A few years back, we used to publish a new Jennifer Fallon post each Friday. Back by popular demand, to celebrate our author of the month, here’s the best of Fallon Friday!
I want to get published – where are the markets?
Mainstream publishers are publishers who commission work from authors and pay them an advance and/or royalties for published worked sold. They range from the large commercial enterprises, such as HarperCollins to smaller, specialty publishers, such as the Qld University Press.
Publishers have various different banners under which they publish different genres. For example, HarperCollins publishes fiction under their own banner, but publishes Fantasy and Science Fiction under the Voyager imprint and Romance under the Avon Imprint.
It’s vital to know which publisher does what. It is absolutely no use sending your blood and guts horror epic to Mills and Boon, any more than you should send your heart-rending romance to Voyager. They will simply send it back unread and all you get for your efforts is another rejection slip to add to the pile.
Rule 1 – Pick your publisher!!!!
Do your homework.
Check if the publisher to whom you’re sending your MS, is actually publishing the genre you’re writing for.
Check if they accept unsolicited manuscripts (some publishers no longer do).
Find out the name of the editor responsible for the genre you work in, ie the children’s editor, or the romance editor. All you need do is phone the publisher and ask the switch operator.
Some publishing houses only want to see sample chapters and an outline, so you need to find that out before you send the whole MS.
Some publishers will only accept work from agents. Some will only accept unsolicited work assessed by a recognised Manuscript Assessment Service. All of them have their submission requirements on their websites. Check them out before you start ringing editors. A phone call asking for information already provided on a website is liable to promt the reaction: How can this person write, when it’s clear they obviously can’t read!
Rule 2 – Read the guidlines on their website and adhere to them or you will immediately be dismissed as a dimwit who can’t follow simple instructions
Bear in mind that publishers rarely offer a contract to a first time author based on a query letter. They have no proof you can produce the final goods.
Many publishing books say to send a letter first, outlining your idea, but in my experience, editors shy away from unknown authors with bright ideas.
Send the query letter, by all means (along with the first 2 or 3 chapters) but get your MS finished first. And be very careful saying ‘nothing like this has been published before’ because that might be a warning signal that perhaps a demand for your book does not exist.
In the non-fiction area it’s essential that you know what your book does that competing books in the area do not, and what it does better than the existing books. Be aware that in this highly competitive industry there will be competing books and that your publisher will be aware of them.
Jennifer Fallon lives in Oxford, near Christchurch in NZ. Her first trilogy, ‘The Demon Child’, was an instant success and the related books of The Hythrun Chronicles built her fan base. Jenny has been published in the US, UK, Canada, Russia and Germany. Her latest book is The Undivided.