How To Find A Publisher Of Book: Great Tips For Authors

by CJ McDaniel // April 25  

The increase in options for book publishing is beneficial to authors. But it can be a bit confusing for you to find a book publisher. It’s so because of the difference between the publishers and their services. However, finding good publishers depends on your choice, how good your work is, including the resources at your disposal.

This article aims to help budding authors understand how to find the right publisher for a book without breaking a sweat. So, keep reading to learn more!

Steps On How To Find A Book Publisher

Write the manuscript:

Don’t look for a publisher unless you’ve finished the manuscript. It can be a dilemma if a publisher requests it when you’re not through writing it. You’ll rush to finish it in a short time and so may not deliver your best work.

It can be a bit tedious to write a book, and things may go wrong on the way. Sometimes, people start writing a book but don’t finish it. And no publisher would like waste time going through an unfinished book.

So, no matter how confident you’re about your book, complete the manuscript before taking any other step.

Prepare your proposal and query letter:

Most publishers don’t accept manuscripts that they didn’t request. Some accept manuscripts at particular times of the year. Most times, they publish only specific genres.

So, to get a publisher to request your manuscript, you should prepare a query letter and a proposal. If your book is a novel, the proposal usually contains the first three chapters, as this helps the publisher see your writing style, including how you developed your characters and plot. Some publishers will require a synopsis (brief outline). You can write one with ease if you’re through with your manuscript.

However, if your book is non-fiction, the proposal is usually complex. It’s so because publishers may not know much about non-fiction audiences like the audience for fiction or novels. It can be more difficult for a narrow niche.

The proposal for non-fiction books is usually one chapter (not necessarily the first chapter) with proves that it has a market (with examples of similar books sold). It also includes information about your audience, a summary of what makes your book unique, including your qualifications as a writer. You also have to include an outline, a summary of each chapter, and the table of contents.

Find an agent:

You have to find a literary agent after your proposal and query letter are in place. The query letter is to ask if the agent can represent you to the publisher.

Most publishers don’t accept unrequested books, especially for a genre that is not fiction. So, the agent will stand in for you. However, have in mind that agents can accept such an agreement only when you’re likely to sell many copies to pay the commission.

Agents can also make the publisher check out your work. They also know the right editors to meet. And they can help you negotiate better advance payments. Furthermore, you can find agents at conferences, or you can look them up online.

Look out for agents that have an interest in your genre. You can submit to several agents to hasten the process. But keep in mind that you can’t sign a contract with more than one.

Get request from publishers:

It can take about six months to one year for a publisher to request your manuscript. Sometimes they might not, even after a long wait. So, it may be reasonable to submit to several publishers to shorten the acceptance and publishing time.

It would also make sense to have a list of publishers within your genre. Be sure of their submission guidelines before submitting. You can check their websites to find it. So, you’re likely to get a good publisher based on your proposal.

Present a complete manuscript:

Make sure you’ve completed it, with a killer conclusion. Know that even if publishers request your manuscript, they can still reject it if it’s not complete. So, do your best to avoid this.

When you also get an offer from a publisher, inform the other ones you contacted, so they don’t waste time on it or make an offer too.

A Handy Tip: Note that some publishers may reject your work, but that shouldn’t discourage you. You need perseverance to succeed in any industry, including writing. And the more publishers you have contact with, the better your understanding of how to find a publisher.

How To Choose A Good Publisher For Your Book

There are diverse publishing options out there for authors. These include traditional publishing like big five or small publishers and self-publishing.

The big five publishers:

These including the largest publishers in the world. They have a large market for book sales in the United States and other countries. But they invest most of their marketing budget in top authors. Authors who don’t have a large platform have little or no marketing support, so they’ll have to do the bulk of the work themselves.

These publishers also distribute their published books to bookstores or retailers, which may not be accessible to small publishers. And if you don’t have a literary agent, they won’t consider your proposal. These publishers include Macmillan, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin Random house.

Furthermore, you get an advance payment when you sign a contract with them. And such payment is usually an upfront payment on your royalties. For instance, if you receive an advance of $15,000, you will have to wait till they sell 6,250 copies of your book before you start to get royalties. So, if your royalty is 10%, you’ll get $2 for every $20 copy that the publisher sells. They usually pay the royalties every six months.

The publishers usually have ownership rights to your book. So, you’ll have to buy back the rights if you decide to take it to another publisher. Until then, they have the right to license and copywrite your work. But a good literary agent can withdraw some rights that you can have. And you can’t get the print rights unless you buy it or the book goes out of print.

Small press publishers:

These are smaller publishing companies that are mainly privately owned but are sometimes public-owned. There are lots of small publishers out there, and they have different modes of operating. And this gives authors various options to choose from when seeking to publish a book.

Unlike the big five publishers, there are huge differences between the small publishers. Hence, their terms of the contract, royalty rates, and editing, designing, and marketing standards are different from a small publisher to another.

So you’ll have to research the small publisher that you want to help publish your book. Take it seriously, if you don’t have an agent to decide the best publisher for your book.

Like the big five publishers, they pay you royalties. However, some pay you about 8% to 15% royalties, with a small advance payment.

Others pay you up to 50% royalties, with no advance. But the good thing is that most of them let you retain your copyright, as well as other rights, and so you’ll have control of your work.

Some small publishing companies will offer you free editing services. They also might not pressure you to sign a contract.


Sometimes, when publishers don’t accept your book, self-publish might seem more decent. But then, ensure you receive legal advice on which tax structure is best for you, as a self-publisher.

Self-publishing will also give you control of all the publishing processes. The processes include proofreading, editing, cover designing, printing, and marketing. You might find self-publishing interesting if you are entrepreneurial or want control of your publishing. Other publishing options don’t give you this control.

Furthermore, you’ll have to hire an editor and professionals that’ll do your printing, and even marketing. But this will require investing lots of resources like your time, money, and knowledge on publishing. Why? It’s so because you have to do all the work.

Sometimes, self-published authors don’t earn profit from their investment. So, don’t self-publish with money you can’t risk losing. Also, do thorough research before self-publishing because some authors fail due to a lack of proper knowledge of the process.

How To Find Out The Book Publisher To Avoid

Some publishers are more concerned about filling their pockets than giving out the value. They are the kind of publishers you should be careful doing business with. Avoid the pressure to sign contracts in a hurry without finding out about the publisher. Here’s how to figure out publishers you should avoid.

Bad reviews:

Always check online reviews of any publishing company you intend to use. Most times people who were previously extorted or given books that are not standard will give a bad review of the company online.

No references:

Ask for a reference list before you sign a contract. Also, try to contact some authors who had worked with the publisher to know their experience. It will help you determine if to go ahead with the publisher or not.

Lack of track record:

Ensure they have a track record of publishing books in record time. Publishing requires a lot of hard work and experience. So try to get some copies of their previously published books.

Low quality work:

You have to make sure that they publish well-designed books. Verify their book cover designs, book content, and print layout etc. You should also check if the publisher has a great editing capacity.


So, how do you find the publisher of a book? We hope you learned a thing or two from this post. Without mincing words, finding a good author to publish a book can be challenging at times. It can even be more challenging if you’re a new publisher.

Also, no matter what happens, don’t give up. Keep pursuing your dream despite any rejections, and you’ll surely get there.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!