Fiction Book Publishers

by Natalie Tealdi

Through rose-tinted glasses

Now I have to admit, before I worked for fiction book publishers I had a rather romantic view of the industry. I used to think that books were published simply because publishers loved them and thought they should be available for the world to love too.

 I thought book promotions in the shops existed because the bookshops thought they were so great that they should be discounted so members of the public could experience that greatness also. Naive much?! 

Don't get me wrong, publishers are very passionate about what they do and there is a certain element of love that comes into the decision-making process of taking on a manuscript for publication but at the end of the day, publishing is a business that is fuelled by what sells and doesn't sell; what the current trends are; how much money they can put behind a book or series of books and whether or not the editors, sales teams etc think it's worth it. 

In those days, publishers had to pay for their books to be part of 3 for 2 offers and other such promotions! They pay for prominent sales positions in bookshops! Who would've thought?! Perhaps you are all too familiar with this but I still feel sorry for my 20-something self, wearing the rose-tinted glasses. 

The joy of working for children's fiction book publishers

It was my first job after I finished uni and 10 plus years on I still think it was the best place I've worked. I loved being in such a creative place. Seeing the incredible art work for picture books, getting to read real manuscripts, and working with people who really loved what they did and were so passionate about it. I got to attend some amazing events.

Particular highlights for me were organising and attending the Author/Illustrator party at Somerset House. It was an evening of celebration with canapes, music, networking and general merriment. The kind of event that is repeated annually.

Somerset House

Another highlight was attending a book launch for Michael Morpurgo's 'On Angel Wings' which was held just before Christmas at a church in Mayfair. Joanna Lumley read the book and I got to meet the author and Quentin Blake who illustrated the book! That was such an exciting evening. 

Insights into Fiction Book Publishers

So apart from those lovely memories, I'd like to share with you some of the really useful insights I picked up when I worked at Egmont UK.

Of course publishing houses run like other businesses. If they didn't, they wouldn't be around for very long. And so I think it's important for writers to be aware of this. Be smart about it. Get in the game. Put your business head on and think like the publishers think. If you're thinking of beginning to write a novel, research the market. 

Fiction Book Publishers: Trends

What's trending now? Are there new trends emerging? An element of prediction has to come into this. For example, if the market is currently flooded with dinosaur stories, how likely is it that they will still be popular by the time you finish your manuscript?

Trends come and go and it's so important to be aware of this. Research into what films are due to be coming out in 2 or 3 years’ time. Look at upcoming exhibitions. Read up on technology and what gadgets are likely to be the next must-haves. You get the gist. All of this information will help to give you a picture of the future market and then you can begin to decide how you might want your novel to fit in or stand out amongst it.

Research the publishing houses

When it comes to submitting your work to publishers, research them first. What books are currently on their list? Is yours similar? If the publisher is known to produce quirky, zany books, will yours sit comfortably beside them? If not, then it's probably not the publisher for you. You'd be better off saving your time and theirs and finding another publisher who would be a better fit.

Fiction Book Publishers: Who are you writing for?

And my last tip is to know your audience. Who are you writing for? If it's modern day tweens, make sure you're writing for them and not for you and your mates when you were that age. Things change over time: language use, technology, fashion etc. Be very careful about the details you use in your novel. 

I hope this is helpful. Now to pop my once rose-tinted, now green specs back on and use that force of envy for good and get back to my writing!

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