As a Reader, What Would You Like to Ask a Publisher?

My interview blog Pat Bertram Introduces . . . is really taking off. I post author interviews and character interviews, and someone suggested I post publisher interviews, too. Sounds like an interesting idea, especially since I’d like to do more to support small independent royalty-paying presses that publish books by a variety of authors. (Like Second Wind Publishing, the company that publishes my books.)

Before I can do the interviews, I have to compile a list of questions such as my author questionnaire or my character questionnaire. Some of the author questions might be applicable, but I’m more interested in getting behind the scenes of the publishing companies to help readers learn more about small presses. And I don’t want to ask writer-oriented questions such as submission policies and what royalties they pay because I’m trying to steer readers their way.

So, as a reader, what would you like to ask a publisher? What genres they publish, of course, and the criteria they use to choose the books they decide to publish. How they decided to become a publisher might be a good question. What else?

[If you are a publisher who would like to be interviewed, please leave your name as a comment/reply. If you are an author who would like to do an interview for me or have your character do an interview with me, please go to either the  author questionnaire or character questionnaire (or both!) and follow the directions.]

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3 Responses to “As a Reader, What Would You Like to Ask a Publisher?”

  1. Cathy "Elaine Garverick" Gingrich Says:

    At first, I thought “What a great idea?” As an avid reader I don’t believe I’ve ever thought about asking the publisher a question. The dynamics of publishing has changed so much in the last few (10?) years. The big publishing houses seemed to have turned a deaf ear to new talent, and I think their “don’t fix what isn’t broken” style will keep them in a literary rut of their own making.
    So, my question is, if you are a brave publisher who dares to take chances on unknown writers, what are your major considerations (besides the quality of writing, of course) in considering the work from an unpublished author?

  2. Ken Coffman Says:

    I’ve often thought a person will never fully understand a situation until they’ve been on both sides. You’ll never completely grok the relationship between parent and child until you’ve been a child and then raised one. There should be a Medal of Honor for surviving your child’s teenage years, but I digress. You’ll never grasp the true dynamics of the writer/publisher relationship until you’ve been on both sides. I have a stack of rejection letters an inch thick and now I am rejecting 99.9% of the inquiries that come my way. Rejecting is not the right word, that’s too strong…perhaps “I decide not to engage” would be better said.
    I am interested in two types of books: ones I think I can honorably sell and ones that fill me with literary joy. I’m a fan of great writing (or writing that is great via my twisted taste). Try putting yourself in the shoes of the publisher. Why should they invest in your book and your career? And don’t take a “decision not to engage” personally. There are lots of reasons a publisher will pass on your project and it’s not a terminal judgment about your life and your work. If there was a POB where I could send a large percentage of my net worth and get back some luck and the rare opportunity to be in the right place at the right time…hell, just give me the address. I’m on it.
    Just one man’s opinion…

  3. Cathy "Elaine Garverick" Gingrich Says:

    Thank you, Mr. Coffman, for your straightforward response. I, on the other hand, was not so reliable, as I did not stick to the stated format, which was “as a reader”. Thank you for ignoring my lapse of good manners, and for answering the question nearest to my heart, “Why won’t someone published my book?” As an unpublished writer, I have long suspected (I admit, much for the sake of my ego) that luck has a lot more to do with getting published than most authors or publishers will admit. That premise is scary, too. That means that the fate of my work, that cherished and polished idea that I’ve striven to present to readers, is as tenuous as pixie dust. Still, it’s more predictable than rearing three of my own Darque Princesses has proven to be.


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