So you want to get your choral music published? Great! Choral music is one of the biggest markets in the world for sheet music. Unfortunately, that market has been shrinking along with basically all printed sheet music over the past decade. This is due to a variety of factors, like illegal copying, internet file sharing, public domain editions online, and shrinking school and church budgets.
A big market also means big competition. Here are 5 strategies you can try if you want to get published:
- Use an interesting, unique text.
The last thing the market needs is another setting of Gloria. Find texts that inspire you to write and connect to your style.
- Make the accompaniment playable.
Be sure that the piano accompaniment is idiomatic and accessible. An editor can tell if you have never actually played the piano part. Can’t play piano well enough? Ask a friend or colleague to try it out and give you feedback.
- Avoid a cappella settings.
I know, this sounds crazy since I am a huge fan of contemporary a cappella (and traditional, of course)! However, a cappella pieces just don’t sell very well. And let me tell you– if it won’t sell, it won’t get published. Publishing is a business! Once you’ve established your name in the market, then you can publish those great a cappella works.
- Find choirs to perform your pieces.
Contact local schools, churches, universities, and community choirs and see if they are open to even reading through your work. You’ll learn so much from even just one rehearsal of a piece (what works, what doesn’t). My big publishing breakthroughs came through connections with conductors with whom I had worked closely.
- Be patient.
I had my first choral works published in 2011. You know when I wrote most of them? Almost a decade earlier. Just because you get a rejection letter from one publisher doesn’t mean there isn’t publication potential for your work. Study pieces from each publisher to find their niche. Target publishers that put out pieces similar to yours.
You can typically expect 3-6 months to hear back from a publisher on a submission. In the meantime, you may consider self-publishing to test the waters a bit. Whatever you do, don’t get consumed by getting published. Focus on developing your craft and getting your music performed as much as possible!
Published composers- what other tips would you have for those trying to enter the field?