A blog from Tonto Books, featuring musings from the publishing world and some occasional special guest appearances.

Monday, August 20, 2007

How NOT to approach a publisher

We've all read the Yearbook... so why is it that (very few) people still approach you in such poorly conceived ways?

As many of you will know, we set up Tonto Press with the primary aim of nurturing, discovering and developing new writers, as well as working with experienced writers. We made it clear we don't publish poetry and won't publish poetry - why? - Well, you can't do everything, it's not where our interest lies and there are plenty of poetry publishers in our region. Stick to what you know.

We're a friendly bunch... approachable, keen to hear good ideas and will advise if and when we can because we know what it is like to be a writer looking for contact with a publisher. We invite email submissions and we even look at work that doesn't come in via an agent!

I dare say there are publishers out there who don't like being hassled by writers. We're a bit different in this respect too because we're interested in hearing from writers. Of course, we still get our fair share of good and bad submissions. That's always going to happen. However - and no matter if the manuscript is good, bad or ugly - there are certain ways of approaching people like us and here's some tips:

1. Find out what the company publishes and is interested in before approaching. Sending poetry to a publisher who isn't interested in it is quite pointless. Even if your poetry is brilliant, they are not going to publish it.

2. Finding out their names is a good idea. It is more personal and shows initiative.

3. Ask if they are looking for fiction/non-fiction etc at present and if they'd be interested in - brief description of work. Don't just send BCC emails to all your 'publisher contacts'. Our website usually tells you what we are looking for and when. Asking is always the best way.

4. If your spelling is as bad as mine, run a spell check before sending it. It makes all the difference.

5. If they are not interested, don't just send them it anyway. They haven't got time to read it and are not interested! They weren't kidding!

6. If they offer you advice, take it. It will probably be good advice and it means they have bothered to read your submission.

7. Don't keep sending them unsolicited work 'on the off-chance'. This will just annoy them.

8. Importantly - BE POLITE. People tend to react better to polite enquiries.

The last two are specific to a recent writer:

9. No need to be abusive if your work is rejected. It just shows your lack of vocabulary and immaturity.

10. Stop sending abusive emails. It is not big or clever.


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