f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Establishing Your Career as a Writer: Part VII

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Establishing Your Career as a Writer: Part VII

I was asked to elucidate on how better to pitch your proposal to the “supposed” needs of your publisher. So I will.

1. Visit the bookstore and visit the website.

See what’s come out recently and what’s coming out soon. Most publishers are getting info about their upcoming seasons of books out to the public sooner and sooner. Our Fall 06 catalog just published and info. about those books will soon be at our website, Amazon, etc. So you can see new books coming down the pipe. See if certain genres are emerging or declining.

2. Listen to publishers where you can.

Find interviews, try an attend a conference, visit websites. I think it works to our advantage if people have a decent idea of what they should be sending us. (And make sure our words should be matching what you see coming from the company.)

3. Get a Feel for the Publisher

Each has a different “brand.” Some are at the forefront of genres, throwing things against the wall to see if they stick. Others are making do with smaller, unknown authors trying to build a list. Brands may shift. Companies may try and reposition themselves a little.

4. The Next Big Thing

If you think you’re the next John Grisham, do you go to Grisham’s publisher (who’ll likely make you #2, at best) or go to a different house who, theoretically, could be burning to take a swipe at Sir John? But if Grisham’s publisher has the expertise perhaps #2 is okay. Or perhaps you can see a different slot where you can stand next to Grisham. Just realize you might pitch yourself differently to different houses.

5. Devotion to the Line?

Fiction is “hot” right now. More and more publishers are trying their hand at it. Does your novel make sense in that scheme or would it be better at a house with an established reputation for fiction? There’s little you can do if they shut down their line.

6. Be Knowledgeable and Complimentary

If you read and hate every book a company publishes in your genre, likely that’s not the place you should be. I’d hope that you can find some titles that you like that correlate to your book somehow. That’s the bit of the publishing house you’d like to join and be associated with so let them know that.

7. Bribes

I have an off-shore account. We’ll talk.


I don’t think a publisher is going to expect you to know their vision statement for the next five years. Honestly, some of it is going to be pure timing. TL Hines would probably not be at BHP if he submitted his book in 2000. He might not be in CBA with the way the industry has changed.

So, things morph. Things change.

Remember, too, that in the end this is a small thing. It mostly helps seal the deal, not get you in the door. It’s the book that matters. Always the book.


Continue to Part VIII of Establishing Your Career as a Writer