Finding Publishers / Editors, By Maria V. Snyder

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You have a story that's finished, it’s been critiqued and revised and is as typo-free as possible. It is ready to go! Congrats! Now what? You need to decide if you want to publish your book traditionally published(i.e. through a publisher) or if you want to self publish it on your own (a.k.a. Independent (Indie) publishing). This article is focused on finding a publisher for your novel. In today's publishing climate, the best way to be traditionally published is to find a literary agent. You can read my article on how to find one HERE. If you rather try to find a publisher on your own, then keep reading. :)

First step is to find out which publishers and editors are still open to accepting stories from an unagented writer (i.e. a writer without a literary agent representing him/her). Editors work for the publisher and there are many of them from junior editor up to senior editors. Not all editors in that publishing "house" will accept unagented submissions (it will depend on the imprint/line - for example Mira Books is an imprint of Harlequin, the publisher) so you need to know which editors do and which don't. There's information about publishers on Agent Query Publishing Resources. You can also also get a list of publishers/editors and what types of books they publish at this site: Writer's Market, however you have to pay for their services. There are a few other subscription sites like Duotrope that have good information. You can also check the publishers' websites - many of them have information on how to submit to them. And please make sure that your novel "fits" with the type of books (genres) the publisher handles. Don't send your horror story to a romance publisher - they get really cranky when you do that!

After you make a list of publishers/editors you want to submit your novel to, then the second step is to send the publishers EXACTLY what they ask for in their submission guidelines. If they want you to email three chapters and a synopsis, then that's what you send them! To send them the proper materials, you'll need to know the lingo (i.e. know the difference between a cover letter and a query letter). And you'll need to write a synopsis as well (best to have a "1 page" and a "6 page" synopsis of your novel). For more information on submissions, go HERE. Also attending writers' conferences is a great way to meet editors in person and some even have appointments so you can pitch your book to an editor.

Third step - wait. Editors are inundated with submissions and it can take them months to read your submission. The submission guidelines will state how long before you can expect a response. Also the guidelines will state if the publisher accepts simultaneous submissions (when you send the same story/novel to multiple publishers at the same time), and they'll list if they accept multiple submissions (when you send a bunch of different stories/novels to the same publisher/editor).

For all correspondence with editors, be professional, be polite, and be prepared. If you do get a rejection, don't send a nasty email back. I used to send thank you cards to the editors that took the time to personally reply to me even if it was a quick note about why the story didn't work (many of them remembered me because of this!). Editors talk to each other quite a bit and you don't want to get a reputation for being unprofessional. Your current novel might not fit an editor's needs at the time, but a future novel might be just what he/she is looking for. If they remember you as being professional, they'll be more open to reading your next submission.

REMEMBER - for traditional publishing if anyone is ASKING you for money for your writing - that's a BAD sign. Reputable publishers pay you to publish your stories. For a list of the sharks, check out the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Association's (SFWA) Author's Beware site here: and also check the Predators and Editors site for publishers and agents to avoid:

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