My Publishing Experiences (1): Choice of publisher

I’ve decided to  chart my progress with publishers after having the wind knocked out of my sails a bit yesterday by an email from my chosen publisher. I reflected that I haven’t actually had a smooth time of things so far, and that it was a bit naïve of me to think that all of a sudden everything would be perfect. I also want to turn this obstacle, which I hope won’t be difficult to overcome, into an opportunity for others to learn from my experience.

So I should begin at the beginning. My enquiries always begin with an email, followed by a phone or Skype call.
Over a period of about three or four months during spring/summer I looked at reviews of print on demand publishers and drew up a vague shortlist of four or five.
The first one had an online contact form which didn’t work. I sent a letter as some kind of test but didn’t receive a reply. I rang and asked the first person I spoke to whether the publisher handled short stories. They replied that they didn’t know but would put me through to someone who did. The second person said that they didn’t know either, they didn’t think so, but well, yeah, why not. I mentioned their contact form did not seem to be working and heard a rather unconcerned and casual thanks and that they would tell their IT department.
I sent off an email to a second publisher and received a reply which was a little less formal than I had expected. Their messages on my phone always began with the word ‘yes’ followed by ‘hello’ which just irritated me. I researched the contact but only found a personal video on YouTube. There’s nothing wrong with this but it just wasn’t what I expected. I asked if I could work with another person but received a long email (most of which  I didn’t read) telling me that they spoke to 100 writers every week. I had an image of a conveyor-belt style production line so didn’t contact them again. Just over a month later the same person left another message – a follow-up call – on my phone but I didn’t reply.
I made contact with a third publisher, one with little experience but which ran a smaller operation, and who was friendly if a little patronising. They concluded that even though they were busy they would have time to accept my book. I was flattered.
I went to a fourth publisher and by this time I was pretty short of enthusiasm. I filled in a very short online application form and waited a few weeks for something to happen but nothing did. I filled in the form again and this time made contact. I sent off my carefully worded email and received a polite reply back. Things were starting to look up.
The person I chatted to over the phone (details of this in the next post) was friendly and informed, and I was amused that they had been trained to carry out the financial transaction over the phone, there and then. There was no hard sell but I decided to take the plunge as it had been some three months since I had finished the final draft of my first book. I chose a package which included a partial editorial edit and overall review. A few days later, or maybe a week or so, I was handed to another person to talk about how to send the manuscript. This involved making a few more changes and then finally I sent it. I was then told to wait three to five weeks for the review. Yesterday I received the ‘editorial team’s’ email. I’ll write about the email in my next post because I’m still not sure how to respond to it.

Things to consider
A longer shortlist
More organisation
More research
To ask more questions (and then more)
I must not feel pressured, or amused, by trained / untrained sales staff
I must keep a separate written record of all conversations / messages / actions carried out
I must not despair, but think and then take action


About S.A. Aslam

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