Getting published

Question #9
How did you find your publisher?
It took a lot of trial and error, sending off inquiry letters and portions of my manuscript to many places, receiving many rejection letters, before landing a contract with Great Plains Publications.

I began my search by calling the publishers listed in the Winnipeg phone book. Actually, the first publisher I called was Great Plains, but at that time they were not publishing fiction. The late Carmen Diaz, editor of Turnstone Press, was interested in my manuscript. She read it and said she really liked it, but unfortunately at the time, they were not doing teen fiction. She did, however, send it to a friend who taught Children’s Literature at the University of Manitoba, who gave me some great advice about what to do to make it more palatable for publishers of teen fiction. Firstly, I should shorten it to under 250 pages and, secondly, I should make sure, if I was to split the novel in two, that there was a satisfying ending to the first part (I shouldn’t strand her in the past) and that the beginning of the second part made sense to the reader. I was very thankful for that personal advice, but that rarely happens with the bigger publishers.

I later left my manuscripts for both Withershins and Spirit Quest with Pemmican Publications, who was mainly interested in the books because my character was portrayed as Métis. However, they kept it ‘on ice’ for five years! Since they are funded to promote Métis authors, they never received a grant to cover the publication costs to do my books. They encouraged me to seek out other publishers, which I did.

When no other local publishers were interested in my manuscripts, I began looking up companies in the Writer’s Markets books, which are produced every year and include all the publishers available in North American, Britain & Australia. The books are divided into genre categories and provide information about where to send your manuscript to within a specific company and who to address it to, whether they accept manuscripts without a literary agent, even whether they are accepting manuscripts at all. That was before the internet had developed into the vast empire it is today. I sent my manuscript to as many Canadian companies that were publishing books similar to mine as I could and each time I received a polite rejection letter, mostly telling me, ‘it isn’t what we are looking for at this time.’

Finally, as I read through the Markets section of the newsletter for the Manitoba Writer’s Guild, I noticed a call for teen fiction issued by none other than Great Plains Publications! I submitted an inquiry letter, a synopsis of Withershins, and the first three chapters. I also included ideas for future stories related to the first. After reading through all that, they then asked me to drop off the entire manuscript. About six months later, they told me they were interested and assigned me an editor to help me prepare the manuscript for printing – and the rest is history, as they say.