In A Change of Direction, my most recent post in this series, I discussed my decision to shift my focus from searching for an agent to submitting directly to a well-established small press. Fortunately, my timing was bang on for Barking Rain Press, a publisher on the Mystery Writers of America’s Approved Publisher List. (Barking Rain is open to submissions just twice a year: February and August.)
The first step was to prepare my submission package according to the instructions on their website. At first glance, it’s somewhat formidable, but the reality is if you’re ready to get published, you should have all of this information readily available, including a Marketing Plan. Yes, a publisher will help with this, but much of the promotion will still fall on the author’s shoulders. At the very least that means having an active website/blog and some social media presence. (I currently use Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter; some authors also like Google+ and/or LinkedIn.)
BRP Initial Submission Package
- Title (please provide at least a working title for your work)
- Genre (fantasy, mystery, science fiction, western, etc.)
- Word count
- A 40-word, promotional-style “quick teaser” blurb for web copy. Sell us with this blurb like you’ll sell potential readers with it!
- Promotional text for the back cover of the work (100-200 words)
- An outline/overview of the entire story arc (the synopsis)
- Any previous publication information on the work, including where and when it was published, if applicable
- A short author bio (100-250 words)
- A Marketing Plan describing what you can do to help get the word out about your book
- The first four (4) chapters of your book
I hit the “send” button on February 15, 2014, and received an immediate email acknowledgment that my submission had been received, and that I would hear back in late March. Sure enough, in late March I received an email stating that my submission package was complete, and as such, my material would be carefully considered. (From this I assumed that at least some authors submit incomplete packages, and in so doing, are taken out of consideration). The email went on to promise notification by early May: either a request for the full manuscript, or a rejection.
Happily, in early May I received the request for the full manuscript, and a commitment to get back to me one or the other in about eight weeks. To say those were a long eight weeks would be an understatement, especially since Barking Rain Press does not accept simultaneous submissions (this is fairly common, but it does mean you can’t try to sell your work to another publisher during that time).
Eight weeks came and went. Then nine. I brooded. Ate junk food. Drove my poor husband crazy. And then, on July 1st, (Canada Day!) I received an email that started like this:
Thank you for your patience as we reviewed your manuscript, THE HANGED MAN’S NOOSE. It is an engaging story, filled with evocative characters and places — plus a very intriguing murder mystery. We would love to have the opportunity to publish this book.
I signed the contract on July 15th, with publication scheduled for July 2015. If the one-year time frame comes as a surprise, it’s actually pretty standard in the publishing industry; no matter how clean you think your manuscript is, there will still be required edits (all clearly spelled out in the contract). In my next post in this series, I’ll discuss some of this process, and my work with Narielle Living, the wonderful editor Barking Rain Press assigned to work with me. Stay tuned…