There are lots of publishers out there. Of course, you’ve heard of the big ones, but smaller publishers abound. There are good ones and questionable ones. It’s especially easy these days to put yourself out there as a publisher and start accepting submissions. That means it falls on you, the person submitting your work, to make a decision about whether or not a publisher is someone you want to work with. Doing a quick check BEFORE you submit can save you time, trouble, and possible heartache.
The company website is the place to go for a quick rundown. Let’s face it, researching publishers can take a long time. But taking a few minutes to go through a publisher’s website can tell you a lot. Here’s how I do a quick assessment of a publisher along with some questions to ask yourself:
- LOOK AT THE SITE ITSELF –
Is the site put together well, and in a logical and pleasing manner? A good website design quickly shows a publisher takes pride in their work and understands the importance of putting your best face forward.
Is the site well-written? Are there typos and grammatical errors? If so, are you okay with that sort of thing happening in your book?
Is it a free site or is it hosted? A company that serious about what they are doing is going to have a their own .com. Are you okay with a company that does not want to put out the money on what seems to be a simple business necessity these days?
- LOOK AT THEIR BOOKS –
Judge the books by their covers. Are they professional looking? Would you be happy to have a cover that looks like the ones you see?
Are the book descriptions well written and enticing? Would you be happy with the sort of sales writing you see on your books?
What if the publisher hasn’t released any books yet? This means the company is new to editing, printing, marketing, etc. Are you prepared to be a test run?
Do they publish in hardcover, paperback, e-book, print on demand, or a combination. Are the formats you are hoping to have your book published in included?
Lots of times that quick search is all it takes for me to make a no decision. I don’t waste too much time on a publisher if I’m not impressed with what I see. But If I am okay with the previous elements, I dig deeper.
- READ THE ABOUT PAGE –
Who are the people running the company? Who are the editors? What is their experience? Click on links if they offer them. If there is not enough information on the page, do an internet search on their names and see what comes up. Sometimes you find that the books being published by the company are written by the people running the company. That’s when it starts to feel like a self-publishing front. Do you want your book to be associated with this?
Or does the company not even talk about the people who run the company? Why not? Do an internet search on the company and check out their social media. Add “editor” or “publisher” to the search and see if you can find any additional information.
- READ THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES –
From what the guidelines say, does it look like the company understands the genres they are working in? If not, do you want to work with someone who may not know your genre well?
Do they have any mention of the author paying the publisher, whether it is a vanity imprint or a hybrid model? How do you feel about that?
If you’ve looked over all of these elements, are okay with what you see, and feel the publisher might be a good match for your work, it’s a good idea to see what other information you can find about them via online search. Writers do talk about publishers in various forums and on websites. Take a physical look at the publisher’s books as well, if you can.
While you cannot know what a company’s contract will be like, you can do your best to make a decision as to whether or not a company may be one you would be interested in entertaining a contract with. If you don’t like what you see, it is much easier to pass up a publisher when you don’t have an offer in hand. (Those offers can muddle a writer’s decision making!) If you do submit and get an offer be prepared to study up on contracts, ask lots of questions, and negotiate.