By familiarizing yourself completely with the genre you’re writing in, and hoping to submit to, you come across as professional and serious to potential agents or publishers. Knowing what they’re talking about makes it easier for you to be assured that you are doing the right thing and being taken care of properly. It also limits the chances of being scammed.
The following is an example of what you should familiarize yourself with if submitting to the mystery/suspense marketplace. This example can be changed slightly to represent any genre.
1. Know the Company Name (completely), and all its imprints.
2. Parent Company
3. Make certain you have the correct mailing address. Places move, directories get outdated.
4. Have the correct telephone number as well as the correct Email, and fax numbers.
5. Ensure you have the correct title and name of the person responsible for reviewing manuscripts. Do not necessarily rely on directories as they can become outdated, people leave firms, etc. Call and inquire about the person you should submit to.
6. Know the year the company was established.
7. Know the types of books they published. Review their websites to see former authors published through them.
8. Know the number of books they’ve published per year. Again check their website. Research!
9. Find out the number of queries and submissions they receive per year. This information should be on their website too. If not, call and inquire.
10. There should be some record of the percent of first-time authors; also sometimes the percent of agented versus unagented writers published through them. (Writer’s Market has this information)
11. Payment/contract policies. Most are standard throughout publishers, but finding this information out is critical to contract talks.
12. Find out how long the time period from acceptance to publication of your manuscript will be. This information is available but will require research.
13. On their website should be acceptable submission formats and other information about submissions.
14. Included on the website or in the Writer’s Market, will be information regarding response times for queries.
15. Find out if they provide a book catalog of all books published through them.
16. Included on their website should be manuscript guidelines.
17. Find out if nonfiction subjects of interest are part of what the publisher is looking for.
18. Find out if they do accept nonfiction, and any publisher’s comments on them, and what their submission policy is. Never assume it’s the same as for fiction.
19. Find out if they are taking solicited or unsolicited manuscripts.
20. Find out what they are currently seeking. Don’t assume they will love what you are writing, research to see if it’s a good fit.