If you’ve ruled out self-publishing for now and are interested in sharing your book with the world, one of the next steps you will need to take is to find the best publisher for your book. Many new authors find this part of the process overwhelming—after all, there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of publishers out there, each operating under its own rules and business model, some one-man operations and some part of multinational media conglomerates. The good news is that there are multiple ways you can find the best publisher to send your book to, but which way is the best? Here are three of my favorite methods.
Get an Agent
You want an approach that’s easy, time-saving, and that will produce the best results. For most authors, this will mean using the services of a literary agent. Part of the benefit to working with an agent is access to his or her relationships with editors—this is what gets their submissions to the top of the reading pile and what can help attract an offer. The other large benefit to working with a literary agent is that they will do the work of submitting your proposal or manuscript, following up, and negotiating a deal should an offer come through. You’ll pay for these benefits with a percentage of any monies your book earns—typically 15%–but the best of these industry gatekeepers earn their fees and then some.
The big downside is that finding an agent to represent you can take as much or more time as finding a publisher! Moreover, if your book is best suited to a small niche audience, you’re most likely going to be looking at similarly small niche publishers. These are unlikely to give you enough of an advance to be worth an agent’s time. Therefore, you may choose to submit your own book to publishers, which would only cost you postage and time. If that’s the boat you’re in, read on for some tips on how to find the best publisher for your book yourself.
When it comes to doing any sort of research, the internet is one of the easiest approaches to take. If you already know of a publisher or two in your genre, try a standard internet search with that publisher’s name. This will lead you to their website, where you’ll find critical information such as what types of books the publisher is looking for, whether the publisher will consider unsolicited or unagented submissions, and instructions on how to send your manuscript. Always, always follow the submission guidelines.
Another approach is to perform a standard internet search with a generalized phrase, such as “science fiction publishers,” or whatever your genre is. This will likely lead you to online directories for authors or websites of genre-specific writing communities. These websites are a great time saver, but be cautious of the information they provide; sometimes these sites are outdated. You’ll still want to visit the publishers’ websites to get as much accurate information as possible.
Try Print Resources
A number of printed resources are also available to help you find information on publishers. One of those resources is the Writer’s Market book series from Writer’s Digest. There are a number of these devoted to specific genres and book types (such as adult vs. children) and they’re updated annually. These books outline publishers that accept manuscripts from both agents and authors without agents. Information on guidelines and what publishers need is also outlined. You can often get books like these at your local library, but some have online subscriptions as well.
As you can see, there are a number of easy ways that you can find the best publisher to help you publish a book. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but it’ll get you started as you being your journey on the road to publication! And if you’re hungry for more, here are three more ways to find the right publisher for your book.
What are some of your own favorite tips for finding and choosing publishers?
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.