For years I’ve said my ultimate dream is to publish with Avon books. I always thought it would be the pinnacle of success to say I write for Avon/Harper Collins. But, as time goes on and I learn more and more about this business of publishing it’s not as scary or intimidating as I originally thought. I am looking at publishers now that I have finished manuscripts I am seeing things differently. No longer are my dreams pinned on Avon, instead I am looking at publishers as a whole and asking myself, based off my first impression, who is going to treat me the best? Who is going to help me grow?
Not easy questions but something writers really need to ask themselves before they sign on the dotted line. At RWA nationals this year, I was able to participate in the publishers book signings and ended up with a ton of free books. One of the things that was an obvious stand out for me was how the book signings were organized and how the authors were presented. For example some publishers had prepared ahead of time and had name signs for the authors. A small thing, but far from trivial. As I rounded each table I had to look around a horde of people to see who was signing, and if I had to look off their book it was sometimes impossible (bad eyes and reading a name on a cover from a distance is hard) and I know I missed a few of my favorites! (However – gotta say – I meet Julia London again – and went all fan girl crazy – again!) By presenting their authors, showing some sort of continuity, and community, I was more impressed with them.
Also it was clear which publishers were investing in an event, I might go to a book signing and there were no more books available, that doesn’t speak volumes for me. For example, I attended one publishers signing and they were full of books and the authors had things to sign and enjoy the interaction with readers/writers. I spent more time at those signings and I met more unknown authors, and have found new favorites. I went to another at the same time and most of the authors had run out of books didn’t have anything to sign, and some authors were already gone – disappointing for a reader but also disappointing for the image of that publishing house.
With small presses advancing in the market and the popularity of self-publishing, we as authors, have more power than we think. We may not sell to our dream press, but maybe a smaller press is going to give us the opportunity to shine much brighter. A smaller press, (and by this I am not talking about indy presses or exceptionally small e-book or print on demand publishers) has just as much to gain from your books success as you do. Wouldn’t that make them more invested in you and your future with them? Even if it is one of the big presses, if they are not going to show you respect then why sign? Why be with a house who isn’t going to give you the 100% you give them?
Although these are just observations, my first impressions with these publishers has given me insight on what they will be like to work with should I ever have the opportunity to see my work in print. Those that presented their authors well, invested time and money into the signings, really made me want to work with them because I could see how they would respect me as an author and promote my work. I kinda have my crown jewels of which houses I’d like to work with now that I’ve seen them in action. Luckily Avon is still leading my list, but I’m impressed with NAL/Penguin, and my new favorite is Sourcebooks. Granted these are bigger houses but they have really impressed me with how they treat their authors – They have given me good first impressions!
What about you? What first impressions do you have of publishers? What is your dream press?