Finding the right home for your manuscript involves homework. Here’s what you need to know
Start with research
Look for books in the market similar to yours. Find out who publishes them. If it’s fiction, chances are, the same publishing house might be interested. In the case of non-fiction, it may be worth pitching your manuscript to a rival publisher.
Since publishing has a lot to do with instinct and taste, it’s crucial to find the right editor for your manuscript – someone who will understand and nurture the book. The acknowledgements in a published book will often have the names of editors, which can be useful.
How to get in touch
* Publishing is all about people, it helps to know someone who can recommend you and your work and/or give you an email address for an editor or a publisher.
* Be sure to keep your email to the point. Don’t drop names and don’t brag (nothing is more off-putting). Let your manuscript do the talking.
* Send a short synopsis of the work and a little bit about yourself in the covering note. Be sure to mention other publications, if any, and any fellowships or prizes related to writing you may have received.
* Do not submit your manuscript by copy-pasting chapters in the email. Attach a Word or PDF file. (Send the first three or four chapters, depending on what the publisher wants to see.)
* If you don’t receive an acknowledgement to your e-mail in a week, re-send your mail. (If you still don’t, it’s best to move on.) Editors usually take up to eight weeks to get back with their decision. Give them the time they need – rushing and reminding them repeatedly will only be counterproductive.
First impressions matter
Make sure your first page is the best it can be. A strong opening = a strong impression.
Don’t just rely on the spellcheck on your computer. Avoid errors. Your initial chapters are often the only chance you’re going to get with a publisher.
PS: If all this is way too much work for you, what you need is an agent.
Diya Kar Hazra is the publisher at Bloomsbury India
From HT Brunch, April 19
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