Deciding on which publisher is going to work best for me depends on several factors, some of which are totally out of my control. But, if I were to be able to work with a mythical dream publisher to go along with my mythical dream agent, well heck, that’s two dreams in one.
First, the publisher would have to pay an advance. Now, I’m realistic about this point, I wouldn’t expect a six digit advance from a little local house. But, I would want to be compensated fairly for my time. Since I’m open to submissions of short stories in anthologies as well as my thesis novel, I’d be okay with being paid in proportion. Seventy-five or a hundred bucks for a short story from a first time author in an anthology? Sounds fair to me because that step allows for a relationship beginning.
Second, I think I’d like a publishing house that I feel I can count on to put in a little bit of marketing effort for me. Many do, as I’ve found, but some are more personalized and spend more time on their authors. A very large house won’t expend huge amounts of resources for marketing on every author they bring in, there’s just too many. It wouldn’t be a finically feasible. What if the book investment flops? But a slightly smaller one, or one that’s specifically geared towards my genre, might be more willing to invest extra time and resources, not just the basic amount that everyone gets.
I think, too, that a smaller houses editors may be more involved. A huge place has lots and lots of people, yes, but they also have lots to handle in a day. A huge corporation has so much going on, I feel like it’s possible to get lost unless everything is pristine and perfect. One or two bumps in the road and suddenly the work isn’t as interesting or as worthy of their time and money as it used to be. From a business standpoint, maybe time to stop investing in that project and move on to another one. Understandable. A smaller house has made an investment that seems larger to them because, well, they’re smaller. The same amount of advance could be worth more to them and thus they’d devote more of their time and effort into making sure that they receive a larger return on their investment. Follows that the editors would be more likely to invest as much of their time as needed, and maybe more, in order to ensure that the book is a success.
In looking at different publishers, I found four that peaked my interest. Two require an agent in order to submit and two do not. It seems prudent to consider both options since my novel is not represented and there’s no guarantee that it will be in the future.
Orbit is an imprint of Hachette Book Group that is specifically Science Fiction and Fantasy geared. I love that about them. They do not accept unsolicited work, but in their submission area they give a bunch of information, “Many literary agencies can be located in Bowker’s Literary Market Place (commonly known as the “LMP”), an annual reference publication which can be found in most major libraries. These literary agencies, in turn, have guidelines for submitting manuscripts. You can find out more about the LMP at Literary Market Place. Yen Press is interested in a broad spectrum of material and will happily review unsolicited graphic novel submissions. Please visit their website to learn more: YenPress.com” (Hachette Book Group) which I found fantastic. When I checked out Yen Press I found it isn’t for me because it’s mostly graphic novels. But the fact that Orbit provided alternate information wowed me. That’s a step above and beyond.
Simon and Schuster also doesn’t accept unsolicited work, but provides extra information in their submissions area “should you wish to pursue self-publishing your work, we invite you to explore the services offered by Archway Publishing, from Simon & Schuster.” (Simon and Schuster). So, they don’t accept unsolicited stories, but do offer a self-publication service. That’s pretty cool of them. I liked this publisher because they do both anthologies and full novels which gives more of a chance to get in one way or the other. They also have a long list of very famous authors associated with them which is a way to up my legitimacy, by standing next to a pro.
Sunbury Press, specifically their sub-house Hellbender Books, does accept unsolicited work as well as simultaneous submissions. Hellbender Books is the Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction branch. I love, absolutely adore, this house. Their site is up front and honest and for me they are local. Their office is less than an hour away. They are very interested in local authors and involved in the communities near my home. I think this is the best chance I have of finding publication if I do not end up with an agent. The downfall is that it would be unlikely for me to receive a large advance on my work.
Balance of Seven does unsolicited and simultaneous submissions. I am already associated with this group through Creative Central, a Facebook group. I like this house not only because I’ve already interacted with the authors and editors, but because they focus on female and LGBTQ+ authors and issues. That’s very important to me and a major theme in my work. They focus mostly on anthologies and would probably be a wonderful place to start submitting short work, but I’m not sure how much they print as far as full novels by a single author. It’s more like a group effort, which isn’t bad in any way, but also isn’t exactly what I would need for my thesis.
Working with a publisher instead of self-publishing has a couple of distinct advantages. For one, you’ve got help with marketing and editing. Two, there’s a chance for wider distribution. Three, there’s a chance for recognition beside very famous authors that may contribute to a boost in career through association. There are disadvantages, too. First, for many, you have to have an agent. The processes of finding someone to work with could take forever and be enough to halt publication. Second, your work has to be accepted. Again a lengthy processes that might never happen. If you decide to go with a house that accepts unsolicited work, you’re automatically in a pile with other authors who have an equal chance to you in being accepted. What if you get lost with no one to champion your work? It’s happened to probably thousands of wonderful stories.
Orbit would be my house of choice were I to have an agent, but since at this writing I do not, I’m going to go with Hellbender Books. As I stated, I’m unlikely to receive a very large advance but I believe it would be fair. I also believe that I would have a pretty good chance of getting in since I’m local to them. Also, I’m very drawn to what they’ve done for the communities and how they contribute to the arts and literature of the area. That’s a worthy trade for me, just like buying local produce or crafts. You might pay a little more, but they money is going directly to people in your community. In this case, they may pay a little less, but the money that they don’t provide up-front helps others close by achieve their dreams.
~ Sarah Ockershausen Delp
Hachette Book Group. “Hachette Book Group – FAQ Manuscript Submissions and Unsolicated Queries.” 2019. Hachette Book Group – Orbit. Web. <https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/about/faqs/>.
Simon and Schuster. “Simon and Schuster – FAQ, Manuscript Submissions.” 2019. Simon and Schuster. Web. <https://www.simonandschuster.biz/c/biz-manuscript-submissions>.