By Kat Lewis
What does it take to land a major publishing deal?
Recently, Nicky Perfect, a former client of ours, signed a deal with Harper Collins, and launched her book, Crisis. It’s since become a #1 Amazon bestseller and has acquired numerous positive reviews.
So, how can aspiring authors achieve this same feat? It all boils down to one thing: nailing the submission process and making sure your book stands out for all the right reasons.
In this blog, we’ll explore how to submit to publishers and get them chomping at the bit to sign you up. Let’s dig in.
1. Research and choose the right publishers
It can be tempting to take a shotgun approach to the submission process. Many aspiring authors believe that the more publishers they submit to, the higher their chances of getting published.
However, in order to create a knock-out submission, you need a clear understanding of who you’re targeting and what they can expect from your book.
The first thing to do is to take a look at online directories and resources. Are there any publishing houses that pique your interest? What genres and categories do they focus on?
It might also be worth getting involved in an author community, where you’ll receive tips and advice on how to get your business book out into the world. You may even get the chance to speak to literary agents one-on-one and get a better idea of what they’re looking for in a book.
Once you have a better understanding of the industry and some names floating around in your head, it’s time to narrow down the list to ensure you’re targeting only the right-fit publishers. This step can be condensed into three basic questions:
- Why does this publishing house intrigue you?
- Do they have any similar works in your genre?
- Are they currently accepting submissions?
Bear in mind that author submissions (especially with big-name publishers) can be highly competitive, which is why our next tip is so critical.
2. Create a knock-out submission document
Every publisher wants to produce books that sell many copies. Needless to say, if you want publishers to glance your way, you need to present a strong business case for your book in a clear, simple, and impactful way. Think of it as a sales pitch where the goal is to convince the publishing house that your book will make them a great deal of money.
So, how do you write a submission letter to a publisher?
The first thing you want to do is show why your book is relevant, not just to the publisher but to your target audience. What gap does it fill in the market? Why would readers buy your book vs. someone else’s in your category?
It’s also worth highlighting to publishers that you have a strong platform and network who are likely to buy your book when launch day rolls around. Most publishers aren’t responsible for the day-to-day marketing required to drive continuous sales, which is why they tend to look for authors with a pre-existing network and platform.
The larger your platform is, the more confident the publisher will feel about your business case.
P.S.: If you’d like an in-depth tutorial on how to write a submission letter to publishers that gets you noticed, check out our free guide here.
3. Make sure you stick to the submission guidelines
Even the most eloquent submission document could still end up in the bin if it fails to meet the guidelines. Traditional publishers tend to receive thousands of submissions annually, which means they don’t have any time to spare on ill-fitting applications or authors.
It’s important to carefully review your chosen publisher’s requirements and use these as a guideline for drafting your submission document. In many cases, this information will be readily available on their website.
You also want to thoroughly check your document for any errors, spelling mistakes, and incorrect formatting. A well-written document will probably move your name to the top of the pile, but avoidable errors will make your manuscript stand out for all the wrong reasons.
What to expect after submission
We often get one question from aspiring authors: “How long do publishers take to respond?”
The truth is that it can take anywhere from several weeks to a few months to receive a response, depending on the publisher and their backlog of queries. If you’re well-established as an expert with strong industry connections, you may have a better chance of receiving a speedy response.
But bear in mind that this isn’t a guarantee, and it may take a long while to go from query to book deal and, finally, bookshelves.
As you await the verdict, here are a few productive activities to turn your focus towards:
Boost your online presence
One of the first things publishers look for when considering any submission is the author’s background and platform. This means that they’ll probably be looking at your online presence to get information about your personal brand, line of work, and so on.
Throughout the submission process, it’s worth dedicating some time to boosting your online credibility. You can do this by collaborating with other experts in your industry, putting out thought leadership content, and maximising your SEO efforts to increase reach and visibility.
P.S.: Check out our blog, How Blending SEO And PR Can Boost Your Brand And Content Visibility.
Polish your manuscript
If you haven’t already done so, now’s a good time to keep working on your manuscript and identify any loose ends you’d like to tie up. You can also do further research on other competing titles within your niche to better understand the marketplace you’re looking to occupy.
Constructively follow up after sufficient time has passed
After four to six weeks, it’s reasonable to follow up for a pulse-check on how soon you can expect a response. For best results, your follow-up should include an update of interest, e.g. if you’ve just won an award or received a foreword from a notable industry expert.
This makes you look more proactive and can be a fantastic way to reiterate to publishers that your book would be a worthy addition to their collection.
Have any of these tips been helpful?
If you’d like further support along your book production and publishing journey, book a Clarity Call today to find out how our team of experts can help.