Romance By Catherine: Research your Target Publisher

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Research your Target Publisher

Okay... so here is a writers corner blog, targeted to inform, and ask, how a writer learns more about their targeted publisher.

On every publisher's web site there is a section for 'submission guidelines'. Every publisher has a different set of needs when they are looking at new work from a author they haven't worked with before. This isn't news to most of you out there, but are you ever truly stumped because the 'sub guidelines' just don't give enough information?

Most of us know not to send a whole manuscript to a publisher who hasn't asked to see it. But, some are starting to ask for this. The small press world, who take electronic submissions, often ask for the whole story up front. To me, this simply makes sense. If after a few chapters the publisher looses interest, then out goes the 'rejection letter'. But if the story engages the editor... 'contract baby.' -

But, for the big houses... the NY publishers who don't want electronic anything... these publisher really don't want stacks of un-published work sitting in their slush pile. So they will ask for a query and a synopsis... or maybe just a query... or maybe a query, synopsis and a partial (the first three chapters of the work) - But what is a author to do when there is nothing written in the submission guidelines in regards to what to send?

Here is where you 'have' to do your homework.

Right now I have a story that I believe is perfect for the Harlequin Blaze line. And as I am finishing and polishing this said story I realized that in all of the wonderful guidelines HQN has given in regards to their sub guidelines... HQN Blaze simply doesn't tell me what they want.

Okay... so I know who to sub my story to... I double check that my story fits what Blaze wants - But this doesn't omit the "YOU NEED TO READ THE LINE" to understand if your story 'truly' fits their needs. Okay, Check! But I still don't know what the Canada office of HQN wants. Query? Synopsis? Partial? Or Full?

Okay... back to square one... cuz I still don't have an answer to my question.

Now I can send an e-mail... or call. And you know something I've learned in the last year? CALL! This is a business baby, and if you've no idea, and have exhausted your resources... pick up the phone. Now, one call, with a direct question isn't a problem for most publishers. An e-mail may serve you well so by all means try this first. But don't go sending off your whole manuscript to a publisher who will toss it in the trash because the 'author' can't follow instructions.

Do your homework. Learn who to address your query to, where to send it, and what to send.

That is all from the writing corner today...

Oh, and... if ANYONE knows exactly what the HQN Blaze line wants in terms of submissions, by all means... leave me a comment and save me a phone call.



Cari Quinn said...

As someone who's had a requested full at Blaze for a little over six months, my recommendation is query, synop and partial of the first 3 chapters. Conventional wisdom says just to send the query and synop, but I don't think you're stepping on any toes by sending your partial too. The writing is what they ultimately need to see anyway.

Best of luck, Catherine! :)

Catherine Bybee said...

I've had one vote for your idea, and one for sending the full. I'll keep looking for the rules and send them exactly what they want!
Thanks, Cari.

Kaye Manro said...

I don't know a lot about the Blaze line, but you have some great info here. I'd say you should follow your own instincts on this one. And good luck!

Sandra Stixrude said...

Catherine - My Writer's Market bible has a quote from HQN saying "write or call for submissions guidelines". I would say in this case, ask them.

But don't send a full unsolicited. This is a fairly traditional pub in many ways. Not good form in most cases unless asked for.