So what exactly is this checklist that publishers consider before signing a contract with an author?
- The Book - obviously, the book is a large contribution to the publisher's consideration. While it is not the only decision maker, the publisher will not bother looking at any of the other items on the checklist if the manuscript is no good. Competition (other books within the genre) and Market (is there a great enough interest to support this book?) are also items that the publisher will research before deciding on your manuscript.
- The Author - If you don't hook a publisher with your pre-promotion of your manuscript, you won't be able to hook readers. A publisher will want to see that you can put as much promotion into your book as they will. You are an investment, and they will want to see a guaranteed return on that investment. When considering an author, a publisher will look at several factors: your credentials, enthusiasm, and social media platform. You need to start promoting long before you start submitting - to a publisher, a combined social media following of 3,000 people is a pool of built-in readers. If only 30% of those followers purchase your book, it's a great start right out of the gate.
- The Promotion - A publisher will want to hear all about your promotion plans for the book. You'll want to explain a concrete plan to use your pre-established platform to help sell your work. Be creative and extensive - the more in-depth, unique, and long term your plan is, the more likely the publisher is to be interested. Do not just focus on the first month after release - think beyond... 3 months, 12 months, two years...
- Follow-Ups - Are you a one trick pony or do you have more up your sleeve? Signing an author is an investment... a publisher wants to see that you can produce more than one work. Whether it is a sequel or just more in that genre, a publisher will want to see a brand in you.
Publishing is a business, just like any other, and for that business to be successful, it depends on the validity of the partner. Publishers want to find authors who are great business people. Your work is your product, so learn to push, sell, and promote it and yourself. These are the first steps you can take in securing your first publishing contract.