Your first book has been published and now it’s time for your second. What can you do, as an author, to make sure your publisher is keen to keep working with you? Well, based on my own experience and that of some of my publishing colleagues, here are my top tips.
1. Keep doing everything you can to promote your first book. While sales can be fickle, even if your book isn’t a runaway bestseller, a publisher will still be impressed by an author who continues to be proactive about sales and marketing opportunities long after the initial release frenzy has died down.
2. Don’t bombard your publisher with follow-up proposals and new manuscripts hoping that one will ‘stick’. Make sure that any subsequent proposal is as considered and carefully targeted as the first. Make it your best work, not your ‘it’s not quite there, but if you like it I’ll work on it some more’ story.
3. Don’t be discouraged if your next proposal is rejected. And if it is, don’t be tempted to change yourself to fit some perceived criteria or formula. Hold on to what makes you you and always write from the heart. Authenticity goes a long way in publishing. Take a deep breath, and simply follow up with another quality manuscript.
4. As time passes and you build a relationship with your publisher, it’s likely that you’ll receive more feedback on manuscripts that are rejected. But don’t assume this will happen. Publishers are not manuscript assessment services. We simply don’t have the time to provide detailed reports on why we’re rejecting a manuscript, no matter how much we’d like to.
5. Be supportive of the industry in general. Publishing is a wonderful ‘business’ — at its heart it’s about storytelling, promoting a love of books (in all their forms) and fostering creativity. So promote other authors and books that you love. They don’t necessarily have to be part of your publisher’s stable (although that’s nice!); just get out there and spread the word. If you’re perceived to be an active advocate for the industry, you’re also likely to be perceived as a valued investment for the publisher. But again, be genuine. Don’t do it for what you can gain, but rather for what you can give. Ultimately, a strong, dynamic publishing industry is in everyone’s best interests.