5 Tips on How to Pick a Publisher

Choosing a publisher should be a bit more systematic than roulette.
Photo by Naim Benjelloun on Pexels.com

When the time comes to send out your writing, it can be tough to pick a publisher. But there are a few things that can help you make the choice.

Publish What You Write

First things first, do they publish what you write. Wait! Don’t leave. If you’ve got some experience this might seem obvious. But way too many editors and agents complain about this for it to go unsaid. If you write picture books, make sure the publisher publishes . . . picture books.

There. Now I can get into meatier issues like the . . .

Look of the Books

This isn’t advice that I see very often but take a look at the publisher’s books. Do you like the book design? The illustrators? The book jackets? How the books smell? Yeah, that ones a little strange but once you open a book that makes you gag, you get it.

If you don’t like the physical books, don’t submit to this publisher. I know that this sounds super picky, but there are publishers, especially picture book publishers, that consistently put out books that I hate the look of. And I really don’t want to hate the look of MY book.

And don’t think this doesn’t matter for e-books. If that’s the route you are going to go, make sure you like their design whether that means graphics, font and links or keeping it clean and simple.

# of Books Published

Another thing to consider is how many new books the publisher has each year. If you like two publishers equally and one puts out 40 books a year and the other only puts out four books a year, the publisher who puts out more books may edge out the other.

This past year isn’t going to be a great example but take a look at their catalog online. If they don’t produce a catalog, look at new books. You should also check . . .

# of New Authors

A publisher may publish 40 new books a year but who writes the books? Publishers like working with the same authors again and again and that’s great – if you are one of those authors.

If a publisher never seems to publish anyone new, they probably aren’t the best bet. This doesn’t mean that they should come off your list but other publishers might come first. And don’t forget about

The Backlist

The backlist is the catalog of books that aren’t new. A backlist is where the publisher makes money and, if you get a royalty, so do you. Some publishers don’t give a book much of a chance. If it doesn’t sell well in two years, that’s it. Bye! But other publishers keep books in print for much longer. My first book, Ancient Maya, came out in 2015. It is still in print.

I’ve been lucky. Most of my books are still in print. I don’t make a royalty (I’ll post about payment options tomorrow) but this means that my book is still avalaible to librarians and young readers.

What other considerations would you include on this list? This is one of the topics I will be discussing in my new WOW! Women on Writing class, Learn to Pitch, Query and Submit Your Work.


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