This question comes up a lot! I don’t purport to be an expert on the topic, in fact, I’ve gone around in circles on this one in the last two and a half years. Please note that I’m limiting this discussion to electronic/electronic-trade pubs. I noted two posts yesterday–the demise of Scheherazade Publishing (I hope that those folks find a good home) and the call for submissions at Champagne Publishing. The first was four years running (and happens to be the spot I first submitted to, and was rejected at), the second is fairly young, maybe over a year old now, and seems healthy as far as I can tell. As a new writer (if you are one), how would you have been able to spot the one that would fold?
I chose the image of Rosie the Riveter up there because it reminds me that we women (most of us are women) can be turned from strong independent types to clueless babes in the woods when faced with the daunting prospect of picking a publisher to submit to. “I’m new, and I just want someone to take this book”–which may have already been rejected at EC or some other pub that looks healthy sales-wise. “Who would you suggest?” Surely you’ve gotten that question, fellow Rosie. Your answer may go something like this: “Well, I was at Acme Publishing, but I had a run-in with an editor there. You may like them, however. I was also at Sexy Reads, but they’re only putting their best sellers into print, and I wasn’t in that category. Sales were abysmal. Now I have books at Hunky Heroes, and I like them so far.” Yeah, thanks for the help.
I think what’s missing in the question (variations of which you see all over the loops) “what is your GOAL?” To simply get published? To learn, grow, get better? To get onto the NY Times bestseller list in two years? Or the inevitable “I MUST see my book in print.” Do you want to be a big fish in a tiny pond? Comfortable waiting a year hearing about whether your jewel is accepted?
I wish someone would have said this to me when I started: “Who are you? Is this a hobby? Do you want to make a career of this? How much time can you devote to writing? How long have you been at this? Let me read the book and I’ll answer you after I do.”
Just about anyone can get published now. It’s true! Your romance will likely be accepted by one of many new epublishing houses springing up. They may become the next big place, too! It’s okay to sub to those places, really! Just remember that sales may be blecky, and you may (repeat MAY) not get the kind of editorial guidance you’d like. The alternative is to scout out the publishers with “big” name romance writers (in epubbing). Do these writers stay there? Do their books go to trade, even mass market (if that’s important to you)? Do their writers routinely get good reviews, win awards? Read their books. Try writing to one of them–they may or may not answer. Remember that there are a lot of sagging shoulders, big chips weighing them down. And no matter how big the company, how successful, it can still fold, or change, just like 99% of new businesses do in the first year.
The real question is–what are YOU willing to put into this hobby or career or yours? Ready to pay your dues? I wasn’t, but I’m learning it’s time to face my writing truth. I’ve a lot more to learn, need to get a lot better, and I’m pretty happy where I am right now. That’s a good place to be.