Essential Resources for Finding a Book Publisher

There are tons of resources available for publishing a book. In fact, there are so many, what’s harder than finding resources is limiting them to the best ones. This has been true for at least ten years, and it is a big part of why I wrote my book, Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro. Writers are overwhelmed with the possibilities.

In this post, I have highlighted the essential resources you need to get started. If you are new to publishing, these books and websites will keep you focused without the tsunami effect: so much information you drown.

Jane Friedman has some very valuable posts on her website on topics from finding an agent, to preparing a proposal, to marketing. She is an recognized leader in the industry and a star at breaking down complex information into understandable pieces.

My book Perfect Bound offers a concise overview of the publishing process and includes some of the biggest mistakes that new authors make. It’s available through the Montgomery County library.

Another book, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, by Eckstut and Sterry, is also very helpful for new authors. It gives a broader view, with less info about how a book actually goes from manuscript to bound book and more about how books are acquired.

There are different kinds of publishers, and how you land them depends on their size. The biggest ones — HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, Simon and Schuster — and their imprints, will require an agent. Small to mid-size publishers don’t require an agent. 

The most popular sources for finding agents are QueryTracker, Publishers Marketplace, Duotrope, and MS Wishlist.

If you don’t want to work with an agent, you can look at smaller presses. Authors Publish has prepared this list of publishers who don’t require an agent:

Finding a publisher takes a lot of legwork, but it can be very rewarding. And having your book out in the world is an amazing experience. Use these key resources to achieve your dream of publication.

Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!


Two POP clients earn media coverage!

Congratulations to Thomas Caulfield, author of Ephphatha: Growing Up Profoundly Deaf but Not Dumb in the Hearing World, a basketball memoir that is about much more than basketball.

Ephphatha cover

This is a beautiful story about a father and his son who overcame many obstacles to find success both on the basketball court and in the classroom. I’m proud to have served as the developmental editor on this project. Read about it here:

14 Best New Basketball Player Books to Read in 2019 (The Book Authority)


and here:

Interesting Reads: Ephphatha by Dr. Thomas Caulfield (Living with Hearing Loss)

Also in the news was Building a Business with a Beat, a business self-help book written by the inimitable founder of Jazzercise, Judi Missett.

Judi Missett cover

I copyedited this book for McGraw-Hill at the start of the year and enjoyed it immensely. Read about it in The Atlantic:

The Fitness Craze that Changed the Way Women Exercise

It takes a great many people to publish each and every book. Seeing those books get the attention they deserve is a reward for all who participate in the publishing journey.

Kudos, Tom and Judi!


PerfectBound front cover 2019 9-6 low-res


Like this blog? Find more insights and advice in the Updated and Revised Edition of Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, now available on Amazon!

Gold! Foreword Reviews Announces 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Winners

June 26 was a good day at Hop On Publishing and its parent company POP Editorial Services. That’s when we learned that Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro had taken the gold in the Writing category in the 2014 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards.

Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards

Four excellent guides had made it to the final round, and Perfect Bound won top honors. In addition to the silver award from the Independent Book Publishers Association’s Benjamin Franklin Awards, this recognition from librarians and booksellers across the country has been astounding.

I have to admit, I never thought we would win. Chris Pickett was the force behind selecting and entering the competitions. “I always knew we would win,” Chris said. “I had complete confidence in the book and I thought it stacked up well against the competition.”

With each success for Perfect Bound, we are reminded that we did not do this alone. Heartfelt thanks go to the 11 publishing professionals featured in the book for their generosity in sharing valuable insights. And a warm thank you to Susan Moore (copyeditor), Sue Hartmann (designer), and Sharon Honaker (proofreader) for their work to make ours an award-winning book.

Perfect BoundLike this blog? Find more advice and insights in the award-winning book Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing,, Barnes and Noble, Left Bank Books, and other fine retailers

IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards Silver Award Winner!

Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro has been named a Silver award winner in the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards!

April 10, 2015, I traveled to Austin, TX, to attend the awards ceremony, and it was a terrific experience. My friend, colleague, and contributor to Perfect Bound, Kathy Clayton, was my guest for the evening.

Katherine Pickett and Kathy Clayton at the IBPA awards ceremony
Katherine Pickett and Kathy Clayton at the IBPA awards ceremony

Our table of ten was filled with finalists and industry notables. Having chosen our table at random, we were thrilled to be seated with three other finalists. Also at the table were Sonia Marsh, who heads the popular Facebook group Gutsy Indie Publishers, and Brian Jud, executive director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS; formerly SPAN).

