In modern times, it is SO so much easier to track down publishers for the genre you want to work with.
The number one step should always be to go through your research library for your genre and see where other books like yours are being published. It’s critically important for a person interested in writing a book to do solid research into the existing market for their genre. If you want to write cozy mysteries about cats, read a bunch of cozy mysteries about cats and see what is selling well. Then make a spreadsheet of the publishers involved.
If your book is a “never before seen mash-up” like zombie regency women on a spaceship, there should still be enough books in the same general category to do the research.
For each book on that spreadsheet, research it on Amazon. Look at its sales rank. Look at the number of reviews. All of these help tell you the fan volume in this area.
A second way to find publishers is to do Google searches. There are countless lists on the web of “publishers for Science Fiction” or “publishers for Horror” or so on. Your google search will also land you on actual publisher pages as well. Add all of those to your spreadsheet.
One beauty of self-publishing is that, if you do it well, publishers will start chasing YOU in order to bring you into their fold. You will have proven your value as an author, and the power of your fan base, and they want that. I had that happen to me with my Weddings Traditions content. I did a solid job of building a readership with my articles and a small-press publisher came to me asking me to write three books. The publisher ran into financial trouble and then had to back out – but they paid me $1,000 as a “kill fee” which meant I now had $1,000 in my pocket and three books ready to market to another publisher. I quickly found another small publisher who wanted them and got them onto the market.
As a follow-up to this story, after a few years that second publisher went bankrupt and I self-published them, which was quite fine by me. I make much more money self-publishing them than I did getting the royalty payments from that publisher.
So there are a number of ways to build up your spreadsheet of options. Make it as long as you can. It’s good to have a variety of options. It might not be your first contact that works out. Or your second. Or even your third.
When Harry Potter was first written, over 12 different publishers turned this book down - they thought nobody would buy it. Obviously they were very wrong! But kudos to the author for keep working at it. She knew if she just kept going that she’d find the right match. And she did.
Publishers have specific topics they’re interested in at a given moment. Your perfect book might just not be a fit for their current plan. If you get turned down by one, or two, or ten, don’t get discouraged. You’ll find the right publisher - and the fit will work perfectly.
That being said, when you’re building your list, always aim for publisher who are a GREAT fit for your book. If you have a bad fit, they’ll never accept you! Don’t submit a sweet scifi romance to a horror publisher. That makes no sense for you or for them. You are aiming for that perfect fit.
Put in the effort to figure out who that is. Research what they currently carry.
I want to note in here, just in case you do end up being turned down by everyone you contact, that in modern times you never NEED a publisher. A publisher takes a huge chunk of your profits. In return, they supposedly help to promote and push your book - but a lot of publishers don’t do that very well. You might do just as well selling your first book on your own, getting yourself known, and then have publishers coming after you for subsequent books.
OK, so you have your list of publishers. If the top choice on your list requires an agent, then go to that literary agent chapter and work on finding a perfect one for your genre. That will then be the literary agent’s responsibility to guide you through the next steps.
However, if your publishing company allows direct contact, a query letter will be your next step. We’ll tackle that in a minute, after we spend a bit more time discussing Writer’s Market since it can be a useful tool.
Traditional Publishing - main page
Overview of Traditional Publishing
How Copyright Works
Working With A Literary Agent
... My Concerns about Agents
Finding a Publisher
... Writer's Market
Writing a Query Letter
... Query Letter Tips
... Query Letter Issues to Avoid
Getting To a Contract Offer
Negotiating the Contract
Working With the Publisher or Agent
... Publishers and Editing
Submitting to Magazines
Tips for Submitting Short Stories
Getting Your Book Published
Writing Tips and Online Books
Lisa Shea Medieval Romance Novels
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