1. Traditional Publishing
2. A Small Press
4. Magazine Articles and Short Story Publication
5. Blogging and Blogposts
Today I want to put out a few tips about traditional publishing that I've learned through the last few years. A little about me: I'm represented by Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency, but have not yet received a book contract from a traditional publisher. So you really should listen to me, because I know a TON about how to get rejected. ;)
All of my insights are drawn from the Christian/Inspirational publishing market since that's what I have experience with. Some of the insights probably relate to general publishing as well, and some are specific to the Inspirational market. So keep that in mind.
Note: To get a traditional publishing contract, you must first send queries to agents. Then the agent sends your work to publishing houses.
1) Choose a genre.
New authors often think a well-written story in any genre will find a market. All I have to say to that is: I wish! Some genres sell extremely well. Others flop colossally. In general, there is a ton more inspirational NON-fiction than fiction. The lop-sidedness is only getting more pronounced as Christian publishers cut fiction slots. (My guess is that the rise in Indie fiction has cut into traditional presses' fiction sales.)
The reason I switched from writing fiction to writing non-fiction is because of this skew. In the fiction slice of Christian titles, Texas romance seems to be the most popular. Young Adult is really, really hard to get a book contract in. And marketing a sci-fi to Christian publishers? Well, I don't envy you that.
Now all these are just generalities. Christian publishers have published Young Adult and Sci-Fi titles . . . but not very many. And often they pick established authors to write those books. So if you are a new author, your chances of getting picked up by a Christian traditional publisher are higher if you write non-fiction or maybe Texas Romance.
2) Author Platform
Publishers are obsessed with author platform these days. Basically "author platform" is code for "Will the author make this book sell tons of copy?" I've been able to identify three parts of author platform.
Author Platform: Who You Are
This part of author platform is both the easiest and the most limiting. Are you the president of a foundation to help the homeless? Then publishers are going to welcome your book about how people can help homeless teens. But they're not going to be real interested in your book on congressional politics or Islam.
Author Platform: What You Publish
"What else has this author published?" is the first question a traditional publisher will ask. This is very frustrating to the new author just getting started. How am I supposed to gain experience publishing if no one will ever publish me? The best way around this is to try short articles, short stories, guest blogposts, or other similar things that will get your name out there. Self-publishing is another way authors try to build author platform.
Author Platform: How Loud Can You Scream
This is the part of author platform that takes the longest, but is the most doable. You need to create a blog. You need to create social media. You need to gain a following on both of these. This could take years. One sales/marketing representative from a big publisher told me, "Your writing's good. Maybe in about six years you'll have enough social media/blog followers to make us decide to publish you."
Understand why the impatient among the authors are skipping right towards self-pubbing these days?
Coming next time: The Best and Worst Things About Small Presses