Getting Your Book on the Shelf

09 Dec 2015


It’s the critical question all would-be authors keep asking: How do I get my book published?

Dino Price has been the managing director of John M. Hardy Publishing in Houston for three years, but his background is in business development and marketing strategies. That combination of experiences makes him a very useful resource for up-and-coming authors who are looking for a way to get their book published.

Here a few of his dos and don’ts.

It All Starts with the Perfect Pitch

DO start by having all the details about your project in a complete book pitch for the publisher’s consideration. “People don’t realize all the information that needs to be included when they’re pitching a book to a publisher,” Price said. “Everything begins with exploring the feasibility of publishing the book.”

Price said a great book pitch should encompass all of the details of the book, including:

  • Number of pages
  • Thorough book summary
  • Photography or illustrations
  • Author’s suggested type of paper to be used (this affects costs significantly)
  • Author’s suggested type of binding (hardbound or paperback, also affects cost)

DON’T get carried away with your page count. “A 780-page manuscript is not going to happen,” Price said. “That’s double in book pages. If it’s going to be considered, it has to be cost effective for everyone.” Price said the page number is a huge indicator of a book’s feasibility. “People just don’t have the attention span for long books so that would strongly affect its sales,” he said.

DON’T let a publisher see your manuscript before you’ve had it proofread. “I don’t proofread or edit manuscripts,” Price said. “It should be proofread thoroughly, preferably by more than one person.”

Sell, Sell, Sell

Price said that the content of the book is important — but not necessarily the most important thing. “I judge the marketplace for the book above all,” he said. “I’m not a traditional publisher in that sense. I know about the market for the book more than I know the book itself.”

Dino Price Dino PricePrice remembers learning that lesson by watching the marketing and sales of a book published by Octane Press in Austin, titled Red Tractors. It was a simple coffee table book about red tractors and their owners.

“You wouldn’t think there was a market for a book about red tractors. However, Octane sold it to every feed store, grain elevator, and tractor supply store they could find,” he said. “It sold like crazy. They found a marketplace and sold it. If it had been sitting on a regular bookstore shelf, no one would have noticed it. Who knew?”

DO present a marketing plan along with your book pitch. “Sometimes, authors think they have a ‘niche’ book, but they have a bigger market than they think, as with the red tractor book,” Price explained. “It might be possible to move the book from one market niche to another. The author has to understand who his entire potential audience could be, not just the obvious one.”

DO develop your author’s platform that sells your book to your fan base. “I always ask authors if they already have a social media fan base,” Price said. “Do they give speeches or presentations? Will they organize book signings for themselves? Authors must feel comfortable marketing themselves both on social media and in person.”

DO be wary of some marketing trends. “Be careful of self-publishing services because they can be very poorly done,” Price said. “Regardless, you’ll likely have more success by starting with a good editor, then taking it to a publisher.”

DO help your publisher with marketing and distribution of your book. “I will go the extra mile with authors who are willing to work hard to get the book distributed,” Price said. “I’ll buy ads and pay the author commissions on sales of books through social media. I’ll help them if they’ll help me, but that author has got to understand they are not just part of this process – they are the process.”

DON’T wait till your book is done to launch your website. “If you don’t launch your website till your book is out, you’re already behind,” Price said. Sometimes websites take much longer to launch than expected, and even longer to start attracting traffic. Start early, and start blogging, too.

Publishers’ Pets—And Pet Peeves

Price said that the easier the author makes it to help him publish the book, the better. “Don’t make me work for it,” he said.

DO show that you’ve considered all angles of your pitch and you understand your target market audience. “If you’ve done that, we can get a lot done together,” he said.

DON’T bring a publisher an incomplete pitch.

DO protect your fan base by quickly responding to readers on social media and your website. “It makes all the difference to readers to know you really get them, and you respond to them,” Price said.

DON’T get into publishing because you think you’re going to make money. “Be passionate, but it’s not about fame, it’s about the book,” Price said. “It’s not likely that you’re going to get rich from this book. You have to do this because you love the story you’re telling.”

DO get to know your publisher’s catalog. “I think my number one ‘pet peeve’ is when an author submits a book that does not align with what I publish,” Price said. “Always look at the publisher’s catalog and make sure they publish books in your category before submitting.”

If you have a book you’d like to get published, visit

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