Yesterday I read a comment on Twitter that said something like: “Publishers do not exist to make your dreams come true”. I wish I’d made note of who tweeted it, but was busy nodding my head in agreement, and doing a dozen other things.
Anyway, as my weekend progressed I found this little quote kept coming back to me. And while I can’t remember who said it, it resonated with me so much that I wanted to blog today on a similar vein. So, here goes – five quick home truths about publishers.
1. 1. Publishers want to make money. They are businesses and, like every business, a publishing house aims to sell goods and make a profit.
2. 2. Publishers want to publish books. Good books which sell well (see number one above – if their books sell well, their profits increase).
3. 3. Publishers have staff whose job it is to select, polish, publish and promote books. Books which they hope will sell well (see number one above).
4. 4. Publishers DO occasionally make mistakes (just like the rest of us). For example, a publisher may reject a book which goes on to be published by another publisher and sell well, making publisher B a lot of money, but publisher A no money. (The most quoted example is the innumerable articles, comments blah blah blah that quote the publishers which rejected the first Harry Potter book and must have lived to regret it. BUT, what is often overlooked is that the publishers who rejected Rowling may not have had the right blend of staff, or branding, or whatever to make that series the big seller it was. And there are probably many more untold stories of books which were rejected by one publisher, and published by another and flopping. ) But back to my point – publishers do sometimes make mistakes, but that is something outside your control as a writer. And in the end, the decisions the publishers make are based on their desire to publish the best possible books for their list – and hence make money (see number one above).
5. 5. You want your book published so it can make money. Publishers want to publish books to make money. You are on the same page, really. You both want the same thing, except you are convinced YOUR book is the best one and the publisher may disagree. But in the end there is no plot to keep you from being published, no secret club, no ulterior motive. Even though sometimes it feels like it. A lot.
Tomorrow I’ll say some things about what you can do to increase your chances of getting published. In the meantime I’d love to hear your reactions to what I’ve said here. Agree? Disagree? Talk to me.