A music publisher likes to see a clean score. It is important to be able to read the score easily. Proper settings for margins, fonts, titles, number of measures per page, and number of staves on the page can determine whether the publisher can work with the musical composition in order to publish it. Ask the publisher what kind of page setup they are looking for and what kind of music writing software they prefer. Do they prefer Sibelius or Finale? How many staves should be on a page?Recordings are very important
A composer needs to hear his/her composition performed. This gives the composer a chance to make minor changes that could make an average piece great. The more input he/she can receive from directors and players that have the opportunity to hear and play his/her music the better. After the composer has heard and received information from various sources, a final good recording needs to be made for submission. Obviously, the better the recording is, the better the impression to the publisher. Subsequently, an excellent recording can be used to advertise the music.
Strategy and planning make a difference
A composer needs to have a specific plan in mind before starting to write his/her music. The grade level of the work must be consistent throughout the composition. If he/she is writing a grade two concert band piece (grade one being the easiest level and grade 5 or 6 being the most difficult), it doesn’t make sense to have the trumpet part go up to a high C above the staff. A helpful guide for instrument ranges can be found here Also, the composer needs to keep in mind rhythm and key signatures that are consistent with the grade level of his/her piece. The template, number of parts, is very important in adhering to the grade level of the piece.
After the final version is written and performed, the composer is ready to submit his/her work. He/she can submit the work (better to start with the best work than to send all of the composer’s works) with a PDF file and mp3 recording, or send a hard copy to the publisher. If he/she has a preference of publishers, he/she should send a clean score and a good recording to that publisher first. If the composer does not get the response he/she wants from that publisher, he/she should try some others. The composer should not be discouraged by rejections. Some works may fit one publisher’s catalog better than another. A publishing company may have all the music it can handle for the year. A week after submission, the composer should check with the publisher to see if the company received his/her submission. The publisher may have had internet problems or slow mail or may not have received the composer’s communications. Again, perseverance and patience are important.
Tips that help
If the composer’s music is selected for publication, he/she can help the publisher by finding out what set-up the publishing staff uses for final publication. Also, if the composer can extract the parts for the publisher, keeping in mind the margins, page turns and number of pages the publisher uses, he/she is likely to push up the date of publication. Four pages or less per part make publication easier and less expensive. Sixty pages or less for scores are also easier on the publisher. The composer should get an idea from the publisher where he/she is on the publication list (# 3 or # 33). The composer should be patient if he/she is # 33; publication may take a year to two years. There are special reasons to have pieces moved up on the publication list. For example, the music may be performed on honored occasions (Midwest Clinic, TMEA, etc.) that require an early publication.
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