Two of the finalists at the table won Gold Awards. Rita Gardner won for her memoir, The Coconut Latitudes, and Shea Henderson won in the crafts and hobbies category for her book School of Sewing. We all joined the fun.

Rita Gardner wins Gold
Rita Gardner wins Gold

Perfect Bound took Silver in the reference category. Although it would have been nice to win the Gold, the book has done well. Over the past two days both the print edition and the ebook have landed on Amazon bestseller lists, and for several hours yesterday the print edition was on two bestseller lists concurrently.

Perfect Bound hit two bestseller lists April 14, 2015
Perfect Bound hit two bestseller lists April 14, 2015

The ebook hit the bestseller list April 15
The ebook hit the bestseller list April 15, 2015

It is constant conversation among writers as to whether these awards competitions are a good investment. Some can be quite expensive. The strategy at Hop On was to choose two awards where we valued the opinion of the awarding body and where we thought our book would fit — and possibly win.  For us, it has been a terrific experience and a whole lot of fun. Besides being recognized by an industry-leading organization, we are also reaching more readers, and that is what the publishing adventure is all about!


PerfectBound by Katherine PickettLike this blog? Find more insights and advice in Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing,, Barnes and Noble, Left Bank Books, and other fine retailers

The Votes Are In! Perfect Bound Is a Finalist in Two Awards Competitions!

Great news, everyone! Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro has been named a finalist in not one but TWO contests!

Foreword Reviews' INDIEFAB Book of the Year AwardsThursday, March 12, at 4 p.m., Foreword Reviews announced the finalists for its 2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards and Perfect Bound made the list. We are one of four finalists in the Writing category. You can see our listing and read more about the contest here:

Not two hours later, the Independent Book Publishers Association announced the finalists for its competition, the 2015 Benjamin Franklin Awards. Once again, Perfect Bound made the cut, this time in the Reference category. Read more about this contest and view our competition here:

To add to the fun, a book I copyedited last year is also a finalist in the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards. Studying Wisconsin: The Life of Increase Lapham, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, is one of three finalists in the Regional category (

We will have to wait until the end of June to learn our final standing in the INDIEFAB Awards. However, I will be in Austin, Texas, for the IBPA awards ceremony April 10 to learn whether Perfect Bound was awarded a Silver or Gold Medal.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to the book, whether with interviews or reviewing early drafts of the manuscript or editing and design.

As you can imagine, we are absolutely thrilled at this good fortune. We have always been proud of Perfect Bound, but with so many other books published each year, it is an honor and a joy to be recognized. Now let’s hope we can turn that “Finalist” status into Gold Medal Winner!

Like this blog? Find more advice and insights in Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing,, Barnes and Noble, Left Bank Books, and other fine retailers

Defining Success: My Interview on Today’s Leading Women

In October I was interviewed by Marie Grace Berg of Today’s Leading Women. The interview went live last week, and you can listen to it here:

In preparing for the interview, I was thankful I received advance notice of what we would discuss, as it gave me a chance to consider (1) what my top three tips are for those looking to start a business, (2) what new resources I would recommend, and (3) how I balance work, family, friends, and health,* among other questions.

One of the hardest questions for me to answer was, Who is your hero? I don’t follow superheros nor am I enamored with Oprah or other television personalities, so I had to turn elsewhere for a role model. I finally settled on one of the leaders in the publishing industry, someone who has helped me personally and who models the mentor spirit that I strive for. (Listen to the podcast to find out which one.)

Today's Leading Women

One of my favorite questions was, How do you define success? That one really got me thinking. I consider myself successful, but by what standards?

Success in business generally implies financial success, and that is definitely part of it. It took six months for POP to become solvent back in 2007, meaning I lived off the proceeds of my company exclusively at that time. That was a huge achievement, and I reached it faster than many new companies. It’s definitely a point of pride.

But that’s just one hurdle. The next level of success meant being able to work on projects of my choosing. I built a client base over the first several years of the company, and now I have enough job offers that I do not have to accept every project that comes along.

But again, that is not the pinnacle of success for me. As of 2015, I have consistent work that enables me to take much more control of my schedule, and that, to me, is the true sign of a success.

What does control of my schedule mean? It means more time for family, friends, and health. It means being able to even consider training for a century ride (100 miles on a bike in one day). It means being able to read more books for pleasure, promote my own book, and spend time with my husband and daughter on weekends. It means so much more than just paying bills and meeting financial goals.

Now, I suppose the day I am able to say I have complete control of my schedule will be the day I really know I have made it, but I do suspect that will only come when I retire. There will always be a deadline to meet and a client to please. But being able to choose those clients, and being able to work within standard business hours, has meant a significant increase in my happiness quotient.

