In which some helpful hints as regards conventional publishing are given

If you're going to try for on-paper publication, you'll need all the help you can get. The single biggest problem you face is that you are not alone; pretty much all publishers (of books, magazines, etc) recieve vast quantities of unsolicited manuscripts in a year. This means that selection -- winnowing out the 'wheat' from the 'chaff' -- is a primary concern for any publisher. As it happens, many publishers focus on certain particular kinds of manuscript. If you submit the wrong kind of manuscript, that publisher will reject your manuscript as soon as they realize what it is, without bothering to finish reading the thing.

This page is intended to give you a clue which publishers are interested in what, the better to help you avoid wasting time on publishers who would never handle your material in a million years.

[top of page] Conventional books
[Magazines] [Self-publishing] [Comic books]
Hardcover and Softcover Books

Here I've assembled a list of publishers, accompanied by what type of material they're most noted for and a few of the authors whose work they carry. Enjoy!

Ace Books Major publisher of science-fiction
Authors include William Gibson, Frank Herbert, Robert A. Heinlein
Arkham House Horror (Lovecraftian in particular)
Authors include Clark Ashton Smith, H.P. Lovecraft, J.G. Ballard, James Blaylock
Baen Books Publisher of quality science-fiction
Authors include David Weber, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, Andre Norton

Ballantine Books

Mainstream fiction, also science-fiction, Star Wars, and 'self help' books
Authors include Margaret Truman, James Blish, Ray Bradbury
DAW Books Major publisher of science-fiction and fantasy
Authors include Mercedes Lackey, C.J. Cherryh, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Tad Williams

Doubleday

Mainstream fiction, also science-fiction
Authors include Margaret Atwood, Peter Straub, Oliver Sacks, Louis L'Amour
Firebird Books 'Young adult' fantasy and science-fiction
Authors include Brian Jacques, Charles de Lint, Lloyd Alexander

Green Integer Books

Literature and poetry
Authors include Andre Breton, Henri Bergson, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde
Grove/Atlantic Mainstream fiction

Houghton-Mifflin

Mostly academic textbooks, but the Trade and Reference division does mainstream fiction & nonfiction
Meisha Merlin Publishing Science-fiction, fantasy, and horror
Authors include George R.R. Martin, Robert Asprin, Andre Norton, Diane Duane

Penguin Group
USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, India

Mainstream & 'young adult' fiction
Authors include Clive Cussler, Robin Cook, Judy Blume, Beatrix Potter

Prime Crime

Murder mysteries
Authors include Agatha Christie, Max Allan Collins
Random House Mainstream fiction, children's books, poetry, science-fiction, etc etc
Authors include Douglas Adams, Robert B. Parker, George Plimpton, Vladmir Nabokov, Ogden Nash, Larry Niven, Carl Sagan, Dr. Seuss
Simon & Schuster Mainstream fiction
Authors include Stephen King, V.C. Andrews, Fern Michaels
Tor Books Science-fiction and fantasy
Authors include Ben Bova, Orson Scott Card, Anne McCaffrey, Rudy Rucker, Norman Spinrad, Jane Yolen

[top of page] [Conventional books]
Magazines [Self-publishing] [Comic books]
Magazines (monthly and otherwise)

One thing about magazines: They always need new material. Whether it's 80-page issues once every three months, or 400-page issues once a month, or what, a magazine must acquire a quantity of material sufficient to fill its pages every issue. For people who want to break in to the writing business, this is good news and bad news. Good, because the incessant need to 'feed the beast' means that magazine publishers are probably more willing to consider stories from new writers than any other outlet for authors; bad, because everybody knows this, and so magazine editors tend to have vast piles of unsolicited manuscripts on their desks...

You'll find lists of magazines here, here, and here. As well, the table immediately below contains some details on a select few magazines...

Amazing Stories Oldest SF magazine around, whose publication history over the past decade or so is somewhat chaotic.
Their submissions guidelines say they want stories with more than a touch of the fantastic (SF, fantasy, superhero, horror, etc); reviews (of movies, games, books, etc); interviews; and so on. Pay US 10¢/word. No poetry, no simultaneous submissions, no previously-published work.
Analog Major science-fiction magazine. It, and many stories published in it, have won quite a few Hugo Awards and Nebula Awards.
According to Analog's submissions guidelines, they want science-fiction stories and science fact articles. Pay on acceptance, about US 6¢ per word (exact rate varies depending on length). No faxed or emailed submissions, no simultaneous submissions.

The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction

What the title says. Another magazine which has both won numerous awards in its own right, and also published many stories which won awards.
F&SF's submissions guidelines say they want fantasy and/or science fiction (such a surprise, eh?). Pay on acceptance, US 6¢ - 9¢ per word. No simultaneous submissions, no electronic submissions, only one story at a time.
Reader's Digest The only submissions Reader's Digest wants are jokes -- but they'll pay you US $100 or $300 apiece, i.e. on the order of US $1 per word.
Saturday Evening Post One of the oldest running magazines in America. Perhaps most famous for its Norman Rockwell-painted covers.
The Post's submissions guidelines say that they publish mostly family-oriented 'how to' (i.e., gardening, pet care, etc) and health/fitness-related articles, and humor. They do publish fiction, just not very often. Pay US $15 for 'Post Scripts' (humor), US $25 - $400 for feature articles. Simultaneous submissions OK.

