Random House and other big publishers have been consolidating like crazy, downsizing, shuffling people around (those that are left, anyway). No doubt some of the mid-sized publishers are probably doing the same thing.
Uncle Jim has it right in this thread in the Bewares and Backgrounds forum at the Water Cooler.
What he says is:
"Do not pay to be published.
"Real publishers cost you nothing. They pay you. (And not just a measly dollar, in case you run into PublishAmerica.)
"Here's what to do:
"Go to a bookstore. Find books on the shelf that are similar to yours.
"Write down the publishers' names.
"Get those publishers' guidelines. Follow the guidelines to the letter.
"If the publisher says you need an agent:
"Find the names of agents who have sold books like yours. By "sold" I mean they have books on the shelves in bookstores that you've seen with your own eyes. Get their guidelines and follow them to the letter.
"While all this is happening, write a new, different, and better book."
It's not easy, but it's best to be prepared. Start with the agents, if they pass, get out your list (you do have a list of agents and publishers, right?) of all sizes of publishers that take unagented mss.
Before You Contact Publishers Directly
But it's not just good enough to list a bunch of publishers. Make sure those publishers take your genre (same goes for agents, naturally). Make sure those publishers are actual publishers (unlike PublishAmerica, which is a printer - and a pretty lousy one at that).
If they take and print everything that comes their way - they're a vanity press. Real publishers - big, small, and everything in between - are selective about which books they'll publish. They're not getting any dough from you, so they have to be picky - they want to make money as much as you do! :-)
This is the most important step. Before you send out your Novel of the Ages or your query letter, research publishers and agents. There are plenty of fly-by-nighters, willing to fleece you out of your life savings (or close to it), there are the clueless (who really do want to help writers, but haven't a clue as to how to market, get distribution, etc.), and then there are the legit ones.
Do your homework! If you eventually decide to go the POD technology route, at least do it with your eyes open. Know that your novel will hardly sell any copies, unless you're a complete marketing whiz (few writers are).
So, after the steps Uncle Jim talked about above, do your research by:
1. Getting a list together of all the legit agents and publishers.
2. Making sure they take your genre.
3. Making sure they're not bottom feeders/clueless.
Love and kisses,
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