Mar 08 2009

Writing Tip of the Day: Pick Your Publishers Carefully

This should be pretty obvious, but unfortunately it isn’t.  When you submit a novel manuscript or a comic book script, pick your prospective publishers carefully.  Make sure you submit it to publishers that actually work with stories that have a lot in common with your story.

  1. Audience (age and gender)
  2. Genre and content
  3. Style/mood
  4. Setting (real-world Earth vs. historical vs. the future vs. a Tolkien-like fantasy world)
  5. Length, for books (length usually goes hand-in-hand with the age of the audience)
  6. Art style, for comic books (dark and gritty vs. Western cartoons vs. anime/manga, for example)

Prospective publishers love it when authors put some thought into this.  If your query clearly shows that you have looked into which publishers will be the best fit for your book, you will look professional and competent.  A good place to start is looking up 5 or 10 comparable works on Amazon.  Where did they get published?  For comic books, which editors signed on?  That should give you a few publishers to look into.

I’ll use a very particular example to show how easy this is.  For example, right now I’m looking for publishers that would be interested in a guide for how to write superhero novels and comic books.  It’s aimed at teens.  Many publishers have printed books for kids that want to write, so finding apt publishers shouldn’t be a problem.  I’d also like to look at publishers that have printed guides about writing comic books.  

After 30 minutes on Amazon, I found ~10 works that seemed comparable at first glance.  Let’s look at why these works might or might not suggest that their publisher would be interested in mine…

  • So, You Wanna Be a Comic Book Artist?  How To Break Into Comics!  The Ultimate Guide for Kids (Beyond Words).  I really like this one because I can pitch mine as a complementary work.
  • Writers on Comic Scriptwriting (Titans Press).  The purpose is similar, but this is clearly written for a sophisticated and literary adult audience.  Check out the cover.  Unless Titans has also worked on books for younger readers, I should move on.
  • Writing for Comics with Peter David (Impact).  This is written for a very similar audience.
  • Writing for Animation, Comics and Games (Focal Press).  Definitely not for kids, either, but closer in style than “Writers on Comic Scriptwriting.”
  • Kids Write! (Williamson).  This isn’t about comic books specifically, but I don’t think that will be much of a problem.  The audience is younger than mine, though… 7-14 vs. 13-20.
  • Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics (Avatar).  Unlike mine, this is in a comic book format.  The audience is older, too.  This isn’t very comparable. 
  • Webcomics for Teens (Course Technology PTR).  This is explicitly aimed at my target audience, and the content is similar but complementary.  I’ll make sure that Course Technology is interested in books that aren’t related to technology before submitting, but to be honest I don’t think webcomics are all that technical.

If I can find this many books about a topic this specific (how to write comic books), surely you can find many publishers that handle material like yours.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Writing Tip of the Day: Pick Your Publishers Carefully”

  1. Ragged Boyon 08 Mar 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Hmm, I haven’t thought much about who I want to send my work to. Dark Horse seems good, but I’ve noticed it favors fantasy works over sci-fi. I’m thinking about Image, but I’m not sure.

    Any suggestions would be helpful.

  2. B. Macon 09 Mar 2009 at 3:14 am

    I did an article on the top comic book publishers here. Personally, I think that if a publisher has worked with anything remotely similar to what you’re working on, it’s worth looking into submitting. Novelists can be pickier than comic book writers, but there are not all that many comic book publishers.

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