Sunday, August 28, 2016


If you are seeking a market for a book, you go through much the same process, except that you will study the book publishers. Make your list of possible book topics across the top of your work sheet.

  1. Find the list of possible publishers under the appropriate topical list. Realize that in some cases you may have to cross-reference more than one topic if yours isn’t listed. For example, if you are writing an adult novel dealing with homosexuality, you would look at both “Adult Fiction” and “Controversial Issues,” and see which publishers are on both lists. Although “Controversial Issues” refers to nonfiction, you can usually assume that if a company is willing to deal with it in nonfiction they will in fiction as well.
  2. After reading the Alphabetical Listing for each publisher, eliminate those that don’t look like good prospects, based on any restrictions or problems you find there.
  3. Pull from your files or send for their writers’ guidelines and a current book catalog. Their book catalog will list new books they are releasing, as well as books still available on their back list.
  4. Carefully read the guidelines and highlight any information of particular interest, especially anything that indicates this might be a good publisher for your book project (or that it would not).
  5. Next, study the book catalog, following these steps:

  1. Get an overview of the whole catalog, noting what types of books they publish. Is there anything they publish you aren’t in agreement with? Would you feel comfortable having your book included in this catalog? If so go on, if not, cross this one off your list. (Note: In some cases you may want your book included where it can provide “Salt and Light” even when you are not in agreement with other books in the catalog.)
  2. Next, look for the section that would include your book, say it’s a book on (marriage). Do they have more than one book or a whole section on (marriage) books? If so, do they have a book on the same aspect of (marriage) that you planned to cover (check both front list and back list books*)? You want them to have a good number of books in the same general area, but if they have a book on exactly the same aspect of the topic, chances are they will not consider yours. Publishers typically will not publish a new book that is in direct competition to another book in their line. What you are looking for is a publisher who has a gap you can fill; where your book will compliment their current list. So, if they have a number of books in your interest area, but not one on exactly the same aspect, then leave them on your list. * Note: Front list books are books currently being released, and back list books are ones published previously.
  3. At this point, ask your self honestly if your book would fit naturally into this catalog.

  1. For the next step in your book marketing, go to your local Christian bookstore. Most authors overlook this important step in the marketing process. A bookstore can be one of your most important resources in finding a publisher for your book. While at the bookstore:

  1. Find the section where they sell your topic. See what is already on the shelf. Can you find a book the same or similar to yours? (If so, make a note of the title, author, publisher, and publication date.)
  2. While you’re checking out the books, pay attention to the covers, bindings, type styles, graphics, etc., for each publisher. Is there a publisher that is particularly impressive, or one you don’t care for? Make note of which ones they are.
  3. Which publisher(s) seem to have the most books in this section? Check to see if all the publishers you are considering have books in this section. If not, try to find out why not (ask the clerk, book buyer, or manager.)
  4. If possible, speak with the book-buyer. If it is a large store, you may need to make an appointment ahead of time. Tell them the book you are planning and ask which publisher(s) they would go to for such a book. Many authors do not realize that certain publishers are known for producing certain types of books—and those are the publishers a book store is most likely to go to when ordering that type of book. As an author it is to your advantage to be published by a publisher known for the type of book you want to do.
  5. Also ask them any other questions that have come to mind as you have checked out the book shelves. Ask if they get many requests for the type of book you are planning, and if so, what books do they recommend or sell the best in this area? (Make note of this information for the marketing section of your book proposal. These are also the books you should read if you haven’t already.)
  6. The bookstore is also a good marketing resource when you have an unusual product or topic in mind that does not fit the usual channels, or one that you can’t find in the topical lists. For example, I once had plans for a file of 3x5 index cards of ideas for teachers. Since it was not the typical product, I went to the bookstore to see if I could find any sets of index cards for sale. What I needed was a publisher who had worked in this format previously and would know how to handle the production end of the process. The same thing usually works with any unusual format or topic.
At this point you should have a fairly reliable list of potential publishers for your projected book project. However, I would also encourage you to ask yourself very honestly whether the world needs your book. If you are just rehashing the same old topic in the same old way, it probably doesn’t. If you have read the competing books you have found, you need to be convinced—and be able to convince a publisher—that your book is different or better than what is already available. If it isn’t, then move on to another topic that is.

That concludes this preliminary plan for both periodicals and books. When you reach this point in either process, you will be ready to go to work on those articles, stories, or books. The following sections will take you on to the next steps in the various areas of publishing.

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