August 31, 2021– Check out our podcast on Podbean as we wrap up our theme for this month of What Publishers Want! Check in tomorrow to find out what our theme for September will be!
The final say on what publishers want.
August 25, 2021-Judge Judy is a staple in our home. We watch it five days a week for the pure entertainment factor and for the sassiness of Her Honour. My favourite thing she does is raise her hands to her mouth and shout, “LISTEN CAREFULLY!” because I can totally relate. Each week, I receive a ton of emails from authors asking for advice. As we finish up what publishers want this month, we’ll be spending the rest of the time answering frequently asked questions. Here’s what we’re talking about today:
Q: I’ve submitted a manuscript four times to the same publication, but I have yet to get published. Why?
A: Lean in close because you need to hear this, “THEY DON’T WANT IT.” Why in the world would you submit the same manuscript four times to the same publisher or magazine? The rule of thumb is that if you don’t hear back from the publisher within 3-4 months, you can assume that they’ve passed on your work. Yes, it would be nice if publishers could send you an email telling you that they’re not interested, or even better if they offered advice as to what you can do to improve your work, but the truth is, they’re just too busy! I’m a small publishing house, and I receive 175 submissions per month, minimum, so imagine the big five and how busy they are. Submitting the same thing to the same publisher only does two things:1) it annoys them, and 2) wastes your time. Your time would be better spent improving your writing skills and looking for ways to continue your writing education. There could be several reasons that publishers pass on your work, but in the meantime, stop thinking about the reasons why and get to work improving your writing skills.
I know this sounds a bit harsh, but I want to be completely transparent with you. Some of you may look at the question posed and think, “Wow, that person doesn’t take no for an answer! Good for them!” but that’s not what publishers see. There’s a difference between being determined and persistent versus obnoxious and annoying.
For more advice from a publisher, check out my number 1 best selling book here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca
August 24, 2021– We’ve listed what publishers want, but how about what they don’t want? It’s essential to have clarity, and we can’t have clarity without knowing the opposite. We only know what sadness is when we’ve experienced happiness, and we only know what health is when we’ve experienced sickness; the same goes for publishing; we need to focus on what publishers don’t want just as much as what they want to get the complete picture.
While many things will entice a publisher, let’s focus on query letters specifically and what publishers don’t want.
Do not put this in your query letter:
- Love. We don’t want to hear that your friends and family love your book, that your nieces and nephews loved it, or that your neighbours’ goddaughter’s dog thought it was terrific. Let us be the judge because it’s our job to be objective, and we know what the market demands. Your friends and family love you…we don’t. Publishing is a business, and the bottom line is if your book is saleable or not. We don’t publish books to lose money.
- Rejection. When querying a publisher, don’t put in how many times you’ve been rejected. This doesn’t make us feel sorry for you and is irrelevant. Plus, you might make us second guess ourselves if you’ve been rejected a million times and we want to publish your book after everyone else has passed on it. Rejection is a part of life, and a huge part of publishing, so get used to it and move on.
- Fame. I really hate this one, and I’m not even sure hate is a strong enough word. Despise, detest, loathe? Do NOT put in your query letter that you’re the next NY Times bestseller or insert famous author name here. It makes you sound like an arrogant, out-of-touch, idiot and I guarantee that the publisher will throw your query letter in the virtual trash. You may think that you’re the next James Patterson but never say it. A lion never has to tell us it’s a lion. Get what I mean? We’re the ones who decide whether your manuscript will see the light of day, so don’t anger us right off the bat with a ridiculous query that makes grand claims, ESPECIALLY if you can’t back it up. I’ll get queries like this now and then, and I purposely ask for the manuscript in full to see if the author is reaching. 99.9 percent of the time, they are, and that 0.1% that does make it never puts how amazing they are in their query letter.
We’re wrapping up what publishers want (and don’t want) over the next week, so stay tuned for more tips!
August 23, 2021– Publishers want a lot of things from authors, and those things include a great manuscript, a positive author attitude, and an excellent work ethic. We’re almost done with our theme this month, which publishers want, but we still have more to cover, so let’s get to it!
A subplot is a side story that runs parallel to the main plot. There are three main types of subplots which are romantic, conflict, and expository. The subplot is always connected to the main story but never takes over. The purpose of the subplot is to strengthen the main story, character, and conflict.
