How To Choose a Publisher(home > book publishing > current article)
If you have taken the time to write a book, then it only makes sense that you should take the time to find the right publisher for your work. Whether you submit to a small press or self-publish your book you need to carefully review potential publishers before making a decision. There are a variety of models of publishing, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Think ahead and make a list of questions and wants you have regarding your book. See which publisher matches the most of your needs, and gives the best answers to your questions.
Here are some of the issues you should consider in your hunt for an publisher.
- Contracts. Read the contract very carefully. If
possible, have an attorney look over the
contract, especially if you have concerns.
Look closely at royalties, advances (if any),
costs and rights. What rights do you retain in your work?
What rights does the publisher take? How many books do you
get for your own use and for use as
review copies? If you need more do you get
an author discount? How often do you get
- Formatting. In what type of format must you
submit your work? Can you check for errors before
the final publication? What if you have changes?
How do you submit cover art, author photos and
other information? What about ISBN numbers?
- POD. Is print-on-demand publishing offered?
Electronic books are great, but is also good to have a printed option. Check to
see if POD is an option even if you are only thinking about ebooks at the moment.
- Editing. Are the books edited or proofread, or are they
it printed "as is"? Are additional fees charged for editing or
proofreading? If editing services are offered, who are the editors?
What experience do they have? You
might want to read some books by other authors
published by the publisher to get a
feel for the quality of the editing. If the publisher has
an open submissions policy and does not
provide editing, you might consider using
the editing service or hiring a freelance editor
to proof your work for you prior to publication. It is a rare
writer indeed that needs no editing at all.
- Business Model. Although Internet companies are new and
exciting, many of them have poor business
models. Many of these companies aren't going to make it.
Be sure to carefully review the company's
business model. It doesn't do you any
good to publish a book through an
epublisher or publishing service if that
company is out of business two months later.
- Promotional Benefits. Does the publisher
promote its authors? Does it contact the
media for you? Does it compensate you
for any promotional expenses? Does it
offer online chats on their website? Does it
have a media contact list or a mailing
list where you can announce your book?
How are review copies handled?
How does the publisher feature its most recent releases?
Many subsidy publishers offer "publish only"
deals; all marketing and promotion is your responsibility.
There is nothing wrong with this approach, but be sure you
know what the company's policies are so that you aren't
- Book Covers. Book cover graphics are
a real draw at bricks-and-mortar bookstores;
the same is true on the Internet.
A killer cover design can help your book
stand out and increase sales. So it is
important that the epublisher provides
attractive covers, or if not, find out if there is a way
you can submit your own cover art. You should
hire an artist or graphics designer, if need be.
- Blurb, Sample Chapter and
Synopsis. Who writes the book synopsis for marketing purposes?
Can the publisher help you find another author to blurb your book?
Does your contract allow you to use part of your
work for marketing? Will the publisher display a sample
chapter in their online bookstore?
- Book Price. How much will your book cost? How much
will readers have to pay for your book?
How does it compare to the price of other
books in major bookstores? Is it too expensive?
If the publisher has existing deals with retailers, will the price of your
book differ there than it does at the epublisher's
bookstore? If you are self-publishing are you able to set the price yourself?
- Delivery Time. How long does it take for your
book to be published after you have signed the contract
and submitted the book? Also, how long does it
take the publisher to deliver purchased books
to consumers? Are delivery times consistent? How long it takes to
print and deliver books is of particular importance with print-on-demand services.
- Retail Partners. Who are the epublisher's
retail partners? Does the publisher have
agreements with Amazon.com, BN.com and/or
What price will readers have to pay for your
book at these retailers? Is there a discount
or co-op available? How long will it take
your book to be delivered to customers?
A slow delivery time is a real turn-off to
readers. How good is their relationship
with these retailers?
- Online Bookstore. How does the publisher promote
its books? Does it have a bookstore on
its website? Is it highly visible or hard to
find? Does it get much traffic?
Does it have a bestseller list?
Does the bookstore have secure online
ordering? Does the publisher take phone orders?
A great online bookstore is essential,
especially if you are sending people to the publisher's website
to buy your book. Some publishers offer
you a higher commission for sales through
their bookstore -- but this doesn't do you
any good if they are not running a highly
visible bookstore with reliable online ordering
and quick delivery.
- Sales. Will you have access to sales information?
How often is it updated? If there is an
online bookstore, can you find out
how many people have accessed your book's page or description?
Can you make changes to your book's listing?
- Troubleshooting. If you have a problem
or a question, is there someone available by
email or phone? Is there a support
area on the website? How big is the staff?
- Independent Resources. Be sure to check
some independent resources for information about the
epublisher you are considering -- do not rely
solely on the information provided by the company
itself or a website or service the epublishing company
owns, as they tend to be biased.
- Networking. What do other writing professionals think about the company? Talk to professionals in the community, including authors, editors and publishers and get their honest opinion to help you make an evaluation. Also get opinions from friends, newsgroups, writer's groups and professional organizations.