Q: I’ve been working on developing new characters and I’m ready to market them. I’ve written a children’s book and a local publisher has decided to publish my book, but tells me that it would be between 8 and 9 months before I see a hard copy. Should I wait for their publishing process to work (I don’t have a contract yet) or should I move forward with online publishing? I don’t want to burn any local bridges but I was hoping to have this out for the holidays.
A: I think it’s great that you initiated communication with a local publisher. This tells me that you probably initiate communication and are proactive with sales. Certainly, if you don’t have a contract, not even a rough draft, then you are under no obligation. No, you don’t want to burn bridges but let’s put this into perspective. This is really a decision about what you want to do with your business. Not knowing more about the situation, it’s hard to give specific advice, but I can tell you that it’s not unrealistic when they’re telling that it takes 8 to 9 months to publish a book. This is reasonable in the publishing business, and often it’s more like 1 year and 3+ months.
It would be wise to ask yourself: What do you really want? Do you want to have an e-book out for Christmas; or do you want to have a traditional publisher publish a hard copy, even if you have to wait for it?
I think you need to get on the phone with the publisher and ask them a lot more questions to understand what they’re going to do, especially since you don’t have a contract yet. You may speak with them and they tell you: ‘Oh yeah, we said we were interested, but we have other things on our plate right now we are interested, but will need to look at it next Spring to make a final decision.’ This would obviously influence your decision. Here are three areas of questions to ask: 1) timing of the contract and publishing release date 2) avenues of distribution and sales efforts they expect to make and 3) publicity and promotions. If you can’t get a hold of them, I would say that this would be a red flag.
For example, I had a recent publishing deal that I nurtured for nearly 1.5 years. I knew they were really interested and I kept pushing and sending really nice emails that would say something like: “Hey, just to let you know I’m still here and really hoping that you will be getting that contract off to us, we’re ready to go. Any changes in your plan, then just send me an email…” By sending chatty and friendly emails that kept pushing things along, we finally got our contract ‘in the can.’