To publish or not to publish? If you are just starting out in publishing, knowing just what to publish can become a nightmare. As soon as writers learn you are publisher who is 1. looking for manuscripts, and 2. open to unsolicited manuscripts, you may find yourself swamped with inquiries and manuscripts. I would hope that you have already decided what subjects you are open to publishing prior to establishing yourself as a publisher. Your choices should reflect subjects you are passionate about and/or subjects you feel you are capable of moving(selling). I prefer publishing topics I am passionate about because it makes selling them that much easier.
Once you know what subjects you are interested in publishing, you should set up guidelines for submissions. This will not deter motivated writers from sending you inquiries and manuscripts that have nothing to do with your guidelines but it does allow you to respectfully reject their submissions with ease as well as help you stay focused with your publishing goals. Not only will you have to reject submissions that are not within your guidelines, but you will also have to reject submissions that are within the guidelines for various reasons.
So what are some of the reasons you may have to reject submissions within your guidelines?
1. Poor quality – This is the #1 reason for my own publishing company. For me, it isn’t so much an issue with writing/grammar, etc. (because after all, we do have editors), but more so an issue with subject quality. You may have several submissions where the subject just isn’t interesting or it isn’t presented in a way that would interest readers.
2. Same Story/Different Author – This simply means you may find submissions from writers featuring a storyline that has simply been overdone (i.e. many authors writing about the same thing over and over again). I find this more prevalent in fiction and particularly romantic fiction. I mean, you can only publish a story about a cheating husband and broken-hearted wife so many times.
3. Author/Publisher incompatibility – Do not overlook this! Even if an author has a fantastic manuscript, do not compromise yourself and your business by working with an author you can not manage. If you find yourself bumping heads with an author (especially from the get go), move on. Get to know the author before any contracts are signed. The problem with working with authors you can’t get along with is that the contract is usually for a number of years. Think about that. I have had such an experience and it simply isn’t worth it. *Note: This goes for writers with unrealistic expectations for their books, those who don’t understand they have to do their own marketing or at least help, and those who simply can not get past their own ego to make the publisher/author relationship work.
So what are some reasons you should publish a title?
1. You should publish a title if when you read it, you can’t put it down. Period. Regardless of your marketing/business plans, if you have a manuscript that is compelling, publish it. You are a publisher, you can have as many titles in your catalog as you want. Your main goal is to make sure they are of the best quality.
2. The title is well written, draws the reader in and covers a subject you are passionate about.
It is really this simple. Do not let someone hustle you into publishing a title you are not passionate about. *Note: There are some titles you can publish that you know will sell on their own (i.e. self-help & how-to books). These can create a bit of a constant cash-flow for you. But there should be more titles in your catalog that you are passionate about than not.