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Weeding through Publishers with a Fine-Edged Machete

In a previous post, I submitted a link to a list of publishers at It's a great resource that seems to be kept up to date. You can also narrow down the list by searching genre, which I did.

The returned list of approx. 35 fantasy publishers included companies from the UK, Canada and the US. Almost all were active, and were accepting submissions. Awesome stuff. So, the next step was for me to match myself to the perfect publisher for my book.

Clicking the links took me directly to the submissions page, which is very convenient. This page always provides all of the important details for authors on word count, formatting, submission requirements etc. However, I quickly learned that I needed to look at the publisher's entire site in detail for a number of reasons listed below:

Book Covers

  • cheap looking novel covers (cartoonish)
  • out-dated looking novel covers (1950/60 style)
  • novel covers with poor layout design (basics of design elements no evident)
  • female protagonists displayed sexually (4 out of 5 novels and fifth female was 1/2 size of male, slung unconscious and helpless in his arms)
Books Published

  • minimal number of published books (even less in fantasy category)
  • books not available on
  • books formatted in publisher's version of an ereader (limiting)
  • books with almost no reviews on or Goodreads (easy for a publisher to do)
  • books with poor coverage in media (see news page of site)
  • books not compatible with my novel (I really, really wanted to submit to Arthur Levine (publisher of Harry Potter), however "The Precious Quest" is not a good match with what Levine publishes.
Rights and Royalties
  • 30% of ebooks? Not enough to sign away all rights.
  • 50% of ebooks? Better, but still want print too.
  • 15% of print? I don't think so! Consider this. If the publisher sells 1000 books, I will earn $150. If I self publish at Mill City Press, they take 0% royalty once I pay set-up and printing costs which work out to approx $4 per book. If I sell my books for $14, I get $10 per book, which means I would only have to sell 15 books to get the same $ as the publisher who offers 15%. If I put my book on Amazon, I'd have to pay trade discounts of 30-55%, but even then, I would only have to sell 30 books to make $150. Read more about royalty calculations here
Publisher Experience
  • Many, many new publishers
  • Many publishers half my age (I sound like my mother)
  • Many publishers with little experience in publishing
  • Many publishers with a lot of traditional publishing experience but no knowledge or acceptance of social media, the 21st century ... etc.
Sad to say. Not one of the 35 publishers matched up to me or my novel manuscript. Now what? Back to google searches. And next? I need to go find a discussion group that is talking about publishers. This is just too complicated to do alone.

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