[top of page] [Conventional books]
[Magazines] Self-publishing [Comic books]
Self-publishing

After receiving a few (dozen?) rejection slips, many a would-be writer has consoled themselves with the thought, "Well, if nobody else wants my stuff, I guess I'll just have to publish it myself!" The good news: There are plenty of publishers who are more than willing to take your money in return for printing up however-many copies of your magnum opus. The bad news: This segment of the publishing business is known as the 'vanity press', and historically, it has neither deserved nor enjoyed a good reputation. The thrill of seeing 5,000 copies of your book delivered to your front door wears off just as soon as you realize that you have 5,000 copies of your book at your front door, and what in God's name are you going to do with the damn things?

Old-style vanity presses are still around, but the computer revolution has added a new wrinkle: Print-on-demand, which can happily accomodate print runs far too small to justify the expense of firing up a conventional printing press. And since a print-on-demand publisher only prints copies when there is an actual demand for them, the modern vanity press has the potential to be far easier on a would-be author's wallet than is the old-style version. Even better, print-on-demand publishers can typically offer connections to the existing mass-market distribution system!

AuthorHouse In addition to simple book-printing, AuthorHouse offers a wide range of services, from proofreading to copy-editing to publicity to copyright registration -- all of which you must pay for. For $698, you get the basic AuthorHouse package: Color cover (which they design), B/W interior, an International Standard Book Number, and they register your book with various distributors. Depending on exactly which extra services you take advantage of, you could easily end up spending well over $15,000.
iUniverse Four "publishing packages", all of which include ISBN + barcode; formatting for trade paperback and eBook; inclusion in iUniverse's online bookstore; and "one-on-one author support". The $299 Fast Track package is bare-bones "quick and dirty"; Select ($459), Premiere ($699), and Premiere Plus ($799) include optional services such as copy-editing (1.5¢ per word, proofreading (.9¢/word), research ($60/hr), indexing (1.5¢/word), etc. Author gets 1-10 free copies of his book (varies with package), and can buy more at a quantity-dependent discount off of retail price (20% for 1-9 copies, up to 65% for 2000+ copies).
LightningSource These guys are pretty up-front about their focus on printing and distribution; if you need help with other aspects of publishing (publicity, copy-editing, etc), they may not be what you're looking for. The Lightning Links page of their website has pointers to a number of organizations which might be helpful in areas where LightningSource is not.
Lulu If all you want is for your book to be printed and listed with Amazon.com, Lulu does that for no money down -- you set your royalty, over and above the base cost of printing your book, and Lulu makes its profit by taking a 20% cut of that royalty. In addition, Lulu offers some services that you must pay for; $39.95 for an ISBN code, $169.95 for a cover design, etc. They have pointers to other (non-Lulu) service providers that you'll have to pay for. Lulu.com is the home of an active online community whose members can offer advice and comments.
Tate Publishing Tate Publishing is something of an oddity. They're a Christian firm, but they can and do publish secular works; they demand that an author pony up $3,895.50 per book right at the start, but they refund every penny of that amount if the book sells at least 5,000 copies; as well, they're somewhere in between a conventional publisher (in that they're a 'full service' operation which reserves the right to reject any manuscript) and a 'vanity press' (in that they expect authors to pay them some money). In return for that up-front investment, an author gets a custom cover design, full editing and page layout, ISBN registration, 15% royalty, nationwide distribution (through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc), 25 free copies of the book (after the 25th copy, the author can buy more for 40% of retail) and a variety of other benefits. The author retains all rights.

[top of page] [Conventional books]
[Magazines] [Self-publishing] Comic books
Comic Books

In America, unlike the rest of the world, the term 'comic book' is pretty much synonymous with 'superhero'. This is because the US comic book industry is overwhelmingly dominated by two publishers who specialize in the superhero genre. This 'monoculture' is not a feature of other nations' comic book industries; in Japan, for instance, comics cover an incredibly wide range of genres and topics, from fluffy kids' adventure stories to scholarly examinations of economics, and then some. Fortunately for the future health of the US medium (not to mention the employment possibilities of would-be writers), the Big Two do not constitute the entirety of American comics. Here, and here too, are lists of publishers, a few of which I'm going to give you the submissions policies of.

Antarctic Press

Antarctic Press specializes in tales involving anthropomorphized animals, i.e. 'furry' stories. Their submissions guidelines note that they won't read entire scripts. If you want to send them an unsolicited submission, make it a compact synopsis of your story.
Dark Horse Comics While many Dark Horse comics are based on licensed properties -- Star Wars, Aliens, Predator, and so on -- they do publish wholly original material, as well. What they want from you is a signed submissions agreement, a synopsis, and either the full script (if it's a one-shot or short story) or the first eight pages of script (if it's a continuing series). See Dark Horse's submissions guidelines for further details.
DC Comics One of the Big Two, DC is the four-color home of Superman, Batman and the Justice League. In addition, DC publishes a variety of material under the Wildstorm ('grim and gritty' superheroes), Vertigo (literate fantasy and science-fiction), and Pirahna Press (quirky stuff) imprints. DC does not accept unsolicited manuscripts. You must meet DC reps at a comics convention, show them your stuff, and if they like it, they'll invite you to submit something.
Fantagraphics Books Fantagraphics Books publishes 'artsy' and 'literary' comics, and their Eros Comix imprint is devoted to smut. According to Fantagraphics' submissions guidelines, they won't look at writing-only submissions; you need to either (a) be an artist as well as a writer, or (b) work with an artist.
Marvel Comics One of the Big Two, Marvel is the four-color home of Spider-Man and the X-Men. Marvel's submissions guidelines require you to send them a letter of inquiry first. If they like what they read, they'll invite you to submit something for real.

Oni Press

Oni Press publishes the hysterically funny Adventures of Barry Ween, among other titles. They destroy unsolicited manuscripts unread. Meet Oni representatives at a comics convention and show them your stuff. If they like it, they'll invite you to submit something.


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