Once your manuscript is written and polished, and you have your cover ready, it is time to find a suitable publisher. For first-time writers, it is important that your manuscript be entirely finished. Publishers in the past have received far too many works in progress that were never completed and won’t be willing to take a chance on you. New writers also have to prove that they can keep a story line going throughout their manuscript. However, if you submit subsequent books to your own publisher, just sending a few chapters and an outline or synopsis of the book would be sufficient.
Finding the right publisher will take some research on your part. First of all, you will want one, who accepts your genre of writing. There are a variety of sources, both on and off the net where you can search. You can visit such sites as the Association of American Book Publishers and a list of various publishers at: http://www.topicsites.com/publishers/book-publishers.htm. If you want a Canadian publisher go to: http://www.cs.cmu.edu//Unofficial/Canadiana/CA-zines.html. Poets can find a list of publishers at: http://www.pmpoetry.com/publishers.shtml. You can also check out the World Wide Web Virtual Library of Publishers.
As well, you can visit your local library and check out the most recent edition of Writer’s Digest. This book lists the various publishing houses, along with agency profiles of American and Canadian publishers. You will also find the names of the editors and an assortment of essays on book publishing written by industry insiders. Please note, however, that the book does not list any publisher’s reading or editing fees.
If you opt for a traditional publisher, be prepared to wait weeks and more likely months to receive a reply. It truly is a waiting game because most publishers today are simply inundated with requests. Then expect to get a lot of rejections.
Remember, it is not that you’re a bad writer. It is simply that publishers have a wide range of books to choose from. Don’t lose hope. If possible, follow up your query letters with a phone call and if any of them are near to you, pay them a personal visit. However, don’t harass them or your manuscript will wind up in the garbage no matter how good it might be.
Those hoping to publish a children’s book should of course, seek out children’s book publishers, though there are some exceptions. Whatever you write, you will need to decide on a publisher and note again that I said “a publisher” because it is not acceptable to submit your manuscript to more than one. It is fine to query as many as you want, but the industry frowns on writers who put their manuscript in the hands of more than one publisher. Also, depending on the publisher you choose, you will either send in your manuscript by snail mail or over the Internet in a digital MS Word file. Remember to keep a copy for yourself by burning it onto a CD.