*But were afraid to ask
1. How do you choose what to publish? (Or what makes author X’s book better than mine?)
It’s not as easy as you would think. First of all, the story really has to grab us, keep us enthralled, and present a world that we find fascinating. But it also has to have a unique quality to it. The publishing industry and Hollywood have this flawed ideology that if something is successful, you should make a hundred more just like it. We look for stories that haven’t been done before or utilize a fresh take. Give us something that’s not familiar.
2. Why do you specialize in certain genres? (Or what do you mean you don’t publish cyber-punk-paranormal-alternate universe?
Simple answer: It’s easier to compete in a small niche than it is to try and compete against well-established publishers in less specific genres such as paranormal romance, police procedurals, thrillers, or fantasy sci-fi. By specializing in gay historical fiction, that narrows the playing field and we can strive to offer the best product in our field.
3. How do books generate profit for the publisher? (Or if you publish me, I’ll be rich and famous, right?)
Well, books cost money to produce. There are many expenses that add up. Once a story is selected and the contract has been signed, we have to pay an editor, a cover artist, a book designer, and then there are set-up fees for the printer, cataloging fees and ISBN registration. It usually comes out to somewhere between $1000 to $2000 per book. Of course all that is paid for by the publisher and is not counted against author royalties. So when a book begins to sell, the author gets his contracted percentage from the sale and whatever is left over goes to the publisher to start recouping those expenses. If a book sells really well, a publisher can recoup his expenses in a few months, but more often than not it will take considerably longer before a book starts to show an actual profit. In any case the author earns royalties for each sale even if the publisher never turns a profit for the book. I’ll bet you’re wondering how much of that $14.99 retail price goes straight into the publisher’s pocket, aren’t you? Well after subtracting the retailer’s and distributor’s cuts, the printing and shipping costs, and the author’s royalties would you believe there is often less than $2 left?
4. How important is promotion for a small press? (Or once my book is on Amazon, it will automatically sell and because it is good it will soon be a bestseller, right?)
How important? Very. Without promotion your title wouldn’t sell a single copy on Amazon. I’m not kidding. Without reviews, a brilliantly-written synopsis, and eye-catching cover, no one would buy your book.
5. What is the most annoying thing aspiring authors do when they want you to publish them? (Or how can I get you to notice me without pissing you off?)
The most annoying thing is when writers feel the rules don’t apply to them. Publishers always post submission guidelines. Read them and then follow them. But also do yourself a favor and do a little research about the publisher first. Look through their catalog of titles and determine if your book is even remotely compatible. Submitting a raunchy, scandalous heterosexual memoire to a publisher that has only published gay historical fiction is probably not going to fly. And when you receive a polite rejection letter, don’t get all huffy and write back demanding to know what is wrong with your story.
Well this was going to be a top ten list, but I could only think of five.