Choosing publishers is like choosing clothes. If it doesn't fit right, what's the point in buying it. In my journey in selecting publishers, I scoured the long list of many reputable publishers both great and small, not minding if they were publishers in e-books, traditional, print on demand...it did not matter so long as I could get that blasted size 5 and a half foot in the door.
Easier said than done. After all, my foot is tiny compared to most.
Some publishers, I found, only represent a certain genre and nothing else. Reading their submissions guidelines - carefully - is a must. I discovered that many do not publish fiction; many still only publish cookbooks or books on history about some obscure person or event that took place. Some only publish law books, academia, anime and graphic novels, and lets not forget those exciting books on computer programming.
Because most lists start alphabetically, one automatically starts at the letter A, then moves on to B and so forth. I set up an attack plan and portioned out a few hours in the day to launch my onslaught. After careful reading and background checks, I had my list completed and sent out as many queries as I could, careful to disregard those that stated they do not accept multiple submissions. Now, it took me a while to figure that one out. I thought at first they meant that I shouldn't send them a bombardment of submissions, hoping that they'd get the point and read my manuscript. What I dufus I was. It simply means that if I submitted elsewhere, not to bother sending to them. And, believe it or not, there are many publishers out there who do just that. Which really makes it hard when you're in the submitting process.
Most publishers, after an initial confirmation notice via email that they have received your submission, will take at least one to three months to reply to you with either a yes or a no. Now as a first time writer seeking out a publisher, that is hard work and if you don't have the patience, don't bother being a writer.
The waiting game is the hardest.
Because your conscience (well, mine in particular) does not allow you submit to someone who does not accept multiples, you spend the majority of your time waiting for a response from the publishers who are not so strict in their guidelines. While you wait, you think all number of things. Like missed chances, the shrinking time frame as the limited opening for submissions passes by, wondering if you worded your query letter right, did you offend someone by being too frank, did they think your work was crap and they just tossed it... On and on you drive yourself mad with these thoughts.
Somewhere during my waiting game, I made the decision to cancel my vanity press option. It was hard to do, but I knew it was something that I needed to do in order to prove to myself that I was a writer. That I didn't need to pay to have my work printed because it was good enough for someone to actually want to publish it.
And still I waited...
Then the replies started to come in drips and drags: No thanks, not what we are looking for at the moment. And one by one, you cross names out from your list.
And then one day, just when you thought people had completely forgotten about you, just when you think about your next plan of attack, a reply comes.
You read it twice, just to make sure you've seen correctly. You read it carefully, just like the first rejection letter you receive. You read it once more and then the grin spreads across your face and you can't stop grinning for the rest of the week.
Yes! Someone finally said yes!
To make things even more special, its a yes from one of the publishers you were hoping would say yes.
Life is good once more and you feel blissfully loved.