Sunday, January 29, 2012

Getting Your Book Published

I am frequently asked how I go about selecting the manuscripts that Moonlight Mesa Associates, Western Book Publisher publishes. Most publishing houses have an acquisitions editor who makes the initial decision on what gets past his/her desk. Who knows where they find these folks. I know for a fact that our authors are far, far better authors than many of the authors that the "big houses" sign. It's a vicious world, the publishing world.

So, how do I chose the manuscripts? What criteria do I have? (Or it is that criterion?) It's always a tough decion, let me be perfectly honest. But there are four items I strongly consider.

First, and most importantly, I must LOVE what the author has written. That's an emphatic LOVE. I'll even consider something I may not LOVE, but that I definitely LIKE. STRONGLY LIKE. Before I look at marketability or anything else, I have to LIKE/LOVE it. If I don't feel strongly, I just won't be able to represent the book well or talk people into buying it.

Second, I try to appraise how marketable the subject is. Do I really believe this book will sell? Is this a niche market book? More than likely the book will appeal to a niche market. We're good with that here. We like niche. I really must feel that the book will sell well without me having to beat myself to death to get it sold. We ask all prospective authors to give us a marketing plan for their books. NO ONE CAN SELL A BOOK AS WELL AS THE AUTHOR! Am I ever wrong in my assessment of a book? Not often, but yes, I have been.

Third, I look at how much money and time I will have to put into this project. We do quite a bit of editing, but if I have to send the book to our editor-in-chief, that gets expensive. In fact, some small publishing houses send the manuscript back to the author and tell him/her to get it edited. If the manuscript is just too much of a mess and going to cost too much and take too much production time, I may reluctantly turn it down.

Fourth, can I get along with the author? Is the author willing to work with us and be a pleasant, nice person? If not, adios. I don't tolerate demanding, yelling, fit-throwing screamers. Period and end of sentence.

So, what are we currently looking for? NONFICTION. Western type nonfiction. In fact, we are most interested in publishing a book about mules...mule training or anything of that ilk. We've even approached two trainers, to no avail. We would strongly consider biographies, historical accounts (Western), all kinds of horse "stuff" etc.

We would also consider something non-western, like a health type publication or a how-to book.

We are NOT looking for cowboy poetry, fiction, cookbooks, children's literature, teen lit., chick lit, erotic lit., gay or lesbian lit., suspense or mystery (unless it's Western in nature).

I can't speak for all publishing houses, only for Moonlight Mesa. Finding a publisher is very, very difficult, and we know that. We try to respond to all queries promptly.


1. Save your time and postage and don't send us something we're not looking for. In fact, don't send us anything until you read our instructions. PLEASE follow the submission guidelines.

2. Send a professionally edited manuscript if you want to leap to the front of the line. We only do a four or five books a year, and we receive a lot of queries. An edited book is hard to resist!

3. Be nice.

4. Be prepared to SELL YOUR BOOK. We can't do it all, and we won't do it all.


Sam's Desert Adventure is now in stock! And Jere D. James' Apache is now available in a LARGE PRINT EDITION.

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