It’s become commonplace to peruse Twitter and other social media only to see authors saying they’re getting dozens of rejections. Getting rejections is common. It’s a right of passage for most of us. I’ve gotten my fair share and even had a few where I turned them down because they wanted to completely alter the story. It’s normal.
The issue is the dozens of rejections.
Where many authors fail is that they sent their queries to anyone and everyone. It might sound like a recipe for success, the more eyes on your story the greater the chance one of them will want to publish it, but all you’re really doing is hurting your chances and the chances of others. Overwhelmed publishers and agents will spend less time on a pitch/manuscript than those who only have a couple to review. You have less of a chance to impress them if they’re reading through hundreds of pitches.
To increase your chances of finding a publisher, do research. Visit publisher lists such as publishersglobal.com and search through their lists of publishers. Don’t submit to just any of them. Don’t submit just because you know their name. Submit to publishers that publish the type of book you wrote.
It seems like common sense, but so often people just submit to anyone in the hopes that they’ll get a bite. All that does is annoy people and they WILL remember your name. If you go back to them with a later book that fits their profile, they may avoid your story because of your previous pitch. We don’t want that, so it pays to do your due diligence.
When you’re researching, be on the lookout for instances of people saying that they were told by the publisher that they wouldn’t publish them because they didn’t have a big enough following. This is a massive red flag. If a publisher or agent tells you they can’t get your book published for this reason, then they aren’t worth publishing with. A good agent/publisher can market your book to people outside of your follower list. Runaway fast from these publishers.
Look for publishers with a solid backlog of books. If they’ve been around for a while, they should have published something. If they have nothing listed on their website, and they aren’t a new publisher, it’s likely they are either extremely picky, extremely slow, or a dead company. Avoid them.
If you’re solicited by a publisher to submit, and they aren’t a new publisher just starting out, this could be a problem. If you don’t have a backlog of books raking in the dough, it’s probable that this publisher isn’t any good at their job, or they’re trying to pick off inexperienced authors in order to make a buck. The contract you get might not be any good, but unless you know contracts or hire a lawyer you may not know that. It’s best to steer clear of publishers that approach you.
If a publisher asks you to pay money or doesn’t give you time to review the contract (they should at least give you a week), then they’re probably trying to take advantage of you. Runaway.
When you review their website and they have a small staff but hundreds of books, they aren’t likely taking the time to market all those books. It’s unlikely that they’ll spend a good time trying to get your book sold unless it takes off right at the beginning. These publishers are hunting for the next big hit and they’ll go through hundreds of books to get to it. They only care about profit.
This is only a handful of potential pitfalls among the many out there. It also doesn’t scratch the surface of potential issues in the contract you might get offered. I always advise that you have a published author you trust, or a lawyer, review a contract before you sign it. Don’t become prey for the businesses out there just trying to make a buck. Be careful and if you ever want to chat about publishing, or writing in general, you can find me on twitter. Trust me: I don’t bite!
Bradley R. Mitzelfelt is a published author and Chief Editing Officer of Hawks Barrow Press. He has self-published three books (The Dark Mage Chronicles), the first of which was originally traditionally published. In addition, he was a contributor to “Little Girl Lost” from Mannison Press. By day he is an architect, by night a writer, father, and husband. Follow Bradley on Twitter @bradrmitzelfelt and visit his website at hawksbarrow.com.