Perhaps you’ve already exhausted the three easiest ways to find the right publisher for your book, or you might be looking for alternatives that better suit you. Sometimes the search for the right publisher needs to be more than sending out manuscripts to a list you obtained online or from a book. Here are three more of my favorite methods to help you along.
Check out Your Competition
If you want to know which publishers are interested in books like yours, just ask them! Well, okay, not directly…but indirectly, you can find out what publishers like by visiting your local bookstore or browsing online bookstores (though walking past a physical shelf, in my opinion, is easier and faster). Find the section or category that your book would be sold in and review the spines. You’ll see logos and sometimes publisher names, but you may need to slide the book out and read the title page or copyright page for complete information. If you’re searching online, the publisher’s name will be listed as part of the book’s details.
If you see that certain publishers seem to dominate your category, that’s a good sign that you’ll want to approach those companies. Be aware that big chain bookstores may not carry as many books from smaller niche publishers, however. That’s where an online bookstore can be helpful.
Hit the Road
Many publishers send editors or marketing representatives to writers’ conferences or literary festivals across the country. Find one near you or take a trip, but before you buy tickets check out the roster for the event. You can find out beforehand which publishers will send someone to the event, and then you can do a little online research to see if any of them are good prospects. Before you go, prepare some materials that you could leave with an interested editor, such as a business card and a one-page synopsis. DO NOT bring copies of your complete 300-page manuscript, which will seriously weigh down the luggage of any travelers, including you!
Once at the event, review your registration package carefully to find out when your target publishers are available in case they will only be present for part of the event. Additionally, some events have one-on-one meetings that you can register for separately, while others have vendor areas where you can chat with representatives briefly and browse books from their latest catalog. One-on-ones are especially effective ways to pitch your book directly to an editor who may invite you to send your complete proposal or manuscript, and who will then read it with a warmer eye for having met you.
Attend Book Expo America (BEA)
Book Expo America, also known as BEA, is an industry convention for publishing folk including marketing and sales people, editors, agents, and authors. The cost of attending is somewhat pricey, especially if you don’t live in New York City and need to add hotels, meals, and transportation to the bill. Nevertheless, don’t write this fantastic event off so easily, because there’s a ton of benefit to be had for self-published and not-yet-published authors. You may very well find the right publisher for your book here!
This is one of very few events where you have access to hundreds of publishers all in one place. As you walk the aisles, you’ll see displays from each that can help clue you into which publishers might be interested in your book. You can also pick up catalogs and chat with representatives, sometimes even pitch your book to see if they will invite you to submit your work. For more details, check out my blog post on BEA and why you should go.
How have you been looking to find the right publisher for your book? I’d love to know what has worked or not worked for you!
Founder of The Writer’s Ally, Ally E. Machate is a bestselling book collaborator, award-winning editor, and expert publishing consultant who loves using her insider knowledge and experience with the publishing industry to lead serious authors toward success. She and her team live to help make great books happen, whether that means showing a writer how to improve a manuscript, get an agent, or self-publish; or coaching an author on growing her platform to sell more books. Since 1999, she has supported hundreds of authors on their publishing journey and takes pride in serving as their books’ best ally.