The Publishing Merry-go-Round

I had restructured, edited and rewritten my whole book. Spent nights and days thinking about nothing else.

It was time to send it out to traditional publishers.

I researched how to write a pitch or query letter. There are plenty of great ones on line.  I carefully read the submission requirements for each publisher. I tested the waters and sent the first three chapters off to three or four publishers.  Then sent another three or four and so on. So then the waiting began. Most tell you that if they want to read more they’ll get back to you. You may never hear back and, if three months has passed then you know that you will never get a response. That’s just the way it is. It’s nothing personal – it’s just business.

One afternoon I received a phone call from Adam. He rang to let me know that my submission had been received- a nice touch instead of the obligatory email, I thought. He had read my query letter and asked me a few questions about the book. Like a job interview, I answered his questions and well, perhaps earbashed him with my enthusiastic response. He told me that he would refer it to the team for them to read. I hung up the phone in disbelief and excitement. But I think, in truth, I was feeling anxious. Was I truly ready for someone else to read my work? Did I want to hand over my baby to others?

A month later, I received some rejection letters from other big name publishers. Thanks but it’s not what we’re looking for … and so on. It was as I expected.

Then Adam called. “We’re interested,” he said, “but we need to get an evaluation report externally to determine the books saleability. We might need to change the title or structure.” He went on to say that I would need to make an investment to meet the cost of the evaluation feedback. Warning bells rang in my head. Traditional publishers never ask for money. Was Adam a vanity publisher? That is, one who’ll publish your book for a substantial fee. His web page indicated otherwise.

It was my turn to interview him. My years in business enabled me to get some answers. And I wasn’t very satisfied. The whole reason why a traditional publisher is sought after, is for their distribution network. They can get your books into book stores. Yet Adam’s distribution network was very small and mostly in schools. Then, I heard a podcast, warning writers about unscrupulous publishers stinging writers for tens of thousands of dollars. Adam’s company was one of them. I realised that he was not the publisher for me. Which is why it’s so important to research publishers.

It is indeed a hard slog for writers to get a book published by a traditional publisher. It is after all a business for book sellers, distributors, agents and publishers who together must make a living – often taking 90-95% of the takings from a book sale. The author gets the rest.

It was time for me to take stock and consider my options.


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