Monday, May 21, 2012

Finding A Home For Your Manuscript


I've completed a few manuscripts that are finally ready for submission.  In a previous post, I shared with you my process for taking my story from draft to manuscript.  Today, I will share with you my process for selecting the right publishing house for a manuscript.  

The worst thing you can do for yourself is to blindly submit to publishers.  You can't just submit your manuscript to every publisher listed.  That wastes the publishers time and your money.  So here are the steps to finding a Children's Book Publisher:
Study the Writer's Market Guide
The best guide for children's books is the Children's Writers & Illustrators Market.  Make a list of the publishers who publishes your genre (i.e. picture book, mid-grade, or nonfiction).  On your list be sure to jot down the name of the publisher, the submissions editor or Senior Editor's name, and website.
Visit the publisher's website
I do this to get updated information.  The Writer's Market Guide is published a year or so after compilation so there may be changes to the information provided in the book.  Check to see whether or not the publisher is accepting manuscripts.  If not, cross them off your list. 
I also like to read their "About Us" page.  It gives you a glimpse as to the kinds of books they are publishing. 
Request a book catalog from the publisher or visit Amazon.com
Study the types of books the publishing house is publishing.  Be sure that your manuscript is a good match for their line of books.  Things to look out for:  Do they publish talking animal stories?  Do they publish stories with strong messages?  Do they publish books in rhyme?  Do they publish humor, fantasy, or real-life stories?  Do they publish books similar to yours with regards to theme, style, voice, word count?  If your manuscript is not a fit, cross out the publisher from your list.
If you are using Amazon.com for your research, do an "advance search." 

Books Search
Top of Form
Keywords
Author
Title
ISBN(s)
Publisher
Subject                                                                                                                    
Condition            
 
Format                                                                                                                                                        
Reader Age                                                                           
Language                                                                                                                                                          
Pub. Date
Month
Year
                                              
    
Sort Results by:                                                                                                                                                              

If I wanted to place my picture book manuscript with Chronicle Books, this is how my search would like (leave the rest blank):
Publisher:  Chronicle kids books.  
Subject:  Children's books
Reader Age: 4-8 years
Language: English
Sort Results by:  Publication date (Sorting your search by publishing date helps you to see what the publisher is publishing currently.  Their needs change so what they published 5 years ago may not be what they are publishing today.) 
Follow the submission guidelines
Now that you have downsized your list, it's time to go back to the website and follow the publisher's submission guidelines.  Sometimes it is difficult to find it.  It will sometimes be under the "contact" information.  If not, you can do a Google search of the publisher's submission guidelines or editorial guidelines.
Things to look out for when submitting:   Are they accepting snail mail or e-mail?  Do they require a SASE or not?  Do they want a full manuscript submitted or just a query.  Follow the guidelines exactly or they will reject you without even reading your manuscript.
Find out who the submission editor is 
You probably have the editor's name listed on your list as I suggested in step one.  But be sure it is the right one.  Again, the Book Market Guide may have the wrong information, and in this business, editors come and go. 
Do a Google search on the editor to find out exactly what they are looking for.  I usually put quotations around the editor's name with the word "interview" next to it.  Google will give you results of all the interviews of that editor.  By reading the interviews you will be able to see if your manuscript is still what they are looking for.  Also, you can use the interview to your advantage and make mention of it in your cover letter.  For example:
"In your interview with (source of interview), you've indicated that you were looking for fun, quirky picture books.  I hope you find (title) a fit for (publishing house)..."
This shows that you did your homework and are not submitting blindly to just any publisher.  You should also mention what you love about the publisher.  Mention some books by the publisher that you admire.  This personalizes your letter to the publisher. 
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This seems like a lot of effort to go through in finding the right publisher.  But in the end, it'll all pay off.  If the editor sees that you've done your homework, the better your chances at being published.
I hope this helps you.  I'd like to hear about your process in submitting.  Please share it with me in the comment section.  Is there something I need to add to my list?  Any other tips you'd like to share with me?  I'm all ears!  I am still learning as much as you are.    
Best wishes to all your endeavors!

5 comments:

  1. These are some great tips! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. From reading so many picture books, I do have a list of favorite publishers. Most of them accept unsolicited mss. Some only see agented work. My favorite market guide is Book Markets for Children's Writers. It is smaller than the one you mentioned and has subheadings in the index to search by topic (biographies, history, humor, animals, etc.)

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    1. Ah, yes. Another great resource. Thanks for mentioning BOOK MARKETS FOR CHILDREN'S WRITERS. I did forget to mention that one.

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