Best Advice from Leading Publisher Penguin Putnam: Part 1
Penguin Putnam, one of the largest publishers in the world with more national best-selling books than anyone in the business, repeatedly publishes titles that top many of the bestseller lists in a variety of categories. Fresh Impact PR Group has had the privilege and pleasure of working with Penguin on projects and asked friend, colleague, and scout for Penguin, William Bauers, to provide our blog readers with a first-hand pulse on what some of the largest publishers are trending towards. Here’s what he had to say:
Fresh Impact PR Group: An author has a book idea, what should they do first? Write the book? Hire an agent? Submit a book proposal?
William Bauers: Research is a good place to start. Survey the market. Review the best seller lists. What are the trends? Has your idea been written about by someone else? Is there a need for more books on your subject of interest? If you don’t know, find out! Amazon.com is a tremendous search tool, as is Google. If you’re writing on a familiar subject, is your take fresh or unique in some way? How? From the very beginning, be thinking about how saleable your idea is and, if you had thirty seconds to pitch it to an editor, what you’d say to wet the editor’s appetite. And don’t discount your gut instinct or your calling. Some books just have to be written regardless of what the market says and in spite of popular trends.
Fresh Impact PR Group: How can a first-time author get published?
William Bauers: Agents are helpful. Publishing, like any business, is about relationships, and good Agents have them. But, more importantly to my thinking is the writing itself. Agents look for excellent projects to represent, and publishers look for outstanding books to publish. The competition is plentiful and fierce. Decide to write an excellent book. Seriously! This may seem self-evident, but no matter how you look at it, writing is just plain hard. And good writing comes even harder. It takes time, some of which will be fruitful, some of which will be frustrating, as well as a lot of editing and cutting and vetting by trusted and knowledgeable friends and advisors. Decide to write something superb, and be sure you care deeply about your subject too. Your passion will raise the quality of your prose a notch. As for finding an agent, the Writer’s Market Guide is a good place to start.
Fresh Impact PR Group: As a scout for Penguin, what do you look for in an author?
William Bauers: I scout for a number of outstanding editors and publishers at Penguin. As a scout, when I find a project I like, a project I believe has potential for Penguin, I shop the proposal internally to one or more imprints and editors. In some ways, I act like an agent, though I actually work for and get paid by Penguin. I have to find a partner – someone that shares my enthusiasm – before buying a project. Penguin is a family of imprints, and many of our family members are genre specialists. All of Penguin’s imprints look for authors with something unique and meaningful to say, and messages – from thrillers to historical fiction, memoir to self-help – that people need and want to read about. And, we always appreciate authors that welcome and respond to feedback.
Part 2 will be posted on Thursday. We look forward to your comments and questions.