The One Thing That Matters When Looking For A Publisher

If you ask most writers which publisher they’d like a contract with, they’ll probably tell you one of the big five.

They’ll do the best job, right?

Yes… and no.

A few weeks ago, I attended the KidLitVic conference where a panel with Jane Pearson (Text Publishing), Suzanne O’Sullivan (Hachette Australia and Lothian Children’s Books), and Miriam Rosenbloom (Scribble) talked about publishers—from the big to the small.

This included the revelation that big publishers aren’t always the best option for you and your manuscript.

No, this wasn’t some ploy to get writers to try submitting elsewhere. It was sound advice that the ideal place for your book is with the publishing house that wants to make it the best it can be.

Other surprising insider tips were that a big publisher doesn’t necessarily have a big budget for a book and that awards don’t always lead to sales (it also costs publishers a lot of money to submit books to awards).

To make working with a publisher easier, they suggested aiming to sign with one in the country where you live. I personally tried that for three years before my YA series, Blackbirch, was snapped up by a small press in the US, so I took that advice with a grain of salt.

Also turned into the saltiest of grains was a tip about only setting your book where you live because you can’t authentically write about places you haven’t been to and will, therefore, get it wrong (I’m sure there are other authors who will agree to disagree on that one too).

As for the submission process, it involves a lot more people than you probably think.

After the person you’ve sent your MS to has read it and fallen in love, they need to make others love it too. Marketers, editors and a team of people are required to give it the okay at an acquisitions meeting before even more people say yes and costing is done (estimated sales versus the cost of producing the book).

If that all checks out, you’ll get one of those fabled return emails (or a phone call) making you an offer. Eventually, a print run is determined based on how well your publisher sells the book to booksellers and a crystal ball (not a real one, but you get the idea), and your book is sent out into the world!

There are of course more steps after that, and plenty in between, but the biggest takeaway when it comes to finding a publisher is the only thing that matters is how passionate they are about your book.

This was the final blog from everything I learned at my first writers conference. I hope you’ve found the info just as helpful as I did. In case you missed them, the other blogs can be found at the following links:

— K.M. Allan

You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

41 thoughts on “The One Thing That Matters When Looking For A Publisher

  1. Well, when you put it like that, it seems like it’d take a miracle (almost!) to get a book published. It’s hard work for everyone involved, but I do think you’re right–if there’s passion at the start, it can work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It does come across that way, doesn’t it? Yep, once again, passion for the project is what will get everyone on the same page. It’s finding that other passionate person/s that seems to be the biggest obstacle. Thanks for reading, Rebecca!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. sarahacahill

    I never knew there were so many people involved with saying ‘yes,’ before. And advice in general should always be taken with a grain of salt. It shouldn’t always be followed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bernadette. I know, right? It was an odd tip to hear. Fiction books are based on imagination so why can’t you imagine the place you’re setting it? That’s what writers do. It’s also what research is for.


  3. Thanks for sharing this advice tied in with your experiences, Kate! It’s always so reassuring to see a deserving, hardworking writer get a ‘yes’, especially with all you went through to get there. Yep, passion is what’s needed, for sure! This post is fantastic xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In my long journey to Indie publications, I’ve come to agree with you. I’ve had agents passionate about my book but couldn’t sell it to others. I’ve had interest from the big guys but wanted everything their way (and there went my voice). Sounds like you attended a good conference.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Angie Sim

    I was going to comment how helpful this post was, and then I checked out the links you provided- so scratch that, this entire blog is wonderful for new writers who have no idea what they’re doing (like me!) Thanks so much for sharing; looking forward to reading more of your content.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lindsey Russell

    Only writing about where you live is as dumb a piece of advice as only write what you know. Agatha Christie never murdered anyone but wrote rather good murder mysteries, and while many historical novelists might live in the country their story is set they didn’t live in the time it was set in. Therefore it follows you don’t have to live in a place to set your book there – especially now we have google earth to consult and not just photos and maps 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a fascinating series. I’m really happy you shared your experience with us.

    The one thing I have learned in this journey, and I’m sure you’ll agree, we want our work to be cared for by those who love it just as much as we do. I’m seeing a lot of passion with the small press that signed me. I couldn’t be happier.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. More and more I am reminded of what a hard road this is. I’m writing my first book, right now so many hopes, but a really long way to go and that’s if an agent accepts it, ever.

    Great informative post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is a hard road, and hearing this type of advice from publishers does drive that home, but it’s also a journey worth trying. Good luck with your book.


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