How to Find a Publisher

For people dipping their toes into the vast sea of publishing for the first time, knowing how to find a publisher can be an overwhelming task.

I’m talking to those who have ventured into these waters from another field. Doctor, teacher, business exec, stay-at-home mom. And now God has given you a story or message to share.

Where do you start?

  • Search the market guides, and there are a variety of these. Here are the search results on Amazon. These books list contact info, genres, and more. It is the most valuable tool in your search. They are updated and published every year and quite often can be found in the reference section of your library. Older versions are often available for check out.
  • Visit your local book store (or the book section at Wal-Mart) and peruse the books in your genre. Be sure to take a notepad and pencil and make a list of the publishers. Their info can be found on the copyright page of the book.
  • Do a search for “publishers [your genre].”
  • Another option, though it can be expensive, is to attend a writers’ conference. Here you’ll be able to meet face to face with acquisition editors and pitch your story. You’ll also meet other writers and attend workshops that help you learn the craft of writing, marketing, and platform.

Now I have a list. What’s next?

  • Once you have a list, visit their websites and learn more. Study the About Page and ensure this is a company you want your name associated with. Then find their submission guidelines. Not all publishers make this easy. When all else fails, check the Contact Us page, or search the market guide. Sometimes guidelines are only available on request.
  • Ensure your manuscript is polished and ready for submission. Fiction submissions require you have your manuscript complete before you submit; however, with nonfiction you can submit a proposal before you have finished the manuscript.
  • Write a book proposal. Related articles with links on how to write a proposal can be found at the bottom of this post. If the guidelines say “query first,” then write a query.

How long does all this take?

  • The first publisher you submit to may snatch it up. Or you may suffer through a lot of rejection. It can be a long and arduous task. If you haven’t had the help of a critique group or an editor and you’ve been receiving rejections, consider those options. Here is web page listing famous authors and the rejection they faced. But they persevered, and that is what we all must do.
  • The good thing about today’s publishing process is that you can now submit to several publishers at a time. This is called a simultaneous submission and you’ll want to state that in your cover letter if that’s what you’ve done.
  • Many publishers will give you a waiting time frame before you follow up with your submission. That allows them the time needed to send your manuscript through it’s acquisitions process. They will either contact you to say yes/no, or tell you if you don’t hear back within that time frame to assume they have rejected it.

Beware of scams. Check out Predators and Editors in addition to doing a Google search for reviews on a publisher before you make a decision.

If you’ve been published, share with us how you found your publisher and how long it took.

Related articles:
How to write a book proposal
The Top 3 Mistakes Writers Make When Submitting and How to Fix Them
Do You Query Properly?

Are you looking for an editor? Check out my editing services.

Want to get published but don’t know where to start?

Maybe you have a finished manuscript or just an idea stuck in your head. Email me today at Deb [at] DebraLButterfield [dot] com, and let's discuss how I can help you reach your dream of publication.


  1. This is a great round-up of information! It took several years for me to find a publisher for my first novel. I did query agents and publishing houses for about five years before I eventually met an aquisitions editor at a writer’s conference. In the meantime, I had put my novel through several critiques and had taken a fiction writing class.

    • Kudos for your perseverance. And your debut novel won the CSPA Award! Your effort and the waiting paid off.

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