How to find a publisher for my first book

Writing is one thing – finding someone to publish your work is another.

Totally a novice in this area, I went to the book store and spent hours looking through books with similar formats as what I envisioned my work would eventually become. I took notes. Then, I purchased my favorites. At home, I compared the content, texts, and layouts. I tried to determine what made articles saleable and books marketable. After all, publishers are looking to make money and they want material they can sell.

With that in mind, I sat down and began to organize my thoughts and years of notes that I had compiled for writing a submission. I didn’t copy someone else’s format or ideas, but I did use the general patterns that I saw in the magazines and books I had purchased to help me design what I thought was a saleable product for today’s market.

Then I purchased several of the books that listed publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. Some of these are Writer’s Market by Kirsten Holm and Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market by Alice Pope. I also gathered up several magazines and books that were similar to what I wanted to publish and copied down those publishers’ addresses as well.

One by one, I packaged up a brown manila 9X12 and mailed off my samples. Where email submissions were allowed, I copied and pasted, keeping in mind that editors often do not open attachments for reasons of time constraints in downloading or for fear of viruses. I received many many rejection letters. But I just kept believing that the key was numbers. In other words, I kept on mailing samples. I felt like statistically, one day, one of those submissions would end up in the right place at the right time.

Finally, it happened – my first break. The first publisher who was interested in my work asked me to write a sample on a certain subject and meet a deadline. I did and have been writing for him ever since. I learned from that and now when I query for new work, I always offer to write a trial
assignment.

Even if I’ve never done that kind of work before, publishers will sometimes give me a chance to try it one time. If they like the product I turn out, they will often let me have the assignment. I got my first online magazine column by asking to do the column as a trial. The editor liked my work and I got the column long-term. And, of course, each new thing that I do adds something else to my resume and makes me more marketable as a versatile writer.

Every week, I trawl the Internet for freelance writing jobs. Good places to look are:

  • Copyeditor
  • Synopsis
  • writers write
  • Jobs
  • Writers-Exchange
  • Creative Freelancers

I also subscribe to writing magazines and journals. Job opportunities and writing contests are usually listed in the backs of these publications.

The bottom line is that you must actively pursue a publisher. Be committed not just to the writing but to the marketing of your product. It is tempting to just sit and write. But you don’t get published that way.

The bottom line

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