Researching Publishers for Your Manuscript

Don’t let the search overwhelm you.
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If you don’t have an agent, with the start of a new year you are probably thinking about submitting some of your manuscripts. Here are four things to consider as you look at publishers online.

Publish What You Write

First things first, make certain that they publish what you write. One of the complaints that I frequently hear from agents and publishers is that writers do no research before sending out their work. If you heard an editor speak, you should still check out their manuscript wish list or the publisher’s site. They may have mentioned young adult novels that they love but they only publish picture books through middle grade.

Once you’ve double checked the category, look at the nonfiction topics or the fiction genres. An editor may love middle grade, but not publish fantasy. A nonfiction publisher may publish STEAM or STEM but not publish bios even of great scientists.

Not Too Similar

Once you know that they publish the types of books you write, look at some of the actual books. A publisher that has one picture book series on habitats probably won’t want another. One that has a middle grade mystery series set in the Gilded Age may not be interested in a series of middle grade adventure novels set in the same time period.

It is a tricky balancing act. You have to find someone who publishes something similar but not too similar.

Accepting Submissions?

Once you’ve found a publisher who accepts your type of books and doesn’t have someone who writes something too similar make certain they are currently accepting submissions. If they aren’t, check the wording of their announcement. This might be a temporary hiatus. If so, just move them down your list.

Do You Like the Books?

At some point in checking out the publisher, make certain that you actually like the books themselves. I don’t mean make sure you like the stories. I mean the actual books. Do you like the illustrators that they choose for picture books and covers? If you hate their book design, you won’t be happy with your book.

And you might want to get ahold of a few print copies as well. As soon as I picked up one publisher’s book at the library, I knew it was a hard no. Not only was the ink especially pungent, but the paper had an unusual to me shiny finish that actual squeaked when you ruffled the pages. This wasn’t a clever design element in a book about mice. It was just odd and, at least to me, irritating.

Make sure that the publisher is a good match for your work. Verify that you love their work. And, before you hit send, make certain that they are taking submissions. Then? Get your work out the door and good luck!