Welcome to my Alphabet Book Adventure! This summer on my blog, I’m sharing the step-by-step approach I take to write an alphabet book and inviting you to join in the fun. If this is the first time you’ve ever visited my blog, you can click on this link to start the ABC Adventure from the very first day!
And now…back to our ABC Adventure!
You’ve been researching the market to discover publishers who publish alphabet books. You’ve made a chart to organize your results. Now it’s time to narrow your search.
Choose three publishers from your chart that you’d like to investigate further. Important Note: Always put any publisher who accepts e-mail queries and/or submissions at the top of your list. It can make the difference between landing a contract to write the book or ending up forgotten at the bottom of a slush pile and you never hear back again. Literally. In this day and age, many publishers won’t even return an SASE but say that if you never hear back from them it means they weren’t interested.
First go to the publisher’s website. Print out a list of their ABC books. Then go to amazon.com. Look up every single title of their alphabet books (or if they’ve done tons, just look up their 10-20 most current titles.)
As you work, it’s time to make three more charts to help you organize the tremendous amount of information you’ll be gathering. Make one chart for each of the different publishers you’ve chosen to investigate further. Here are suggested columns to include on your chart and why each nugget of information is important:
Publisher: Write the publisher’s name at the top of the chart
Title of Book: Having all the titles at a glance helps you create a strong working title for your manuscript that fits like a glove
Date of Publication: If this publisher has alphabet books published in the last five years, chances are they will be open to publishing a new alphabet book. If their titles were all published five years ago or even longer, they may not be interested in publishing alphabet book titles any more. Put this publisher at the bottom of your list and choose another one to investigate in its stead.
In Stock: If Amazon lists this title in stock, this means the publisher still has this book in print. This is a great sign for a potential author because we want to work with publishers who support their backlist and keep titles in print. If this title is not in print and was published within the last five years, chances are that this publisher doesn’t support their alphabet book line longterm, but places them quickly onto “out-of-print” status which can mean death to sales and to the life of your book. Believe me. I know. I wrote four picture books for a new publisher one time and they went out of print even before I received my author’s copies. Why? That particular publisher generated a list of new titles every year, but put them out of print to push them out of the way for their new titles the next year. Some publishers do this and you want to avoid that disappointment. So if Amazon lists this title as out-of-stock and you discover that this publishers’ other alphabet books are also out of stock, place this publisher at the bottom of your list and choose another one to investigate instead.
Review: Is the review positive? Negative? Is there no little blurb at all describing the book? If not, this means the publisher doesn’t even bother to provide a basic publicity blurb and therefore might not be interested in helping market your book. You want a publisher who will at least help with basic marketing such a sending promotional blurbs to online bookstores such as Amazon. Again, if this publisher’s alphabet books consistently do not include a promotional blurb on Amazon, place this publisher at the bottom of your list and choose another one to investigate instead.
Series: Note whether the alphabet book is a part of a series or a stand-alone title. If it’s part of a series, is each book in the series written by the same author? If they are, the publisher won’t be interested in having you write another book in that series, but they might be open to having you propose a new alphabet book series of your own. If the titles in the series are each written by a different author, then the publisher will probably be very interested in the possibility of publishing a new title that fits into the existing series.
Search Inside the Book: Some publishers include this feature on Amazon. If it’s offered, take a minute and peek inside the pages of the book. Get a general feel for voice/format/style. Do you notice any patterns among the various alphabet books this publisher publishes? Do you feel this publisher’s ABC books are something you’d like to write? Jot down any notes on your chart that will help you remember, at a glance, thoughts you had about this publisher’s product list of alphabet books.
Copyright: If you can search inside the book, make sure you look at the copyright page. If the copyright is registered in the publisher’s name, it usually means this title was a work-for-hire contract and the author did not get royalties. If the copyright is registered in the author’s name, this usually means that the author received a royalty-based contract.
Add any other columns to list information you find about each specific alphabet book title this publisher publishes. When finished, glance over the publication dates. How many alphabet books did this publisher publish each year in the last five years? If a high amount, you have a better chance with them. Move them to the top of the list.