People often ask me how to find a publisher for their books. Here is my advice.
1. DON'T SUBMIT YOUR FIRST BOOK
Make sure your book is the best it can be. I read somewhere that it is usually a writer's fourth book that gets published. You are still learning to write during the first three. I personally have several failed attempts in a drawer. I might go back to them later, but no way am I submitting them without a major rewrite first.
2. READ THE BASIC BOOKS
I am amazed by the number of people who tell me they want to be a writer, but haven't read any basic books on writing. Here are five essential books I would recommend. Don't even think about sending your stuff to an agent until you've read these (or something similar.)
1. Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande
2. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
3. Solutions for Writers by Sol Stein
4. Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan
5. On Writing by Steven King
3. GET SOME DISTANCE
Once you've written a book you think is good enough to be published, put it aside for three months (!) while you work on your next project. Then come back to the original book. You'll be amazed at how much you will want to change about it.
4. GET AN AGENT
Very few publishers will look at stories sent to them by a person they don't know. They will only consider manuscripts submitted by an agent. To find an agent you have to search through a book called The Artists & Writers Yearbook (or its US equivalent) and send the first three chapters and synopsis of your book to likely agents. Even getting an agent is difficult these days, but hopefully one of them will like your story and start sending it out to publishers. Most agents take 10% of every payment you receive. It is worth it. Even after they have found you a publisher they do all the tricky stuff like asking for more money. This keeps your energy free for creative writing.
5. DON'T GIVE UP
The one thing, in my opinion, that separates successful authors from unsuccessful ones is persistence. Keep at it and don't give up. Don't listen to anybody who says you can't do it. Believe in yourself and in your desires. You have to be single-minded and sacrifice other things in your life if you want to be a writer, but it is worth it. For ten years I used to get up an hour early to write, before a long working day as a teacher. 'The only quality, I think, that marks the [successful] writer as different from everyone else is simply an unwillingness to quit.' Terry Rossio (Shrek screenwriter)
6. WRITE TO ENRICH NOT GET RICH
You just might get rich by writing, but don't make that your main motive. Instead, write the sorts of thing you would like to read, the issues and questions that really interest you. Then, even if your book never gets published, it will have enriched your life.
It really helps to ask the Best Storyteller in the Universe for help and inspiration.
P.S. Sorry but I have taken a Solemn Vow and even sacrificed a Small Furry Animal that I will never, EVER read other people's stories, whether they will be published or not. If you would like a professional to read your novel then contact the excellent WRITERS' WORKSHOP. Of course you will have to pay them, but if you want to be a writer it's worth it.
P.P.S. If you haven't already seen it, check out my WRITING TIPS page.