The Publisher This is where the agent will go if they think that your book is saleable and they could easily perceive it in the bookstore with people willing to spend their money on it; it’s important to put it in these terms because it basically boils down to money at the end of the day. It wouldn’t matter if your novel is what D. H. Lawrence once called “the one bright book of life”, simply because if the customer doesn’t have the money for it then they won’t buy it.
This is where the publisher knows their business. A publisher will concern themselves with politics, recession, and public spending. They will already have in mind how many books they are going to publish each year and in what genre, all dependent upon projected sales and previous figures. They will need to know how the public are spending their money, and before they decide to put your book in the bookstore they need to know it will fit.
Approaching a Publisher
If you are going to approach a publisher about being taken on you better be pretty sure you have a good business plan these days. This is often why it’s best to get a literary agent to sell your book for you, firstly because they have a working knowledge of how to approach a publishing house, and secondly, if they are good agents, they’ll more than likely also have established business relationships with many of the top publishing houses.
But if you are insistent on going it alone, then first you need to write what is called a query letter. It is much better to write a query than send an entire novel or even parts of it.
Writing a Query
When you write a query you need to be brief and to the point. Your letter (or email, dependent on what the publisher accepts or prefers) will need to detail certain things about your book in order for the publisher to make an informed decision about whether or not they want to see it. Remember how competitive it is these days and also consider that they are likely to be full up with queries from already established literary agents with lots of experience.
- You must tell them the title of your book.
- Give them a brief synopsis of your book.
- Give them an idea of who you think your audience will be.
- Briefly describe any ideas you have for future work and any books and/or relevant publications you already have or are working on.
Remember to only include relevant information in those points above, telling a publisher that you wrote a story about your summer holiday when you were on vacation 15 years ago is not going to help. And also remember that this query is only in order to ascertain whether or not they will see your work or not; do not send your manuscript, particularly if the publisher has stipulated no unsolicited material.
Good Luck with your book!