What Comes Next? / Small Publishers Rock

Late last week, sitting at my desk, fingers on the keys, I found nothing to write. What was going on? Ah, yes, I’d finished my book, in this case two books, and didn’t have the foggiest what might be next. Edit an older book to see if it might sell? Work on that book I’d fiddled around with before getting the contracts for two nonfiction books?

Have you ever found yourself in this position? If you haven’t, believe me you will one day. It’s sort of a lost feeling. All writers have tons of projects in their heads, but deciding which one comes next isn’t always easy. For me, it’s another women’s fiction when I have two that haven’t sold yet. Will I be wasting my time there? Perhaps I ought to take another look at those two. No, that’s not a good idea. We can write them to death. A partial is with an agent with no reply, so let’s forget that one for a while. Still, do I continue in that genre, or work on something else?
I’ve written something different for me. A sort of humorous shape shifter that sat with an editor who liked it till she resigned and now I can’t find the manuscript. No one at the house will reply to my inquiry. Okay, so perhaps that’s the new project. Begin searching for a publisher for this book is a good idea. I have in mind checking out small publishers, so an agent isn’t needed for that.
Okay, that settled, where do I go from here? There’s always Google for small publishers. Or maybe I should narrow down the search. Put in publishers of paranormal novels? Yes, that’s where I might go first. Second step will be to write a fresh query letter, if the publisher calls for one, and check out guidelines thoroughly. Make sure I do everything exactly as they require. Don’t assume they’ll look at more than they ask for. Don’t send something cutesy to introduce myself and my work. Be very businesslike, even if my book is humorous.
Maybe I ought to include a bit of humor just to show them I know what is funny. I’ll have to think about that. I might shoot myself in the foot by trying too hard. Best to let the book stand on its own merits. Most small publishers will look at three chapters and they can be sent through email, which cuts the cost of submitting the manuscript. In most cases, they’ll also take the entire manuscript that way, saving still more.
Yes, I like the idea of checking out small publishers first. There’s a ton of them out there, 93,000 to be almost exact. Of course, they’ll be narrowed down a lot when considering subject matter and breaking down those who take fiction. Many prefer nonfiction. And I can write that, just finished two in fact, and sold them both to small publishers. Because I like working with them and they are buying more today than New York.
Why do I like working with them? Well, example. Last week I sent in my book through email and the next day received a call from my editor letting me know he had it and when he would read it. Then we discussed possible titles, me taking his suggestions very seriously, even if I might not totally agree. He’ll take my input seriously as well, and we’ll come up with a title. He later emailed me that another author in the house had made suggestions for a title. Mmmm, that’s nice, and one of them was a pretty good idea too.
Over the years I’ve worked with editors in New York, and nothing like this ever happened. We did have phone conversations when they wanted large edits or when I called to tell them they’d sent a box of my books to Winslow, AZ instead of Winslow, AR. We all make mistakes, and we had a laugh out of that, so the next box was delivered at the local 7/11 store out on the highway because it hitched a ride in a semi and it couldn’t come out our country road. They were trying to save money.
Only a couple of the adventures of publishing in New York. God love them, I’d take a contract any day and be deliriously happy. There can be problems with any editor or publisher. And I’ll bet they can tell just such stories about authors who don’t do what they’re supposed to, as well.
My point here is, do exactly what is asked of you, no matter the problems that might arise. Be businesslike and professional. Maybe those are the same. And whoever you’re working with, be polite, no matter what. Know what I did after the books went to Arizona? I sent a big box of Arkansas souvenirs to the office in New York. Mugs, computer critters, desk items of all sorts, some with the Razorback Hog on them, others simply read Arkansas. I received another phone call with thanks, and they never forgot I lived in Arkansas again. I think I was the only author they had who did.
Have fun, try to see the humor in everything that happens, commit yourself to becoming the best writer there is, and get out there and network. I’ve sold all my books at writer’s conferences, but that’s for another blog.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in Arkansas, fiction writer, humor, New York, nonfiction, Razorbacks, shape shifter, small publishers, submissions, women's fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to What Comes Next? / Small Publishers Rock

  1. Thanks Velda, for your words of encougement. Mary

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