Daily Archives: March 20, 2009

A Small Mea Culpa, and More on Researching.

When we spill our words on an internet page, we risk offending someone, or proving our ignorance on a specific subject. With a blog, we many times know right away if we made a boo-boo.

I knew even as I typed my previous entry, I may not have been entirely correct in my assessment. After all, I don’t have a publisher or agent, and as such have yet to see my book on any bookshelf.

I still have much to learn in this publishing game.

The best part is when someone comes along to learn me a thing or two. Misty kindly showed me the error of my judgment by commenting in my last entry. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. 

It makes me want to turn my blog over to someone who actually knows something. Ha!

So, with that out of the way, let’s hope I can offer something better with this entry.

When researching agents and publishers, I use multiple resources. Picking one and sticking with it will not guarantee the publishers listed are reputable. These lists are so large, the compilers can’t track all of them all of the time, although overall they do an excellent job.

It’s similar to journalists checking out multiple (at least three) sources before they write an article.

I frequent the following websites:

Writersmarket.com. A yearly subscription costs the same as the book at $44.95. If that’s too steep, they offer a monthly subscription at $5.99. Right now they’re offering a 7-day free trial. I prefer the website, because it’s updated more frequently. If an address, phone number, or name of an editor changes, or if a company goes under, the listing is changed. You can also search with multiple criteria such as by state, if they have a website, and if they will accept — for example — science fiction and religious, but not westerns. It sure beats flipping through 1,000+ pages of a book. The website has other features such as bookmarking listings, and keeping track of manuscript submissions and query letters.

Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. Kara suggested in entry "I Found it . . . Not" to search books in my genre and make note of the publishers. Amazon allows searching by publisher, so I can count how many books they’ve published. I check the books’ rankings as well. If they’re consistently low numbers, then the books are selling well. It helps to compare the numbers side-to-side with Barnes and Noble. For researching agents, Kara also suggested reading the acknowledgments, because the author often thanks their agent by name. Both websites have a "Look Inside" feature for many of their books.

Writer Beware Blogs: This blog writes about potential scams and dubious practices of agents and publishers. A definite must-read, because it not only shows what companies to avoid, but gives examples of what to look for when researching publishers and agents.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has a lot of resources available to writers including a Writer Beware page.

Do you know of any websites and other resources for researching publishers and agents?

Will You be My Publisher? Next!

As a writer seeking publication, if I am to gain the positive attention to an agent or editor, the first five pages — at least — must be flawless.

I think the same holds true for agents and publishers. 

Writers shouldn’t merely want to be published, but to choose the best publisher and/or agent best suited for their wordy children. It’s a partnership.

I certainly won’t give my manuscript to just anyone with literary credentials. When I peruse a potential publisher’s website, I study the professional look of the site, if it’s easy to read and navigate, and what books they’ve published.

If the books show sub-standard covers such as the use of clipart (and I could show you some doozies), and poorly described back-cover copy, I hop to the next publisher on my list.

Most important is how well-written the site is, and if there are any grammar or spelling mistakes.

One publisher I looked at contained a spelling error on the first page (I kid you not). In another publisher’s submission page, I found an error a few paragraphs before they described their dedication to thorough editing.

This from people who stress the importance of an error-free submission.

I don’t care if the publisher is a larger house or a smaller one; their website must be flawless. In fact, I think it’s more crucial for a smaller publisher, because writers prefer the larger houses — as do most readers. Like it or not, there’s a stigma attached to smaller publishing houses just as there is with self-published writers. Therefore, smaller houses need to present themselves as above average to get people’s attention. 

These publishers are likely reputable and could be a good fit for my manuscript.

However, if they can’t take special care of their website, how can I be certain they will take special care of me and my novels?

Next!

Tomorrow: What else to look for in a publisher.