Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Bumpy, Baffling Road to Publishing 3

Hi and welcome back. Last time, if you recall, I spent several hundred words discussing the agent query potholes littering the road to publishing. Contrary to how it must seem, my goal really isn't to rant about how I've been "wronged." It's really not a "poor me" tale. In fact I find it rather comical. Frustrating but comical. And I know it's just business. Everyone is trying to pay the bills, put food on the table. Even agents. And rejection is just part of the meal. It's the Lima beans. (When you were little didn't you just hate seeing those nasties on your plate? Especially when your protestations did nothing but piss off your parents? Anyway... 

Before I launch into my next dissertation, I know you've all been awaiting the Big Reveal, right? Unless, of course, you already went to Google and checked for yourself. If you did, you saw this: 

The "Big 6" with their most familiar imprints in parentheses:
public domain

MacMillan (St. Martin, Holt) 
Simon & Schuster (Scribner, Free Press, Pocket) 
Hatchett (Little & Brown, Grand Central) 
Penguin (Riverhead, Dutton, GP Putnam, Viking, Portfolio) 
Harper-Collins (Collins, William Morrow, Amistad, Avon)
Random House (Doubleday, Knopf, Bantam Dell, Crown)  

Here is a site that has the most detailed information. 

So these are the publishers that produce the bulk of what is on the table at Costco. And these guys don't like to get "unsolicited manuscript submissions" from the likes of me. They insist that newbies to go through the proper channel--the agent. Once you get an agent to agree to represent you, (a gargantuan task in itself) she then pitches the manuscript to publishing representatives with the hopes that one of them will buy it. Sometimes, if your manuscript is really, really attractive, there might an auction. This means that several reps bid on it. This is when you're in fat city. Usually this happens with celebrities--those aforementioned Sure Bets. 

I'm not a sure bet. At least to the publishing world. And this brings me to the second road to publication. Two words: Independent Publishers. These are the small presses that publish only a handful of books per year. Google "Independent Publishers" and it's like Christmas with columns of possibilities on the screen. One of the cool things about indie publishers is that you can send a query letter directly to their acquisitions editor, bypassing the Literary Agent altogether. The down side is that Indie publishers are just as inundated with queries as agents are. This is where patience becomes a virtue.   

I don't have a lot of experience with querying indie publishers yet. But I'm encouraged. And if it turns out this road leads to a dead end, I'll turn around and head back. I've got one more road worth exploring. 

PS Wednesday, December 14,  I am guest blogger for Women's Memoirs Blog. If you're contemplating writing your story, Matilda and Kendra's blog is THE place to begin. It's chock full of inspiring writing ideas and regular features about the craft of writing memoir. I hope you'll check it out. 

One more news item: I just found out from my editor that book one in the Reflections From Women series is available for the Kindle for 99 cents! Just go to Amazon

As always, 


  1. Glad you posted the Big Six, I was curious. I think everyone knows someone wanting to be a writer and my friend never made it into that world, outside writing ad copy. But it seems doing a blog is a good step since it equals exposure. I saw on WordPress where a blogger got picked up to publish his blog stories in a book. So, who knows?

  2. Dear Grace ~ I wish you patience as you wait to hear from indie publishers. Another route, and maybe you're already thinking about this, is publishing yourself.

    Love and hugs to you ~ FlowerLady

  3. Hi Grace, I read your post at Women's Memoirs and came over to check out your site! I am currently considering publication options for my memoir too so I understand just what you're saying here. Self publishing is another option that's looking attractive to me too. I look forward to getting to know you better!

  4. I know a few people who have self published and I think I would go that route to start off (whenever I get so inclined.)
    Does having a blog help at all when trying to get an agent to take you on?? I would think it provides them with an excellent forum to review your writing style???

  5. Grace, will you be writing about how to find an agent? And, do the agents categorize themselves by story genre?

    Fingers x'd you find a cool indie publisher.

    Cheers, Jenni

  6. I was curious about the Big 6...the whole process seems so frustrating...still hoping to find an agent eventually...


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