Sunday, April 8, 2012

3 Tips for Your First Conversation with a Publisher

First impressions count. They're not always correct, of course, but they count nonetheless.

When you're planning to be an author, your first conversation with a potential publisher counts just as much.

To help you make the best first impression you can, follow these tips.

#1 Be honest.

The publisher will most likely ask you lots of questions about your book idea. Answer as honestly as you can. If you don't know the answer, say so.

Sometimes we ask about the market you think your book will be written for. You don't have be exact or even correct, because chances are that the market you first envision will change as you discuss the book in more detail.

If you're unsure about the market, say so. But don't get ahead of yourself and say that the book is for everyone. No book is for everyone, not a single one ever written including the Bible. (For more on writing for a specific market, see "Picture the Person You're Writing For."

#2 Be humble.

I've had potential authors actually argue with me about how and to whom their book should be written and marketed.

Don't do that.

When it comes to publishing, the publisher is the expert, not you. So listen to the publisher. If you think you disagree with something, that's fine, but don't take the publisher on from the point of your being an expert. Take him on from the perspective of wanting to learn.

#3 Be professional.

Sounds like a no-brainer but really, it isn't. We want our authors to feel comfortable with us, to feel open and talk with us as colleagues.

Sometimes, though, that familiarity breeds conduct a bit too, shall we say, loose.

Your publisher is still, when comes to authoring, your supervisor, in a way, so act accordingly.

Don't drink too much at dinner. Don't disparage colleagues. Don't invite friends or family members to a publisher's event without asking the publisher first.


The best tip, though, is to just be your very best you. That will be more than enough.