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Finding a Publisher

girl writing on a laptopYou’ve put your heart and soul into your book. You’ve lost sleep and possibly friends over it. You’ve neglected yourself and your family while you beavered away.

But at last it’s finished. The hard part is done. Isn’t it?

Actually - no. Writing the book was the easy bit. Getting it published is a whole new ball game. But with research, common sense and a bit of effort, you can increase your chances of success.

1. Narrow down the field

There are hundreds of publishing companies out there. But don’t be tempted to choose one at random. Do some legwork. You need to find the right publisher for your book as not every publisher publishes every type of book.

There are writer’s directories available that list publishing companies and specify what genres each one accepts, e.g. fiction, children’s, travel, science-fiction, and so on. Find the ones that match your writing. However, this can still leave you with an enormous choice.

So, an even better way to find a starting point is to look at the books on your shelves or on your Kindle or other ereader. Most likely you have been reading books similar in content to what you have written. And if you haven’t, well, you should have been! Who published these books? Does one name keep cropping up? As part of my research for when I wrote my travel memoir Heads Above Water, I read a great many books by expats about their experiences, particularly in France. Several of these were published by the same house, so that was where I started.       

It’s definitely still worth investing in a directory too. The major ones are The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook  for each year ( for the UK market, and the annual Writers’ Market for the US. You’ll find these in online and high street bookshops.

And while you’re in the bookshop, virtual or otherwise, browse the section that your book would fit into and see who is publishing those books. You won’t have got them all at home. In particular, look at newly published ones to see which publishers are active in your field at the moment.

If it’s feasible, then go to a major book fair such as the ones in London, Bologna and Frankfurt in Europe. Visit the stands of publishers you’re interested in. Pick up their catalogues. Strike up a conversation.

2. Hone in

Now that you have a list of prospective publishers, take time to investigate each one more closely. Go to its website. Is it impressive? Is it easy to use? Is it trying to push its authors and books? Does it seem like a publisher you could get on with? Poke around the site and see what you think. Do you like the physical look of the books it produces i.e. the cover art and design. Visit the submissions page and see what information is given there about the sort of books they’re looking for and how to go about sending your book. Some insist on printed copies only, some are happy with email. Some will only want agented submissions. (I’ll talk about agents another time.)

3. Tackle

Start acting on your shortlist of suitable publishers. Submit your work following the instructions you found on the website. In the absence of any, then write a good query letter and send that in. Don’t send in an unsolicited manuscript unless the publisher has specifically said that’s OK. It won’t be looked at. If your query letter catches the editor’s attention enough, then he or she will ask to see at least a few chapters of your book.


This should be enough advice to get you started on your hunt for a publisher. I’ll be writing articles that go into more detail on the whole publishing process, so keep checking back to


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