Finding a Book Publisher

Updated on July 26, 2018
danciasusilo profile image

Dancia used to write for Vanguard and Psych2Go magazines and published her first book at 18. She is now working on her second book.

Why I am writing this?

I think a lot of us have wanted to be a writer at one point or another. If you follow my Hubpages at all, you would have realized that I have not written anything in years. Why? I was busy. Writing.

Now, you're probably thinking that if I was writing, I would have posted something here so I could earn an income. However, I couldn't because I was off publishing for other organizations and businesses rather than self-publishing on the Hubpages (or any other) platform.

I was not getting paid a lot (not like I was getting paid much here either), but by getting published BY other businesses rather than ON these businesses, I was building my portfolio. When applying for writing jobs, some will ask you for a "writer's resume," which is something I will cover on another post.

Last year, I published my first book. It's a poetry/photography book that I self published to get my name out there and so I can say I actually have a published book. This is important because some companies will not even give you a chance unless you already have a publication out, be it self published or not. This is their way of seeing if you are serious about writing or if you are doing this as a pass-time (which if you are, they do not have to know that!).

Now I am working on a new manuscript titled Red. I want this book and my future books to be published by large publication companies or small local companies if I want more artistic control. When looking at various publishing companies, they ask for a variety of different things and they all have different expectations. It was very confusing, time consuming, and discouraging at times. Read on and I can show you how to organize all this information and get started.

First promotional picture I took for my book

© 2017 Dancia Susilo
© 2017 Dancia Susilo | Source

Choosing a publisher for you

In case you weren't aware, not all publishers publish everything. Even if they do, they focus on specific genres. Take a look at other books similar to or the same as your genre, especially ones you really like personally. Write them down on a list with the book titles as a drop down.

Another thing to do is as simple as a web search. Since my book was a poetry/photography book, I went on Google and typed in: "Top poetry book publishing companies," and went through some listicles. I added them to my list.

If you live in a big city or want to look at small publishing companies, check to see if there are any press fairs or networking events. This is a great way to make a positive impression and increase the likelihood of being published. Take your time talking to people there and talk to other authors as they might be able to help you out. Take everyone's business cards and create a subtle "tell" for yourself as to which people and publishers you may want to work with. For example, you can put them in different sections of your folder/bag/wallet or bend the corner of the cards you intend on looking back on. Once you are at home, add these to the list.

Research the publishers

Now is the time to shrink your list. Go through it and look at their website. What genres are on the main page? This can help confirm if they are still active in that category. Please note that sometimes there are sub-publishing companies and you need to apply through the big one. You should also see what others say about the books published my them and if they get any large reviewers taking a look at their publications.

That should have shrunken your list a little. Next, you need to look at the contact information/submissions tab. This will give you insight as to what they are looking for and how to submit your manuscript. Some companies will only accept snail mail and others will only accept digital files (sometimes specific to PDF only). There are some who only want the first few chapters, some who would accept a story proposal and a few paragraphs to show your writing style, and some who need you to send a finished and edited copy. There are also some publishers who will only talk to literary agents.

By now your list has probably shrunken to about 2/3 of your original list. Rewrite your list and beside each publisher, write down their email address and/or their mailing address, what they want for your manuscript submission and in which format, any other things they need (i.e. writer's resume, cover letter, etc.), how long it takes for them to get back to you if you are accepted and if they accept work already published elsewhere, and anything that stands out to you about their previous publications or press coverage (be it positive or negative). After laying it all out, if you have preferences, number the order of preference beside each publication company.

Preparing for submissions

Whether the publishers ask for a cover letter or not, they will want you to explain why you think your book should be published by them. Looking at your list, you probably have many companies that you have never read from. Create a template with the publisher's name the top and a chart below it so you can write book titles, the themes of the books and subgenres, what you like about the book, and how the titles relate to your book.

Take a trip to your local library and using advanced search, look up the publishing companies' names (omit "press" or "publishing") and specify what category you are looking for. Write down all the codes and take out as many books as you can. Read them (do not waste your time on close reading) and fill out your chart. Keep doing this until you have a sufficient understanding about each publishing company and how your book will fit their roster. You may have crossed some publishing companies off your list through this process.

Now you can write your cover letter/reason why they should publish your book by looking at the column of how each book is similar to yours. This ensures the publishers that your book will meet their intended audience and that you are not submitting to any and every publishing company.


My prep work

© 2018 Dancia Susilo
© 2018 Dancia Susilo

Sending out your manuscript

Take another look at response times and if they accept published books. Double check your manuscript and its format to each publishing company, make sure your cover letter is clear, and have your writer's resume ready. If you have a large social media following, include that at the bottom of your resume.

On your list or charts, write the date of when you submitted each manuscript. After the estimated response time, you may contact them for the status of your manuscript or check to see if they even received it as it might have been overlooked or lost in the mail. Write down when you contacted them again and check for responses after the appropriate time lapse. If you sent the manuscript and the follow up using the same method of communication (i.e. both via email), you may contact them in a different method like phoning them. If you used two different methods, I strongly suggest you do not contact them again. They probably rejected your manuscript. Revise and resubmit or keep looking for another publisher.

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Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Dancia Susilo

    Comments

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      • danciasusilo profile imageAUTHOR

        Dancia Susilo 

        6 weeks ago from Canada

        Thank you!

      • profile image

        SCOBEY 

        7 weeks ago

        Great info!

      • danciasusilo profile imageAUTHOR

        Dancia Susilo 

        2 months ago from Canada

        Just to find which publisher I want to be with? About a month or two. I did have to read a lot of new books to do research since I previously only read one off poems from various websites.

      • profile image

        2 months ago

        How long was your total process?

      • danciasusilo profile imageAUTHOR

        Dancia Susilo 

        2 months ago from Canada

        Thank you Jessica and Alamoa!

      • profile image

        Alamoa 

        2 months ago

        I like the promotional picture. Congrats!

      • profile image

        Jessica 

        2 months ago

        Great advice!

      • danciasusilo profile imageAUTHOR

        Dancia Susilo 

        2 months ago from Canada

        I made it myself. I’d be happy to send you the file if you message me through www.fb.com/danciaks

      • profile image

        Kendra 

        2 months ago

        Where did you get the organizer

      • danciasusilo profile imageAUTHOR

        Dancia Susilo 

        2 months ago from Canada

        Yes, it's quite the trek to get your thoughts onto paper and from paper to shelves.

      • profile image

        Paul S Rana 

        2 months ago

        It's quite an exercise really. But it does help to pave the way for the manuscript's journey from the writers's desk to acceptance and publication.

      • danciasusilo profile imageAUTHOR

        Dancia Susilo 

        2 months ago from Canada

        Thank you so much!

      • tajwershakir profile image

        Tajwer Shakir 

        2 months ago

        Good information for the beginners! May your hard work pays off well in future. All the best!

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