* For the record, I can’t rightly claim to balance work, family, friends, and health. I work a disproportionate amount, and my health suffers because of it. But I try. Boundaries, I have learned, are the key. With a toddler under foot, that lesson becomes more obvious every day.


Like this blog? Find more advice and insights in  Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, available through Hop On Publishing,, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Left Bank Books, and other retailers.


Is Money the New Gatekeeper?

In publishing, the gatekeeper is the person who keeps your book idea from becoming a reality. Traditionally that has been the publishing houses and the agents who say “No, thank you” to your proposal. But self-publishing has eliminated those forces. Authors can circumvent the whole agent-publishing house system and put out their own book, in a matter of hours if they so choose, and no one can stop them.

To create a book that people will actually purchase, however, you need to do more than just publish your first draft. You need a professional editor and a professional designer (the designer so people will open your book, the editor so they will continue to read it). And those things cost money. So I ask you, Is money the new gatekeeper?

I posed this question to some colleagues online and the response from some was that quality is and always has been the only gatekeeper. Having read some of the awful books that have been published, both traditionally and independently, and having read some of the terrific books that may never be published, I can’t say I agree. Quality, while not irrelevant, is only part of the issue. How will you achieve quality? All on your own? Not so for most of us.

Curiously, money has become a barrier for those looking for a traditional publisher as well. Particularly with fiction writers, who are expected to approach agents with a completed manuscript, the new expectation is that authors will turn in manuscripts that are publication ready. In fact, one agent I know said while she used to accept a manuscript if it was 99% ready, she now only accepts those that are 100% ready. That was demoralizing to me, and I don’t even write fiction. And for nonfiction writers? Even these authors, who often have their book ideas accepted before the writing is complete, may be asked to pay for editing before submitting the final manuscript to the publisher. If they don’t, the house is fully prepared to end the deal.

I have explained before why editing costs so much, and I would not argue that editors or designers should charge less than they are worth. But if you believe as I believe that everyone needs an editor (that is my company motto, by the way), you have to admit that money plays a significant role in whose books get read and whose don’t, whose books get published and whose don’t. In the past that investment came from the publishing house. Now more often than not it is laid at the foot of the author.

Like this blog? Look for Perfect Bound: How to Navigate the Book Publishing Process Like a Pro, coming Fall 2014.

Self-Publishing: How Much Will It Cost?

If you’re planning to self-publish a book, you need a budget. Without one, your project will stall as you realize this great, easy thing everyone keeps talking about actually takes some money. How much could it possibly cost? Well, $5,000-$7,500, in fact. For some, it could be much more.

You will soon discover the biggest expense you incur is the time you spend writing and marketing your book. Don’t discount the value of your time. You may be spending a couple hundred hours just on marketing, and that’s time you could be spending with family, friends, or a paying gig.

But what about monetary expenses? When self-publishing, the money you spend will largely be through the professionals you hire to assist you. From manuscript to book, you will require a variety of services to achieve a professional-looking, marketable product.

Here is a breakdown of some of the more common vendors you will use (fees based on Editorial Freelancers Association guidelines and my own research):

Book coach: $100 to $300 per 1.5-hour session

Developmental editor: $10 to $15 per manuscript page, or $45 to $65 an hour

Copyeditor: $4 to $10 per manuscript page, or $18 to $40 an hour

Proofreader: $2 to $5 per typeset page, or $15 to $35 an hour


            Interior: $6 to $10 per page, plus setup fee of $100 to $200

            Cover: $800 to $1,200; more for complex designs or original artwork

Printer/Binder: These prices assume a black-and-white interior with a full-color cover. You’ll pay more for longer books, color interiors, and/or larger trim sizes.

            500 copies: $3.65 to $5.25 per unit, plus shipping

            1,000 copies: $2.35 to $3.50 per unit, plus shipping

E-books: Price structures vary. Some are free to start with a cut of the list price going to the company; others charge a setup fee, but you keep 100% of sales.

As you can see, copyediting and design alone could run you $2,000-$3,000. But don’t skimp here. Professional editing, and particularly professional design, are what allow self-published books to compete with the traditionally published. After all your hard work, do you really want to put out an inferior product? Don’t forget, this is your book; you deserve to make it the best it can be!

The P Word: Why Plagiarism Is a Sin

All through high school and college English classes, I heard the P word at least once a semester. It was scandalous, a sin in fact. The one commandment of writing, I learned, is “Thou shalt not plagiarize.” As a teenager I had difficulty grasping the concept, but the more I wrote, the more I understood: if you didn’t write it, then don’t pass it off as your own — and changing a word here or there is not enough. This has grown into a passion of mine as an editor.

