There are basically three options for getting your book published. You can try to get your book proposal accepted by one of the industry giants like Penguin or Random House but that’s a tough road. Those companies only work with proven authors or those who already have huge platforms and salivating audiences. Having said that, if you manage to get accepted, you’ll end up with a huge implied endorsement and a ton of indisputable credibility.
On the other end of the spectrum, you could self-publish your own book. The nice thing about this approach is that the only person who has to approve your book is you! If you want to publish your own book, go right ahead. In fact, given the advancements in technology, you can do exactly that and order as little as one book at a time. The downside is that the credibility is far lower than with a major publisher.
These two options seem to be on opposite ends of the continuum and indeed have plenty of differences between them. Luckily, there’s a third category that sits comfortably in the middle. It’s the category of smaller independent publishers and there are thousands of them. They range from very small mom-and-pop operations to well-established significant publishers. They tend to specialize in one genre or another and often become leaders in their areas of expertise.
Soliciting independent publishers is a great way for a new author to break into the market. Find one that specializes in your particular area and visit their website. They will tell you exactly how they want to be solicited and you’re well advised to follow their guidance. Find out exactly what they’re looking for and then cater your proposal to their specific requirements.
It’s not necessary to have a Literary Agent when soliciting independent publishers. Don’t get me wrong. Having an agent is always a good idea. But you do have some additional options when dealing with the niche players and many will accept proposals directly. Most want you to send it to their Acquisitions Editor but I recommend checking with their website before addressing the envelope.
Getting a book advance is less common when dealing with independent publishers. It’s not impossible but I wouldn’t bank on it. The upside is you’ll have more access to the people reviewing your proposal and that’s half the battle. Don’t pester them. They probably get a few hundred proposals each month. But a polite and well-placed phone call rarely hurts and it gives the editor a chance to hear your speaking voice at the same time.
Becoming an author is something you only do once. Once you’ve published your first book, you will forever be an author. And it can change your life, not to mention your career. Don’t waste your time approaching one of the industry giants when your odds of being accepted are significantly less than 1%. Instead, find an independent publisher that specializes in the subject you’re considering and target your efforts accordingly.
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