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How to Run Your Publishing Company

July 28, 2011

After browsing dozens of small publisher websites, here’s what you need to do to make your company’s website more attractive to potential authors:

  1. Email!  Look, it’s 2011.  If you don’t take email submissions by now then why do you even have a website?  Email is FREE and it’s easy to get, so you don’t have any excuses except that you’re a Luddite.
  2. It’s not a treasure hunt:  Don’t make me look for your submissions guidelines; have them easily visible on a main menu.  I don’t want to have to look around, click the About page and scroll through your jibber-jabber to find them.
  3. Simplify, man!  You’re not writing a debt ceiling proposal or a Supreme Court decision; keep your guidelines short and to the point without a lot of legalese.
  4. It’s not a test:  Going hand-in-hand with #3, keep your submissions process short.  Just ask for a combination of query, synopsis, sample chapters.  Don’t ask people to fill out ten-page questionnaires or take personality tests.  (Honestly, one of them said, “Answer these 16 questions with your submission.”  Dude, I finished school a while ago, so I’m not taking any fucking tests.)
  5. Stop sweating the small stuff!  Going along with #4, don’t scream at me that you won’t read anything if I don’t use the right font or margins or any of that.  If I’m Emailing then it’s easy enough to fix if you’re really that concerned.  To use another cliche, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
  6. Get over yourself!  Don’t tell me that you’re going to take 5-6 months to look at it and then demand exclusivity.  Only an idiot is actually going to do that.  Like I said the other day, that’s fine if you’re Random House, but you’re not, so deal with it.
  7. Marketing 101:  Look, I know it’s part of the new reality and everything that I’m supposed to pimp the book, but demanding I come up with the marketing plan sucks.  As someone on Absolute Write said, if you demand I have the plan then you sound clueless.  More to the point, it sounds like you’re a book PRINTER and not a book PUBLISHER.  You’re supposed to be the one with the contacts and experience.  If you don’t and you expect me to do all the legwork, then why not just have me pay for a package like Lulu or CreateSpace and just become a vanity publisher?

This goes on top of following simple web design basics, like making the page easy on the eyes and following fair business practices about royalties and all that.  Do all that and it would make me a lot less grumpy when I’m trolling for a publisher.

I’ll have to apply these rules when I start Thumb Up My Ass Productions.

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4 Comments
  1. I can understand the exclusivity clause with some publishers. For example, Double Dragon ebooks wants exclusivity while considering your manuscript. This didn’t bother me because on my sci-fi novel, I sent it to like sixty or seventy agents and got nothing but a couple of partials and one full request and all rejections. When I researched Double Dragon, I found out they have like three employees and they read all of their submissions from page one to the end. This kind of shocked me but that’s their policy. So I know that even though it’ll be six months before I hear back from them and it’s for their 2013 catalog, that when they do get back to me, someone will have read the whole thing from beginning to end to make a decision.

    So yeah…they demand exclusivity because they are slow. Like tortoise and the hare slow. But again…I didn’t care because it’s not like Random House was beating down my door. Plus I can busy myself with other projects like shopping around a second novel I’m polishing up and maybe penning a third while getting ready for the fall season of television that will bring more “The Walking Dead”.

    • I would say that’s not much of an excuse. I guess if you have your heart set on a particular publisher then fine. Otherwise it’s a lot more like a Black Friday sale where you can’t stand at the back of the line waiting patiently if you expect to get anything. Some publishers only take submissions at certain times, so don’t expect me to sit around twiddling my thumbs (or cramming them up my ass) while you sit around in your mom’s basement reading your slush pile.

      If you decide after six months you want my book and I’ve already sold it, that’s your fault, not mine. You snooze, you lose. That’s how the real world works.

      • Maybe I feel this way because I believe that my manuscript is very niche and probably doesn’t have a chance anywhere else. Meh. Best of luck to you though in finding a publisher. If I see any that don’t look too pretentious I’ll be sure to let you know.

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