Publishers want to see strong subplots (no more than two or three) that are timed and paced well to move the story forward. Here’s what you need to know:
- Growth. Subplots reveal additional, new, or fascinating information about the main character that lends to their growth as a person. The main character should transform from who they were at the beginning of the book to who they are at the end of the book. The subplot also gives depth to secondary characters who would otherwise be one-dimensional.
- Motivation. Subplots give the reader a glimpse into the why behind a character’s actions. It shows why the characters are so determined about reaching their goals, sometimes no matter the cost.
- Struggle. Quite simply, subplots intensify conflict. They can heighten the tension and add new plot points that put obstacles in your character’s way that prevent them from reaching their goals easily. This results in a more dramatic climax which is what publishers are looking for.
When publishers receive manuscripts, we expect to see a compelling story and the story as a whole. How does the character grow? What are the obstacles that stand in their way? Why do they want what they want? Who is going to help them get there? Who is going to prevent them from getting there? If you can answer all of these questions and write a subplot that is intriguing and adds to the story, then you’ve got a good chance of being published!
For more info on what publishers want, check out my number 1 best selling book here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca
August 20, 2021– We’re approaching the end of August quickly, but we still have lots of time to focus on what publishers want! Next month, we’ll be switching topics; first, let’s wrap things up with our current theme.
Publishers come in all types and mediums, but what remains the same is their commitment to the written word. We all want stories that are character-driven and that readers care about! Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, publishers want audiences and authors to be invested. Today we’ll focus on Magazine Publishers and what they are looking for specifically, so let’s go through the list:
- This type of story-They want stories and features that their regular readers will enjoy. The magazine’s regular readership consists of particular target markets, and your work will not be published if the story isn’t a good fit or doesn’t resonate with their audience. Regular readers and subscribers are a magazine’s bread and butter, so publishers do everything with their wants and needs in mind.
- This type of author-One who is familiar with the publication and understands what the magazine is looking for in terms of content is the type of author that magazine publishers want. It goes back to the same old thing, know who to submit to and what they publish. A Haunted Ontario piece won’t sell well in the United States (and won’t be considered), and a Tool-Shed Tips submission won’t fly with a magazine that focuses on high fashion. Know what the publisher is looking for and submit accordingly. Do your homework and buy a few copies of the magazine you want to send your work to so you can familiarize yourself with the story style and narrative.
- This type of word count-They want stories that are the right length that only have to be edited for minor things and don’t need a complete overhaul. Let’s face it, time is money, and the less editing required, the better. Check with the magazine before submitting your article to know exactly what they want when it comes to word count and guidelines. Most pieces (depending on the publication) are between 600-1200 words. Magazine submission guides can most likely be found on their website.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be published in all kinds of magazines dozens of times internationally. My secret? I only submit my work to the magazines that I love to read and that I’ve been reading for years. You can check out my writing credits here: About Pandamonium – Pandamonium Publishing House.
(Main photo- Some of the magazines’ Lacey has been published in)
August 18, 2021- Yesterday, we spoke about the pros of self-publishing; we can call this part two to discuss the cons of the same subject. The more educated authors are about the publishing industry, the options, and expectations, the better chance they have of being published or at least choosing the best fit for their work.
- Initial and ongoing investment. Self-publishing can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000+, and there are ongoing expenses. If you don’t have the funds to invest in an editor, formatted, designer, and publication, it’s going to be a tough road, and you’ll get a less than good product. The point is, most people can spot a poorly done self-published book a mile away based on the cover alone; then they pick it up and can see from the interior that it’s sub-standard. They’ll keep their money and spend it on a book that looks the way that it should, no matter how compelling the story.
- Too many hats. You are the person in charge of everything, as mentioned in the post before this one. You’ll be the one answering emails, interviewing graphic artists/illustrators; you’re the marketing and sales team as well as the social media guru. You’re the shipper, receiver, inventory orderer and fulfiller, and the person responsible for maintaining your website. There are at least fifty jobs that you’re responsible for while self-publishing. You could hire some personnel to help you, but most of the time, there’s not enough money left in the budget, so you end up doing everything yourself. This is not only time-consuming but counterproductive. Don’t be a jack of all trades master of none.
- People. You’ll need contacts for bookstore signings, graphic artists, illustrators, formatters, a printer, and an editor. You’ll need a group of beta readers, people who will give you honest reviews, and the right distributor. You’ll need an accountant, social media specialist, marketing manager and more. The list is long; be prepared to have a ton of doors slammed in your face before ever getting in front of your target audience.
