Five Ways to Find the Right Publisher for Your Book

The (Almost) Shortest-Ever Blog Series

In today’s news…I’m announcing the conclusion of the shortest-ever blog “series”—if you can even call it a series when it includes only five posts.


I like the idea of featuring different publishers who accept unagented submissions, but the more time I’ve spent on it, the more convinced I’ve become that this series wasn’t the most effective place for me to put my time.

The problem is that I don’t feel like I have a lot of value to add. It’s not actually that difficult to locate information about publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts. With a little digging, you can come up with editor interviews, Amazon rankings, books published, market needs, etc.—and even if I sum up that info here, because this is the kind of information that changes from week to week. You’ll need to do your research anyway.

So: today’s post marks the official end of our series on small publishers. I won’t be profiling individual publishing companies from here out. I will, however, leave you with this list of how to find and evaluate publishers when you are ready to start submitting.

Five Ways to Find the Right Publisher

image1. Big Six Publishers

  • A few accept unagented submissions, but your manuscript will fall into a huge slush pile and may never emerge again. Be forewarned.
  • Increase your chances (and up your odds) by meeting editors at conferences.
  • Get to know the imprints and how they differ from one another.
  • It’s okay to submit to two different imprints at the same house, but probably not at the same time.
  • It’s NOT okay to submit to two different editors at the same imprint—a “no” from one is a “no” from all of them.
  • Many will respond only if interested.
  • Many will only look at agented submissions or submissions from authors they met at writing conferences. This means they have fewer manuscripts to wade through.

2. Start with a list of publishers’ websites, like this list of children’s book publishers, to streamline your search.

3. Start with a market guide, such as the 2012 Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market.

4. Peruse bookstore shelves for similar titles to find publishers that might be interested in your work.

5. Finally: always, always, always check the publisher’s websites. Market information changes quickly; just because a third-party website says that a publisher accepts unagented submissions doesn’t meant that they still do. Find their submission guidelines. FOLLOW them. Trust me, editors do NOT appreciate cutesy tricks such as singing telegrams, confetti, or pastel paper.

Each publishing house and imprint has its own personality, so just because a publisher accepts young adult fantasy doesn’t mean they will appreciate all young adult fantasy. Look at their most recent catalog. Pick up copies of their recent books at the library or your local bookstore, or download the free samples on Kindle. (Note: you don’t need a Kindle for this—you can run a Kindle app on your laptop or desktop machine)

If you take time to research different houses and different imprints, you might just find the right home for your manuscript!

Meet Award-Winning Author Nancy I. Sanders—and her Publisher, Chicago Review Press

This week, I’m participating in Nancy I. Sander’s Book Launch Party for her new picture book, Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities. Here, she shares insight about working with her fabulous publisher, Chicago Review Press. Hop on over to her site for more book launch fun!


Featured Book

Frederick Douglass for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities, by Nancy I. Sanders

Few Americans have had as much impact on this nation as Frederick Douglass. Born on a plantation, he later escaped slavery and helped others to freedom via the Underground Railroad. In time he became a bestselling author, an outspoken newspaper editor, a brilliant orator, a tireless abolitionist, and a brave civil rights leader. He was famous on both sides of the Atlantic in the years leading up to the Civil War, and when war broke out, Abraham Lincoln invited him to the White House for counsel and advice.

Frederick Douglass for Kids follows the footsteps of this American hero, from his birth into slavery to his becoming a friend and confidant of presidents and the leading African American of his day. And to better appreciate Frederick Douglass and his times, readers will form a debating club, cook a meal similar to the one Douglass shared with John Brown, make a civil war haversack, participate in a microlending program, and more. This valuable resource also includes a time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web resources for further study.

You can purchase Frederick Douglass for Kids here.

clip_image001Interview with the Author

How did you hear about Chicago Review Press?

When our sons Dan and Ben were in elementary school, their teachers and the librarians at our local library had these great children’s nonfiction books they were using chock full of activities and great information! I fell in love with books like Westward Ho! and Colonial Kids by Laurie Carlson and had fun making the crafts and activities with my sons. As I became more familiar with these books, I started to think, “Hey! I could try to write a book like this.” So I wrote a proposal and submitted it to them along with my resume.

They rejected my proposal. But I got a letter back from the editor along with the rejection saying that they saw on my resume that I write for the Christian market. They asked me to submit a proposal to them on the history of the Bible. That’s how my very first book with Chicago Review Press was born: Old Testament Days: An Activity Guide.

What sets this publisher apart from others in the industry?

There are two things that make Chicago Review Press children’s nonfiction books unique.

First, there are plenty of craft and activity books out there for kids. But Chicago Review Press’s activity books for kids include a phenomenal amount of interesting historical information. These activity books read like exciting history books!

The second thing is that there is plenty of great nonfiction out there for kids. But Chicago Review Press’s history books are famous for their activities that are included. These aren’t just crafts or busy work, however. These are historical based activities, the kind you’ll find at a museum for kids to do to get an authentic feel for what life was like during that era.

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