Have you finally finished your manuscript in the hope to see it published?

If so, you may be looking at sending your finished manuscript to specific publishers who work with your genre. You may even be on the other end of a phone call with a publisher interested in your book.
Before you accept or even discuss any offers, it is a good idea to know as much about the publishing process as possible. You do not want to end up earning less than your title is worth or being taken advantage of simply because you did not do your research first.

It is worth remembering when approaching publishers and getting your book on the shelves, that publishers have their own set of wants and needs when it comes to signing an author.

1. Publishers work with specific genres

Publishers often work under certain genres and specific criteria. For example, you may approach a children’s book publisher who is currently only seeking science-fiction titles for a young adult audience, while another children’s book publisher may only be looking for nature-themed picture books.

There is a vast variance in what individual publishers are looking for despite working under the same genre.

Before sending your manuscript out, it is worth finding out what each publisher wants before approaching them. By doing this you will avoid wasting your time and money on a dead end.

2. Publishers have their own ways of working

Publishers are quite specific about what they want and how they want it.

It is vital you learn as much as you can about them and their guidelines for authors before you send in a query. Each publisher has their own process for accepting and reviewing new books, so it’s worth investigating how an individual publisher prefers to work for example: do they want to see a book outline, the first chapters or the full book. Do they prefer to commission books or seek out celebrities? Do they prefer letters or submissions via their website?

If you do not follow their guidelines, your chances of being published by that specific publisher will likely decrease.

An excellent guide showing just what is expected of you as a writer can be found in any of the Writers’ Market books and other writers handbooks.

3. Publishers have their own way of making payments

The anticipation of receiving an offer from a publisher is exciting but before accepting an offer, it is advisable to understand publishing payments. Not all publishers will pay their authors the same amount. The excitement that comes with an offer can blindside you from the main goal, which is to sell as many books as possible and make the most money.

First-time authors can easily lose sight of this goal and accept any offer which comes their way, despite it being significantly less than they deserve. Common payment methods for book publishers include flat rate payments, royalty payments and an advance.

Advance payments are exciting, but they should be closely looked at in comparison to the long-term payment agreed. Advance payments often seem better than they are. First-time authors tend to find an advance to be an enticing lumpsum regardless of how much it is.

When it comes to royalties, it is important to have everything in writing with a clear schedule set out. Understanding the percentage payment you will receive, and when royalties are declared i.e. Quarterly or annually, is vital.
Remember to find out all the small details and answers to your questions before signing any contract.

No matter what genre of book you are writing or who you receive an offer from, it is essential to fully read and examine any contract before accepting an offer from a publisher.
Be sure to ask as many questions as possible.

A good publisher will be happy to answer any questions you have.


If all these questions have left you scratching your head, then don’t worry, it’s not as bad as it seems. You could always try self-publishing!

I’ve been self-publishing for a while now and have published both print and ebooks, so if talking to someone will help, then you can schedule a call with me via bit.ly/coffee-with-Karen, or message me via my Facebook page.

Either way, I’d love to hear from you.