I don’t say any of this to discourage you, but to be truthful that YOU must be the right type of person to take the rejection that comes with self-publishing. It’s not for the faint of heart or the easily rattled.
Here’s how we can help you on your self-publishing journey: http://www.pandamoniumpublishing.com/shop; check out the classes and services that we offer.
August 17, 2021– During August, we’re talking about what publishers want! We want you to be informed and educated about the publishing industry so that you can make the best choice for your work. Today, we’re talking about the Pros of Self-Publishing; all the good stuff makes this publishing option very attractive to the right person. But, more on that later, let’s sink our teeth into today’s subject:
- Creative control. The author is in control of the project from beginning to end; cover design, editing process and changes to the manuscript, the size, page count, layout, formatting, inventory, sales, distribution, price point, and marketing are just some of the things that the author is fully responsible for.
- Higher royalty rate. When authors choose to self-publish, they get to keep more money. There is an initial investment on their part to get the book to market, but after costs, the profit is all theirs! Once they get enough sales under their belt to cover the initial investment, the rest is profit in their pocket. Plus, there are additional ways to make money as a self-published author, such as school visits, speaking fees, and lectures, for example.
- Continuing ed. Authors should be mindful of furthering their careers and take as many continuing education classes as they can afford. Writing is something that needs to be continually improved upon, and the publishing industry is constantly changing. It’s best to keep up with what’s going on in the market and what it demands. As a self-published author, one can decide where they would like to study as most writing continuing education classes are held abroad. I’ve been fortunate to travel globally to hone my craft of publishing and writing, and the benefits have been incredible. Not only have I been able to see and study new places, but I have build friendships that have lasted a lifetime just from attending writing conferences abroad.
With every good thing, there is always an opposite. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on the Cons of Self-Publishing.
August 16, 2021- As we continue our theme this month of what publishers want, we’re touching on the cons of traditional publishing. Last week we spoke about the pros of traditional publishing, so let’s explore the alternative.
- You have no control. The publisher is in total control of your manuscript and your book. They choose the parts they want to cut or extend, hire the cover designer and ensure that the book looks the way it needs to whether you like the cover art or not. Publishers turn the manuscript into something saleable because publishing is a business and your book is a product.
- Expectations are high. The industry is changing and has been for a while. Publishers now rely on authors to pull their weight. Not only do they expect authors to engage with their readers at book signings and events, they ask them to be active on social media and have an author platform in place before the book is published. Authors are also expected to promote their books on various platforms. There are minimum sales targets for reprints, and if the book doesn’t reach that minimum, it will not get another print run.
- No guarantees. Authors might not get a reprint of their current book or another publishing deal, even if published in the past. Things change all the time, and new authors and ideas come into play. There are no guarantees in publishing or life.
The point is to treat each book as if it were your first; put the work in, be active in the promotion and sale of your book, and keep writing!
August 13, 2021- We’re talking about what publishers want during August, and today I thought it might be good to talk about the pros of traditional publishing. Why an author would consider traditional publishing as an option, and on Monday, we’ll chat about the cons. Let’s dive in:
- You get paid for your work. This is every aspiring author’s dream, to be paid for their work! After years of struggling, you’ve finally made it! In traditional publishing, the publisher purchases your work and pays you an advance or royalty. All you have to do is write the book and complete the revisions that the editor expects. Plus, you will receive a royalty on your book for the life of the work.
- Everything is handled. From your marketing plan to publicity, book signings, and bringing your book to market, the publisher takes care of it all. They tell you where to be and when. They take care of you and your book from beginning to end. Publishers also handle the sales, payments, earnings reports, and inventory, as well as editing design, formatting, and creation of your book.
- Opportunity. Publishers have a vast network of contacts, and from those contacts comes opportunity. Your book and your face have the potential to be in front of a ton of people and media personnel. You’ll have opportunities that most people can only dream of!
Authors can be found in documentaries (like ours!): https://drive.google.com/file/d/14HpvaRHvxk1T4J4NbRdvXwRQ3VpkAZOs/view?usp=sharing
in newspapers, on radio segments and podcasts, on blogs worldwide, interviewed on internet segments, YouTube Channels, and red carpets.
There are many pros when it comes to traditional publishing, and publishers want to see that you are informed about how the various types of publishing work. Know what you’re getting into. Happy Weekend, everybody! See you on Monday to talk about the cons of self-publishing.