Finding a Publisher

The hard work does not end once a manuscript is written, getting a book published takes commitment and persistence.

There are number of paths you could follow, and Jane Friedman’s infographic: 4 Key Book Publishing Paths, outlines these. 

Tips to finding a publisher:

  1. Finding a PublisherWrite your book: It sounds obvious, I know, but if you are a first time novelist, this point is vital. Why? Because you have no track record and no proof that you actually have the skill and dedication to write a book. This means that if you are just pitching an idea, you won’t have much credibility.
  2. Know your audience: Editors will ask you what genre your book is and you need to have a clear idea. You should also have a good understanding of who your audience is – that is who is likely to read your book. You need to be able to indicate both of these things. Saying your book is historical romantic fiction with crime and humour that will be read by anyone interested will just not cut it! Be specific and be succinct.
  3. Research the market: What books, comparable to yours, are currently being sold? Visit bookstores and libraries, and search eBook stores looking for books similar to yours – start with your genre and audience, eg: children’s fantasy fiction. Take note of the publisher and editor of each book. It is also a good idea to read some of these and see how your book differs from what is on the market. What does your book offer that these do not? Where does your book fit in the current market?
  4. Research publishers: You want to find the right publisher for your book. There is no point wasting your time or the publisher’s time by sending them something that is just not what they publish. You should have already started gathering a list of potential publishers when you were researching the market. Add to this list by researching publishers. You can conduct an Internet search, check out resources at your local library, investigate what information is held at your closest writers’ centre or find services that have searchable databases of publishers and literary agents; eg: Duotrope, The Australian Writer’s Market, Writers and Artists are services that work on a subscription basis. Once you have completed your ‘potential publishers’ list, visit the website of each publisher.
  5. Create a list: Take note of comparable books in each publisher’s booklist, whether they accept unsolicited manuscripts, if they accept simultaneous submissions, what their submission guidelines are, the name and title of the person to whom you send your manuscript.
  6. Prepare your manuscript: As a general rule, your manuscript should be formatted as follows: double-spaced, numbered pages, readable font (such as courier or times new Roman), reasonable font size (10-12 pt.). Remember to follow the submission guidelines set out by the individual publishers – they often ask for slightly different things and you need to follow these carefully. It is a good idea to have a synopsis and stock query letter written at this point – many publishers will require this and you can get this done while you are in the final stages of redrafting your manuscript. This will also help you understand your genre and audience. For more information on how to write a synopsis and query letter, read my previous blog: How to Write a Synopsis, and keep an eye out for my upcoming blog: How to Write a Query Letter. Many publishers will ask for the first 50 pages or three chapters as well. You can get a head start on ensuring these are error-free by going over these sections several times, have someone else read them too for a fresh set of eyes, and/or sending them to a freelance editor or proofreader.
  7. Submit your manuscript: Make sure you include everything the publisher has asked for in their submission guidelines, always address your package to the right person (include their name and title), and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
  8. Wait for feedback: It can take months to hear back from the publisher so be prepared. Often their timeframe is indicated on the company website – take note of this on your list of publishers. Usually you can submit your manuscript to several publishers simultaneously, however, make not of any who state that they do not accept simultaneous submissions.
  9. Don’t give up: Most authors receive multiple rejections. Don’t get disheartened, persistence is key! Caitlan LaRue’s blog: Why Finding an Agent or Publisher is Like Dating: A Scary Analogy, is definitely worth a read!


Writing and Editing Services:

You need to present your best work as professionally as possible. Make sure the work is error-free! A Worded Life offer a range of services including: manuscript assessment, editing and proofreading.


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3 thoughts on “Finding a Publisher

  1. Gee, well…

    Am under the illusion that I’ve learned something from pubbing 30+ books, mostly with big NY houses. I’d say,

    1) Never send an unsolicited ms. anywhere, publisher or agent. The slush pile is a cemetery

    2) Get a good agent. Find them at Go to writers conferences and meet them.

    3) Let your agent find the right publisher. She knows what editor wants what, and you don’t.

    4) Do the rest–know your audience, your market, the comparables, etc.

  2. Pingback: Literary Agent :: Shel SweeneyShel Sweeney

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