For me, the first place to start when you’ve gotten your manuscript ready for the world is knowing what you want to see that book do.
And that’s a vital question.
You need to know what you want from your book in order to know who might be the best publisher for it or if self-publishing is a better option.
Do you want your book to be published nationally?
Do you want a local focus?
Do you want to travel longer distances to promote and sell it?
Do you want help with the process?
Basically, all of this is to say that you need to think about what YOU want. And I don’t mean in generalities. Everyone wants a bestseller that hits all the big lists and gets read worldwide.
But we have to be honest with ourselves. Those books are pretty damn rare. That’s not saying you don’t have the talent to write one. It’s saying that even if you do, it’s still the tip of the publishing iceberg.
You should aim as high as you want, but prepare for your most likely outcome. That outcome is the national average for publishing. 3000 copies sold. That’s the average. You could far surpass that or you could fall under it.
So, when your manuscript is finished, and you’re ready to show the world, sit down with it. Think about comparable books. Research their paths. See what they did.
And find what you want.
Don’t just assume all publishers are the same. And don’t use the shotgun approach where you query all types of publishers. I can’t tell you how many queries I get from people who haven’t bothered to even look at the company’s website to see what we publish.
Side note: Most editors are pretty busy with queries and letters and other books that are already under contract. We don’t have a ton of free time, so dealing with someone who hasn’t even researched things is a little annoying.
This is part of your job as a writer. You have to know who your audience is and what you want you book to do.
The best step is to find other books like yours. I promise there is at least one like yours. Check those books out. See who the agents were for the authors. Who is the publisher? What path did the book take? What was the marketing strategy? How successful was it?
The reason you must ask this of yourself is that a lack of knowledge can hurt everyone. If you don’t know what you want, and you aren’t sure what a publisher can offer you, both you and the publisher could have a bad experience.
I know it’s the easier path, but you cannot assume a publisher knows what you want and will give it to you. I’ve worked with many authors who don’t like the marketing and sales aspects of publishing. I get it. Most of us don’t like that part. Selling ourselves isn’t something we like that much.
But that’s a HUGE part of the game. It’s like playing baseball but hating grass. It ain’t gonna go well.
That’s just a part you’re going to have to live with.
So, do your research. The more you know about your audience, your market, and publishers you are interested in, themore knowledgeable you are in the process. You can ask more questions. And, more importantly, you can ask the right questions.