I found this piece on the Salt Publishing blog. I think the advice is very sound, and it applies to other publishers.
How to get published by Salt
We’re often asked, “Salt doesn’t take submissions — so how do I get on to your list?” People join Salt through innumerable routes: agents, recommendations, active commissioning by our busy editors — we put on regular events, we tour campuses — we put ourselves in the way of writers who care about their writing and their readers. But we are still frequently asked why we don’t simply accept blind submissions, the answer is that it tells us nothing about if there is a market for any given writer — we need to know if we can sell you. So, here are our Top Ten Tips for finding your way in to print with Salt.
- Make sure your work is appearing in a wide range of magazines, online and in print. If you haven’t yet had your work printed in magazines, you don’t currently need Salt. If you’re savvy, you might also research the magazines we’re keeping an eye on by checking where our current writers are actually appearing — you can discover this in the acknowledgements pages of our books.
- Take part in readings, festivals and events, especially those involving our existing writers. We’re more likely to notice you if you’re working with our writers, and it’s a good sign for us that you’re actively taking your work out to readers and working with audiences already.
- Review our writers and support their work. It’s hard not to notice people who are paying you some critical attention. Additionally, this will familiarise you with our list and you can see how you might fit in to it. Knowing our list and knowing we’re right for your work will surely make for a convincing discussion if we approach you. We approach new people all the time.
- Invite our writers to your own reading group, writers’ group or regular event, ask them to judge a competition you run or run a workshop or teach a class or give a guest lecture — we can’t fail to notice you if you’re working with us already. If you don’t host an event or run a writers’ group, why not start one — and don’t just work with us, work with all the publishers that interest you. The best way to raise the profile of your own writing is to collaborate with other writers. We’ll notice you if you’re working to develop new readerships for us.
- Get involved in social media and find us and join us on Facebook and Twitter. Read our blog and comment on it. We’d always presume if you wanted us to publish you that you would be very interested in everything we do. If we’ve never heard of you, we’re not going to discover you. Remember, if we can’t see you or hear you, we know for certain that none of our customers will either.
- Build your reputation carefully, deliberately and attend to your work. Taking your writing seriously means that you will be taking your life as a writer seriously, too: we’d expect you to be known among a wide range of writing communities for your dedication, commitment, support, and especially your actual activity in the genre. Make a name for yourself and you’ll create more chances for your writing.
- Become a friend and a fan of our writers. Recommendation means a lot to us, if one of our writers tells us that there’s someone good we might enjoy, we’ll pay attention. Recommendations need to be earned and need to be meaningful. But a recommendation from one of our writers means you’ve worked to make your writing known and have done enough for one of our writers to support you.
- It’s not that your work should be good enough, it’s that, in addition to being quite brilliantly, let’s say astonishingly well-written, it is also capable of being sold. Think about that. Lots of great new writing cannot be sold (which is fine, it just can’t involve Salt). Our job is to find the writers that people want to pay money to read. The best way to judge your own work in this respect, is to read widely and deeply those contemporary books now being printed and sold in bookshops and ask yourself if your work fits. Basically, know your market. If you don’t think there is one, you don’t need Salt.
- Discover who our editors are and support them, be actively interested in them — but don’t stalk them or antagonise them. If our editors are able to notice you it’s possible they will. If you don’t put yourself in the way of our editors, we’ll miss you. This is a hurdle, but if you jump it, we know you’re willing to get yourself and your writing some attention. It goes without saying, that we don’t publish people we can’t get on with — if we’re spending thousands on a writer, we want to make sure we like you. and can work with you. Be a good colleague.
- Buy our books. If you don’t, we might not be here to consider you. If we don’t sell books, we go bust. If you are absolutely certain that we’re the right publisher for you, we’d be absolutely certain you were the right reader for us. Literature is, among other things, an economy, so we need book sales in order to take on new writers. The more books we sell, the bigger our business becomes — and we can commit to publishing more new writers.
Copyright © Chris Hamilton-Emery, 2011
Here’s a link to a document I prepared a few years ago on getting poetry published.