Before contacting a publisher it’s
a good idea to do some research.
Publishers’ websites are a good
place to start, as you can check
to see if they have a history of
publishing titles similar to your
own as well as research important
information on the length and
style of their current publications.
Many imprints are only interested in:
- previously published authors
- writers they already know
- or manuscripts that come through literary agents
This means you must be highly organised in your approach. Finding out the following may help a great deal:
- Do they take unsolicited works?
- What are their submission guidelines?
- What markets or genres do they deal with?
- Where does your title fit – where would it sit in a bookstore?
Publishers usually want to see an introductory letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters but remember what you present, whether it’s a synopsis or a covering letter, must be the best that you can produce. There’s no harm in contacting the appropriate editor for your genre and asking if they’d like to see your manuscript. A good site for ideas about writing synopses and query letters can be found here; another quite comprehensive site for query letters can be found at Galleycat.
Another option, particularly for those who write genre-based short fiction (sci-fi, horror, crime, western or erotica), are the small independent presses. Publication there can lead to bigger and brighter opportunities and will certainly raise your profile as a writer.
Finding a literary agent who will represent you is a huge advantage but not always easy.
Advances, royalites and payments differ widely across publishers and territories, as do freelance rates for journalism, ghost writing and rates for emerging writers – experience, previous publications and whether you have a name all come into the equation. The ASA has a useful page that covers a wide range of payment ares.
The Australian Writers' Marketplace has a comprehensive contact details and submission information for most publishing houses in Australia. Most English-speaking countries have a Publishers Association. Sometimes you have to purchase directory information:
- Australian Publishers Association
Publishers Association, UK
Association of American Publishers
Publishers Association of New Zealand
Canadian Publishers' Council
Publishers' Association of South Africa
Association of Publishers in India