I found it a bit ironic that one of the books I had the opportunity to read (and of course review) this past month is The Christian Writer's Market Guide 2012. Reviewing books on this blog and Amazon for over the past 3 years has been an interesting experience. In some ways, it has opened my eyes and cut through my cynicism that there are good, solid Christian books being published. In other ways, my cynicism about the publishing industry has grown. In those ways, I have been quite discouraged.
Last January, I attempted to contact several magazines to get more publicity for the great books I come across. I was trying to find out if there might be an opportunity to review for any of these homeschooling magazines. One of the first two magazines said yes and I've had several of my reviews published this year in that online magazine. I thought I'd try my hand and contact a few more. Every single one said "no." I learned that rejection simply isn't easy. Some of the responses surprised me though with their abrupt wording and attitude. For me, reviewing books is very personal. Everything I do is personal actually.
Early in the fall, I came across a wonderful book that an author published independently through one of those self-publishing companies. I had this wild thought that maybe I might be able to connect her to one of the publishers I review for and get her book publicity and a new published edition. I know, totally, a wild, crazy dream. But, still, I dreamed. This book was far better and useful than many of the other homeschooling books I'd read. It was grace filled, helpful, honest, and well written. Upon contacting the publishers I felt the book would fit best, I received the reply from each that they do not accept unsolicited manuscripts and that they could not help me. It was discouraging. Actually, it was very discouraging! I've been reviewing books for these publishers for over 3 years, but those contacts did me no good when I was actually trying to help someone.
When I look back this fall, I can see how that experience has shaped and diminished my desire to review books. I still love to read, but because life has been so crazy busy for me, I stopped squeezing in as much time to read books and review them. I think what discouraged me the most was to realize that a book that really should be read by a lot of families won't be and a lot of the fluff I am offered to read is being published and likely read. After I investigated and listened to one author talk about how she got published, I realized that publishing is really a "who knows who" game. You get published if you know someone. And if you don't... well, then you don't get published in print or on a big website.
So, let's talk about the Christian Writer's Market Guide 2012 that Tyndale has just published. Is it packed with information? Yes. Will it get you published? Cynically, I would say probably not. Is it worth trying? Maybe. The book lists what publishers and periodicals publish what genres of books. It also lists each publisher in detail with statistics about how many submissions they get, whether they are open to submissions, and how many books they actually publish. I looked up the publishers I contacted. Only the information for 1 of the 3 was accurate to what I was told. All 3 told me they do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. In this book, it lists 2 of the publishers as accepting books from authors directly (though they receive an immense amount of submissions). So, is this a book I'd recommend buying? Well, if you're determined to get your book published and have a lot of money to invest in submitting it then, I suppose you can always try. I'm probably not the best person to review this book.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book to review from Tyndale Publishing and obviously the opinions in this review are entirely my own honest, and unfortunately cynical opinions.