Monday, April 22, 2013
Picture Book Workshop #12: Finding a Publisher
By now, you should be in the revising, polishing stages of your manuscript. I don't mean to say you're almost done at this point. This can be a long and winding road. Be patient. Do your best. Seriously. Do your absolute best. (You don't want a big stinko with your name on it in the remainders pile three months after your book is published.)
Even if your manuscript isn't ready yet, I think it's OK to go ahead and make a list of dream publishers.
You may start by going to the bookstore and finding some books that are similar to yours. Did you write a picture book about a frog who loves to surf? Well, that new book about a rabbit who ice skates is kind of similar. Who published it? Write it down. (Note: It's always a good idea to take a look at what's current in your bookstore anyway. When some big-wig asks "Have you seen the new book Captain Blah-Blah?" You can say, "Yes!" Or if a potential agent asks you who your favorite authors are, you can name someone current and not just Maurice Sendack.)
I would also HIGHLY recommend picking up the most current edition of Children's Writers & Illustrator's Market. This book lists all the publishers, what they publish, and what they're submission requirements are. It should be noted that not all publishers allow unsolicited submissions. Or some do, but only in November. Each and every publisher has it's own set of rules and you must follow them to the letter to prove that you can. So, once you've made your list of places you want to send your manuscript, you must then go onto that publisher's webpage and find the submission information there as well to make sure you have the most up-to-date information. You're making a list and checking it twice!
It seems like a lot of work, but it saves you time in the long run and it saves them time in the slush pile.
Do you know about the slush pile? The slush pile is where everything goes that the publisher/agent did not ask for. Usually there are interns who read them. And usually it's filled with garbage because lots of crazy people write books. I'm not talking about YOU. You are here trying to learn how to hone a craft. I'm talking about straight-up crazy people, or, people who did not do their research and sent a fantasy manuscript to a non-fiction company.* That happens too. Check out SlushPile Hell if you want a tip on what NOT to do.
Here's another link to check out:
SCBWI has 10 FAQ's about publishing
*I've come back to this post because it occurs to me that I have not stressed enough the importance of looking at what the publisher actually publishes. Do not send non-fiction to a house that asks for humorous fiction just because your non-fiction is humorous. This is not a tag sale. There is no haggling. Your work must meet what they are looking for totally and completely because there are so many manuscripts out there that will.
Know what your story is. Know it's genre. Find a good fit.
It's time consuming. It's research. But you can do it!