Choosing the Right Publisher, Part II, The Questions You Should Ask

In the last post I might have pushed the envelope when I compared the author advance to the amount guaranteed in a prenuptial agreement (if you haven’t read it please do. It’s not quite as crazy as it seems). I was trying to make a point. And that was this: selecting a publisher solely on money makes no sense, especially if you have not met or spoken to the people who would be working with you to develop your manuscript and bring it to market. 

As author and editorial director, I am fortunate to know the realities of publishing from both sides of the transaction. So of course money counts. It is naive to say otherwise. But it shouldn’t [mindlessly] trump everything. I like to think there is more to publishing than an ebay auction! Returning to last week’s premise, if you did have multiple offers to publish your book, then I suggest trying the following:    

* Set up meetings with each of the publishers expressing interest in your book

* Respectfully request that these meetings be as broadly attended as possible (meaning that in addition to your prospective editor, ask that publicity and marketing attend as well)

* Get in the habit of asking the right questions: what is the publisher’s vision for the book (you should of course have one also and be prepared to discuss it)? How do they plan to promote it? Will they be printing and sending bound galleys to the press? If so, how many bound galleys do they intend to print? How many copies of the book do they expect to “advance” to bookstores? That’s the number of orders they expect to rack up prior to the first print run (from Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon, etc., etc.).

If, for any reason, you can’t do the above in person, request conference calls with the same cast of characters. It’s not as good as in person, but it’s the next best thing.  

If you do the above you will have a leg up on 95 percent of authors. In the post coming up on Wednesday I will help you to process the information in the aforementioned questions.     


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