My Publishing Journey: Barking Rain Press

BRP-Color-LogoIn 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…

Thanks for reading!

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21 responses to “My Publishing Journey: Barking Rain Press

  1. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Carol!

  2. Thanks for this informative post and congratulations! I’ll look forward to reading it.

  3. Appreciate the suggestions, Judy. Thankfully, I have until August to knock things out.

  4. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Hi Marilyn, I submitted in one email but each segment was a separate word document. One suggestion: create your documents as .doc vs. .docx. A lot of folks with older computers can’t open .docx. The instructions will often say so, but why take the chance? As far as your submission, just follow the submission guidelines to the letter. Take your time with it, double and triple check. (See previous comment by Kristina Stanley for more on this). Good luck with your journey! Please keep me posted.

  5. Thanks, fellow Guppy, for sharing your Barking Rain experience. I’ve just finished a manuscript and this is very helpful info. Question: Did you submit your package as one document, like line-item responses to subheadings?

  6. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Hi Grace, I had a sample “dream” contract from the Writers Union of Canada and the BRP contract was better than that! But I did take the time to review and compare and I also asked a couple of questions and the publisher was very prompt to respond. I also had gotten recommendations from other authors who have been published by BRP before sending my submission, so I knew they were good to deal with. I think we are sometimes so keen to get published we don’t do our homework on the publisher, but I was very careful to do so. A good question, thanks for asking it.

  7. Grace Topping

    Hi, Judy —

    Congratulations! You’ve shown us that taking your career into your own hands can work. My questions relates to signing a contract with Barking Rain Press without an agent. Did you have anyone review the contract first?

  8. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Susan. Yes, we all have to learn the art of patience. I have you in my to-read pile as well!

  9. Susan Van Kirk

    Judy, Great post…very well written and with lots of practical information about what actually goes on once you find a publisher. I, too, have the problem of waiting…waiting…waiting. I have to work on my patience. It takes publishers so long to actually get your book out once they say “yes.” I’m looking forward to having you on my blog down the road, and I plan to read your book once it is released! Enjoy this excitement!

  10. Judy Penz Sheluk

    It’s a deal!

  11. Kristina Stanley

    Absolutely. We could guest blog on each other’s sites. Yay.

  12. Judy Penz Sheluk

    I know! I would love you to guest on my blog (Interview with an Author series) when your book releases. The fact that you were shortlisted for Unhanged Arthur and the CWA Debut Dagger is very impressive and I’m sure folks would love to hear about that process. Let me know if you’re interested when the time comes.

  13. Kristina Stanley

    I’m looking forward to reading the Hanged Man’s Noose too. Our books should be coming out at the same time. Very cool!

  14. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Kristina! You’re right about getting the submission package right. I also used a highlighter to make sure I’d covered everything off. I’m looking forward to reading Descent and Blaze!

  15. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Christine. I’ve contacted the three writing groups you recommended but so far I haven’t heard back. Will do so again once I have the book in my hands! Thanks so much for your support.

  16. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Sheri! I can’t wait!

  17. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Diane! Yes, patience is a virtue, although not one of mine. I am learning to develop the “patience gene.”

  18. Kristina Stanley

    Exciting times! You are so right about submitting a complete package. When I submitted to Imajin, my husband and I spend four days getting the package right. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can pick out the tiniest of mistakes. I also printed the requirements from the website and highlighted when I’d competed each item. It took al to of work, but was worth it.

  19. I am so enjoying your blog postings describing, in fascinating detail, the process and journey to having your book published. It must be your talent as a mystery writer that I find myself intrigued and keen to read the next installment. I appreciate all the practical advice, insights and revelations of the behind-the-scenes world of how getting published really works. Thanks for generously sharing it all with your readers. Any of these postings would be very interesting speaker topics at writing conferences and meetings.

  20. eightpawswriting

    Hi Judy,
    Thanks for sharing your experience. Mine was similar and the next part of sharing your book with readers will be over the top in satisfaction, work and excitement.

  21. Congratulations! Waiting for an answer can be the longest days of our lives. I look forward to reading more posts about your journey.

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