Step One Find the right place to send it

The initial thing you must determine is who to send your submission to, in the same manner that the bookbuyer walks to the part of the bookstore that has the type of books she enjoys reading.

Whenever I look at a book on the shelf, my eye automatically goes to the little imprint on the spine that says who the publisher is. Sometimes, though, be aware that the name listed may be an imprint of a larger house. For example, Spectra is the science fiction imprint for Bantam. To find the publishing house, turn to the copyright page which will usually have the publisher's address listed. Imprints are the way a large house breaks down inside of itself to have various smaller parts. Also, some famous editors, such as Nan Talese, have their own imprint.

(Another interesting aspect of the copyright page is that you can tell what printing the book is in—there is usually a list of descending numbers. Wherever the numbers stop, that is the printing of that book.)

There are numerous publications such as the Novel And Short Story Writer's Market that list publishers and their needs and requirements. These books give both the address and what each one wants in the way of a submission. The information listed also tells you what type of books they specialize in.

Use not only the Writer's Market but also do what our bookbuyer is doing and go to the bookstore and look for books similar to what you have written. Check who published those books and then look them up in the Market. Every publisher has an affinity for certain types of novels. Also, remember that you do not have to break into the top of the line of the market right from the start. There are numerous smaller presses that are more accessible. Clyde Edgerton has done quite well with Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. I talk about this in the last chapter, but I believe that contrary to what many people believe in these days of corporate mergers, small presses are making a comeback—actually as a result of these mergers.

I have noticed a trend lately: less and less major publishers are accepting unsolicited material and deal only with agents. The process I describe for a submission in this chapter is the same with submitting to agents who I will cover in Chapter 27.

When preparing to market a manuscript, my agent always says you have to "know the scorecard." Know who is who. You have to do the same.

Understand also that the corporate take-overs and buyouts have changed the face of publishing. Bantam, Doubleday, Dell was just bought by Random House. Houses are eating each other up ferociously and you should know who is who because different imprints in the same house won't compete against themselves for the same manuscript. Ultimately this is one of many reasons why you need an agent, but let's hold off on that until I talk about agents.

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