Questions about how writers introduce their work to publishers


And it’s more than picture books. There’s chapter books and middle books and YA books and nonfiction and specialty stuff.

I went through a list of agents, and most of them seem to be taking YA books now. And there is a “new adult” category also. I won’t even pretend to know what the differences are.
And I found from a talk by a romance writer that to be a romance the couple must get together in the end.
Thus, Romeo and Juliet does not qualify as a romance by these standards.

Shakespeare is easy. If they die in the end it’s a tragedy; if they marry in the end it’s a comedy.

Just the opposite of Real Life

Thank AHunter3. I’m curious to know if the query systems vary that much between Britain and the US.

I queried a decent share of British agents and publishers, and aside from the discrepancy over attachments that I already mentioned (UK: send sample chapters, proposal, etc as Word or PDF file attachments; US: don’t ever send a file attachment or we won’t open it, put everything in the email body, inline), I don’t recall any difference.

Same with Canadian and Australian. The one other exception is that esp with Canadian and Australian, there was a higher likelihood of them wishing to focus on local homegrown talent hence not open to queries from Americans. Not so much with the UK agents and publishers.

This probably varies by field or genre. In academic publishing, which I’m most familiar with, there are a number of big-name, multinational publishers (Taylor & Francis, for example) but they don’t expect authors to query or submit through agents. On the contrary, a lot of them go out of their way to find prospective authors themselves. At least two of them have gotten in touch with me directly to ask if I have any book ideas I want to pitch. I’m sure they put feelers out to pretty much every academic with some minimum publication record, and their websites also conspicuously solicit book proposals from scholars in general.

As I said above, academic publishing is a separate field from trade publishing, which is what mainstream publishing is called. There’s no reason to expect that two different businesses will have the same rules.

This is completely true, and I had forgotten to consider / think about academic publishing.

Yes, they can be queried directly, more often than not. Some don’t accept queries, they seek out their authors. Either way, yes they are their own different world.

I queried some of them too; my subject matter could have been deemed appropriate despite being a memoir, in the tradition of Rubyfruit Jungle being text for women’s studies etc. Got some requests for a full (send the entire manuscript to be looked at) but no serious bid beyond that unfortunately.

So my wife is in the process of looking for a publisher for her technical book (I actually sent her this thread for the info) and came across this publisher:

Has anyone dealt with them or heard of them before? There is a slight yellow, if not red, flag in their website when they say:

We’re a boutique publishing company that doesn’t work from templates or try to fit our clients’ books into pre-existing formats. Everything we do is custom-made to meet your needs. As a result, the fees we charge to produce a book vary depending on factors like the book’s length, complexity, marketing needs, and timeline. We can send you a service list that outlines our range of services and fees.

That’s not typically the arrangement with a publisher right? An author doesn’t pay to publish? That seems a little bit dubious.

The only time you should ever pay to get something published is if it’a legitimate academic publisher charging set-up fees. And even then I don’t want to do it.

Page Two Books is in the category of hybrid publishing.

Like many other things, this might possibly work. If. If your wife is among a small set of people with specific needs and goals and an actual potential audience, usually in business or self-help or one of the fields in which many books are written and bookstores stock very few. Technical books are also like that. (Diets are also like that. They almost never work long-term except when they do.)

However, besides the pros that the author notes, consider the cons. Paying $20,000 up front. Small chance of getting into a bookstore or being reviewed. Large chance of dealing with frauds (see the comments).

I couldn’t find anything specific about Page Two Books. They do work with a major distributor, which your wife might find an advantage over self-publishing. But I also see nothing there that explains why your wife shouldn’t just try the standard route first. A specialty technical book might not interest agents, but many specialty publishers cater directly to that market. Check the publisher on similar titles.

The advice about publishing is sound, but it used a pretty terrible simile for today’s banking market. With interest rates having been so low for so long—in some places, even going below 0%—it’s getting increasingly hard to find banks that don’t charge for accounts. (When I moved to my current place of residence I found only a single bank that didn’t charge a monthly or annual fee to operate a simple joint debit account, and even then it did levy a small one-time fee to open the account in the first place.)

Why is the Penguin logo included with this article?

They don’t include them in any way, in the article, and they are anything but ‘hybrid’ publishers.

I doubt they’d be happy with that usage of their logo.

Thanks, yeah my initial thought was a hard no when I read that they charge. Similar to someone offering to take your money to find you a job, that’s 100% without fail a scam. But I know practically zero about publishing so couldn’t say for sure.

My wife is in the foodie community and she is just finishing up her first cookbook. The manuscript is in, she’s just finishing up the last of the photography.

In her case, she was approached by the publisher of the cookbook imprint of a Very Large Publisher who had seen her Instagram account and invited her to submit a proposal and a sample chapter. The bought the book based on that.

Some of the other people she knows have gone with self publishing, but it seems like the publishers put a lot into getting the bookstores to take on the listing.

There’s the traditional way: you write a proposal, possibly get an agent to help, pitch publishers, and hope they’re interested. If you get an offer and take it, the publisher pays you advance money up front and edits, publishes, prints, and distributes the book. That can take more than a year, but you’ll get a nice logo on the spine of your book with a picture of a penguin or a wave.

Not the way I would handle it, but it is an inclusion, in a way. Same with the Amazon logo.

No idea about the K.

This reminds me of the collapes of Tate Publishing a few years back. Somewhat surprisingly, the original blog post (that I read closely at the time) is still “live” without having to resort to In the over 300 comments there is a mix of people who realized that they were scammed by Tate and people refusing to accept it. It is a fascinating read:

(And I just remembered that I posted a thread about it at the time.)

Writer Beware is an excellent and venerable site for exposing such scams. It was founded by Victoria Strauss and the late Ann Crispin in 1998 and has deeply gored dozens of scam artists over the years. Invaluable and very time-consuming work, given to the writing community.

It depends on what they promise. If someone really, really wants to get their memoir out there, and doesn’t expect to make money, some of these places are reasonably legitimate. If they wave thousands of sales at you as an incentive they are likely a scam, since the odds of selling that many books is slim - unless you already have a following, that is.