Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Finding a Publisher is Like Finding a New Pair of Jeans

This month starts my guest blogging and today I welcome Mariam L. Thomas.

So there I was, walking into the clothing store with high hopes as I headed toward the jeans department of a major retail store.  As I reached the department, it suddenly occurred to me that I wasn't exactly sure which type of jeans I was looking for.  There were so many different types to choose from.  Did I want a pair that sat below the waist, bootcut jeans, flare jeans or low-riders that are also bootcut?  I almost wanted to turn around and go back home.

So it goes for many aspiring authors.  There are so many publishers out there in the big world of all things literary, they simply aren't sure where or how to start the process.  How did I resolve my jeans dilemma?  I did some research.  True story.  Right there, in the department store.  I read the various tags found on different pairs of jeans, until I found a description for a pair that sounded like me.  Then I tried each of them on, until I was able to walk out of the store with a pair of jeans that felt as if they were meant for me — after I've lost a few pounds, of course.

Going back to the journey for aspiring authors and their quest to find the perfect publisher; I would tell you to do one very important thing RESEARCH.  It's a waste of your time to blindly send out query letters to every single publisher out there.  Understand what genre your book falls into, and then research publishing companies who publish that genre.  Once you've found your list, look to see who the editor is that handles that genre.  This is important.  You want to be sure that you address your query letter to the right editor.

Now, before you send out that query letter, I need you to do something else quite important.  More research on writing a "winning" query letter.  I want you to try out a few that you find, the same way you would try on jeans.  How?  Find samples of two or three that fit your writing style and your book.  Many well-known authors have published their winning query letters.  I have always believed that you don't always have to re-invent the wheel.  Its okay to use what is out there if it has proven to work.

Now I know it's tempting to want to send your entire manuscript with your query letter.  Fight the urge.  Please.  Keep in mind that most publishing companies only request the first three chapters of your work.

Here is the last thing you want to do before you submit your query letter and the first three chapters of your manuscript to that publishing company that is going to fit your book like a pair of perfectly-fitting jeans:  Have everything edited.  Not by your cousin, friend or mother (unless they're professional editors in their secular lives).  Remember, just like you want your jeans to "make a flattering and modest impression," so goes your query letter.

About the Author:
Marian L. Thomas is the best-selling author of two award-winning titles, Color Me Jazzmyne and My Father's Colors.  Her newest title, Strings of Color, released on April 1, 2012.  You can find more information about publishing and getting published on her blog: http://www.thewritersinkspot.blogspot.com


  1. All of Marian's tips are right on the money! The only thing left to say is that like the jeans, there's no guarantee you're going to find the ones that fit you just right... unless you visit a lot of stores and try on several choices. So follow her advice, but plan to do it many many times!

  2. Love your post, but I received an error message for the link you gave us. I subscribed and look forward to your posts!