For the new or aspiring author, publishing options can be boggling. The debate isn’t limited to self-publishing versus traditional publishing. If you choose to go the traditional publishing route, you have to decide whether or not you need (or want) an agent and which publishers to target.
I’m far from an expert about the publishing world. However, I found a niche that is (so far) working for me: a small publishing house. Hopefully, my experience will give you some clarity on your own decisions as you face your own labyrinth of options.
How I Decided to Query Small Publishing Houses
I don’t want to imply that I sat down one afternoon and weighed my options. I didn’t. I decided over months. Attending the San Francisco Writers Conference and the NonFiction Writers Conference was also tremendously helpful.
In my opinion, regardless of your publishing route, platform building is an integral part of being a non-fiction author. (Unless you write memoir) However, that wasn’t really the driving force behind the decision.
First decision: Traditional versus Self-publishing
My book’s format played a major role in my decision to pursue traditional publishing. Memories of Me: A Complete Guide to Telling and Sharing the Stories of Your Life combines writing prompts with brainstorming worksheets, writing advice, and sample stories.
Worksheets can work in an e-Book, but they lend themselves to print. In addition, my target audience includes older generations that are less comfortable with eBooks.
Big versus Medium and Small Publishing Houses
Despite my willingness to build my platform, there was also the cold reality that my name is Laura Hedgecock, not William Zinsser. There’s a market for my book, but my books won’t sell themselves based on my name (yet). If there is a theme among the publishing advice guru’s, it’s that name and platform trump writing skills and content. So, score one for the smaller houses.
I also decided that my market was a niche market. Looking through Writer’s Market, the medium and small publishing houses were the ones that best served those niches.
Finding a match
Hobbyists make up the core of my target audience. While I hope that writing about memories has a universal appeal, I believe it has a particular appeal to scrapbookers, genealogists, and aspiring writers. When looking for which publishers to query, I researched their offerings to see had books in the hobby, how-to, writing, and family history. I also tried to envision my book among their production lines.
Cedar Fort, Inc.’s Plain Sight Imprint, was my top choice. Its product lines include hobby, family history and craft books. It has distribution with Mormon outlets and several imprints. Happily, they liked my book.
Before you dismiss the idea of querying smaller houses, look closely to see if these publishers aren’t a good match for your book and its market.
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