One small aspect of a copyeditor’s job is to highlight for the author certain material that may require permission (another scary P word). Generally this comes up when an author has chosen to excerpt some material from another source. Although the appropriate credit has been given, the excerpt is long enough or involved enough to warrant asking permission of the copyright holder to use his or her work. Now, there are a lot of ins and outs to permissions, and it’s understandable that even experienced authors get confused as to what requires permission and what doesn’t. I allow no such excuse for plagiarism.

Why so harsh? Because unlike permissions and copyrights, plagiarism isn’t a fuzzy gray area of law. It is a simple yes or no question: did you write this or not? I have seen plagiarism too many times by grown men and women, and what I have realized is, the sole motivation behind it is laziness. In books and articles, the self-published and those professionally done, I have discovered entire paragraphs — sometimes three or four paragraphs in a row — that were taken directly from another source, with no mention of the other source anywhere in the document. What kills me is, the author doesn’t seem to recognize that he or she has a particular voice or style of writing; when I come across something that a third person has written, it is usually pretty obvious.

Call me cynical, but I have come to believe these authors do it because they think they won’t get caught. I told one perpetrator, who was surprised when I called such a problem to her attention, “All I have to do is copy a sentence from your document into a search engine and I can find where you took it from.” Her response? An incredulous “Really?” Yes, really. Just as easily as you were able to copy and paste the material from Wikipedia into your manuscript, I am able to do a reverse search and find the source you stole from. And how embarrassing it is for all of us when I have to say, I’m sorry, this is plagiarism and you must rewrite it or cut it from your book.

On occasion it is possible this is just a simple mistake. However, more often, I have found multiple sections in a single manuscript that were pulled directly from another source. (Wikipedia is definitely a favorite, but not the only one.) What does this say to me? That the author didn’t actually want to write the book. He or she wanted to have a book published with his or her name emblazoned on the front, yes, but this person did not want to do the work needed to actually accomplish that goal. And that, to me, is sinful.

It all comes down to a question of integrity — the integrity of you, the author, and the integrity of the text you are excerpting. If you don’t know the rules, educate yourself before you begin the great undertaking of writing a book. If you do know the rules, follow them. It’s not that hard. It’s certainly easier to do it right the first time, and then you don’t have to try to explain yourself to your editor when she finds out what you’ve been doing behind closed doors.

Identifying Your Target Audience

“Sell Your Book!” writer’s clinic, Saturday, September 17, 2011, 9 a.m. to noon

One of the major steps in the writing process is identifying the target audience for your book. Many authors want to say their book appeals to everyone, but that’s not realistic and, honestly, not what your book needs. You want to narrow your audience so that you can provide readers with exactly what they are looking for. As they say, you can’t be all things to all people. So choose which group of people you want to “be all things” for. Be as specific as you can. Consider demographics, location, education level. Then find out what it is they really want, align that with what it is you have to offer them, and deliver on it.

An interesting aspect to this process is that it applies not only to authors but to all people looking to market a product or service. Who are you trying to reach? Even as I put this workshop series together, I had to ask myself that same question. For me the answer evolved fairly quickly.

My Workshop Target Audience

  1. I knew I wanted to reach writers who dreamed of publishing a book but who hadn’t gotten so far into the process that they couldn’t make adjustments. Saving time and money is a key goal of my message. That meant people who were still in the writing process and willing to go back for further revisions if needed.
  2. Further, I felt people who are new to the publishing world would benefit most. The information is great for all writers, and even for those simply interested in the publishing field, but that is not may primary audience.
  3. I also knew I wanted to reach those writing for a commercial audience. That meant excluding people who were publishing a volume for their family or other personal use.
  4. My experience is almost entirely with books, so writers in different media are not my target audience.
  5. However, having experience with self-publishers and traditional publishers, and with fiction and nonfiction, I was confident what I had to teach applied to all of those groups, so they are part of my audience.
  6. On the practical side, since this is an in-person workshop, my audience had to be local to St. Louis, MO.
  7. Finally, I narrowed my audience to age 18 and above, a somewhat arbitrary age that implies a certain maturity and experience level, and to a total of 5 attendants per workshop, to cater to those looking for a more personalized experience rather than a large classroom. I wanted to play to my strengths.

After I set those parameters on who exactly I was trying to reach, I used that information to shape the content of the workshop. That may evolve as I get feedback from attendants, but it gave me a solid start.

It was tempting to try to offer something for each and every writer, but because I wanted the best product possible, I had to set limits. It’s a valuable lesson, one I hope to share with more writers and would-be published authors as I continue to hold these workshops. If you want to provide the best experience possible for your audience, you must first decide who that is.

For more on this workshop or to register, visit