More choices for authors means more ways to publish and more publishers. Having a completed, polished manuscript is only part of the work of getting published. The next step is to find a publisher. With so many companies arriving on the scene and going out of business, it can be difficult--maddening even--to find a publisher. So what's an author to do?
The very first thing I suggest to authors is to leverage the power of a favorite search engine. This shouldn't be the only criteria an author uses to choose a publisher. It can, however, provide a good start. The best way to search is to use proper terms. The publisher's full name should be searched with quotation marks around it to ensure that the name as an entire phrase comes up. For example, searching "ABC Books" without the quotes will bring up results with "books" in it, but not the ABC. That probably won't be very helpful. Even if the publisher has a unique name, use the quotes. What you feel is unique may not be when searched against the entirety of the internet.
Next add a modifier. I use a word like problems or issues. The way this looks in a search engine is like this:
"Publisher full name" + problems
Then, look at the results that come up. Newer dates are bigger issues, as are venues. Let's take a moment for some honesty. No publisher will make every author happy. This means that there is a good chance that some result will come up. A story in Publisher's Weekly or other high visibility blog will raise more alarm bells than a single result from one author.
It is the author's job to determine which issues, if any, aren't deal breakers. Personally and for many authors, any issues make the publisher a non-starter. There are too many good publishers out there to get caught with the bad ones.
Beyond a search engine, the next step in smart publisher research is doing some good old-fashioned leg work. Visit the publisher's website. Look at their covers. See if they lean heavily to a specific genre or subset of books. An author should make sure that his or her books will fit in well with the publisher's literary culture (or lack thereof). A sweet romance author in a sea of erotic books where it's obvious the website and publisher caters toward the steamier books wouldn't be a good fit, for example.
Yet, there's one more tool for smart publisher research: reading the books. Yes, this takes time. Yes, this may be an investment. However, the prettiest cover and best laid out website could conceal books with poor editing. If an author absolutely cannot find time to read books, then check reviews. Many good review sites will mention issues with editing or storyline problems.
There's more to publisher research than these three steps; however, by starting with these processes, the author will have a good feeling which publishers will do right by them and whose books the author will feel proud about being among. Taking some time in publisher research will prevent trouble and heartbreak down the road. And, there's a good chance it will lead to better sales.
If you're interested in learning more, join Mary starting August 20, 2014 for Smart Publisher Evaluation for Career-Minded Authors. This week-long course will dive deep into the art of evaluating publishers so authors can avoid trouble, find the best fit for them, and know that they, and their work, will be supported. Learn more and register here: http://musecharmer.com/musestore/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=75&products_id=212
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Visit her website at www.musecharmer.com to get her free video presentation Tap Into Your Muse Power to learn exactly how an author's muse is the most important tool for today's working author.
Mary lives in the Ozarks with her husband, three spoiled horses, an office rabbit, an opinionated parrot, a not-so-itty-bitty kitty committee, and a charmed chicken (rooster). She's been published since 2002, working for some of the biggest and best digital-first publishers. Three years ago, she began The Muse Charmer to share her insights from being in the publishing industry for so long with authors. Her belief: it can be easy to be an author today. To that end, she offers classes, news, and information authors can use to navigate today's ever-changing publishing industry.
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