There is so much I don't know about publishing

I recently posted a blog about how my book was finished. I have, since that post, sent it to my crappy draft reader (who liked Chapter 5, the last chapter). I then tweaked Chapter 5 and have since sent Chs. 4 and 5 to The Four Readers. I then melted into a small ball of despair, thinking that it was silly for me to think that this book would ever be published.

Then my friend Barbara, one of The Four Readers, sent me an email today saying she loves Chapter 4. (She’ll be reading Chapter 5 after the departure of a house guest.) I’m afraid she won’t like Chapter 5 as much as Chapter 4, but she gave me energy with her comments. So, based on Barbara’s incredibly encouraging words, I began to do my looking for a publisher work.

I already have generated a list of possible publishers. In a previous post, I wrote about coming up with a list of those publishers who had published non-fiction mystery work that had been nominated for awards. Last night, I ranked these publishers by how often they were mentioned. It turns out that Harper Collins, Random House, and Penguin were the big winners in terms of publishing non-fiction mystery genre books. I went online to find out what their submission requirements were.

I’m guessing you are smarter than me (because it seems that most people are) and already figured something out. None of these major publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts. Nor does Midnight Ink (I’d call this a small publisher), Crown, Hatchette, or Harcourt Mifflin. We need to also include in this list of naysayers MacMillan, Minotaur, and St. Martin’s. By the way, one of the things I’ve learned in this process is that the publishing world is really confusing. Little, Brown is part of Hatchette. Minotaur and St. Martin’s are part of MacMillan (I think, or vice versa).


I don’t give up that easily though. I just started going through my list. I found a couple of places, small publishers like Henery Press and not so small publishers like Kensington, that will accept unsolicited manuscripts. So will McFarland. I’m sure there are others as well, but I haven’t checked them out yet.

So this raised a whole slew of questions for me, and I will definitely be asking my published writer friends for advice. For example:

  • Besides the obvious, are there publishers that are preferred? Like, is there anything wrong with going with a medium-sized publisher or small one?
  • How does one get an agent?
  • Would it make sense to go with a small or medium-sized publisher and then look for an agent?
  • How do I know what a good publisher is?

I am deeply impressed with how little I know about this. I did find what looks like an interesting book by Richard Curtis called How to Be Your Own Literary Agent. I also learned (because on every single publisher site that refused unsolicited manuscripts it was mentioned) that I need to look at The Literary Marketplace, which is all about finding agents.

I also learned from a published friend that I really do need a book proposal (which Shelley and Casey also told me. I get it now.) Yet, some of the places that will take unsolicited manuscripts want a query letter and/or partial manuscript. Though maybe that was just for fiction? I don’t know. Color me confused once again.

I know what I’m going to do next in my publishing journey. I’ve got a lot of reading to do.

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