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A Guide to Finding the Right Publisher for Your First Book

A Guide to Finding the Right Publisher for Your First Book

Your completed manuscript culminates countless hours of hard work, late nights, and creative genius. So, now that you’ve finished your book, the hard part is over, right?


Finding a publisher as a debut author can be overwhelming, complicated, and confusing. But it doesn’t have to be!

Our blog will cover everything you need to know about finding the right publisher for your first book.

Edit Before You Submit Your Book

Before even considering submitting your manuscript for publication, you must ensure it is your best work.

At this point, your manuscript should have gone through all the stages of editing and be the best version of itself that you think possible. and edits.

You’ll want to feel confident about your submission, as this represents you as a writer.

If prospective publishers notice too many mechanical errors, they’ll likely reject it, even if your story is good (not because they can’t edit it, but because if their first impression of your work is less than a fully polished manuscript they will move to the next one on the stack…and the stack is high).

To be clear, your manuscript does not have to be perfect—most publishers will edit it anyway if they decide to publish it. But it should not get in its own way. 

Too many typos or poorly written sentences will make an acquisition editor stop reading immediately.

You want a publisher to publish your book, so don’t put any roadblocks in your way.

Explore Your Publishing Options

There are a few different avenues for publishing your first book. You should explore the options of traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing to see which is the best fit for you.

Traditional publishing is dominated by “The Big Five” and is highly competitive.

Under traditional publishing, you will not submit directly to the publishing house; your agent will submit on your behalf.

Self-publishing guarantees that your book will be published as it is self-directed and self-funded.

Hybrid publishing combines self-publishing and traditional publishing, where authors pay a publishing company to produce and market their books.

Read: The Best of Both Worlds—Understanding Hybrid Publishing 

Vet Your Prospective Publisher/Agent

Traditional Publishing

If you choose to go the route of traditional publishing, your job is to query agents. Once you find an agent, that person will pitch to publishers. is a good resource for finding prospective literary agents who may be a good fit.

Querying agents can be a long process with a lot of rejections, but don’t let it discourage you. It’s just part of the business if you want to be represented by an agent.

Hybrid Publishing

While there are numerous great hybrid publishers, unfortunately, there are some illegitimate companies that prey on new writers.

An excellent hybrid publisher should provide all your book’s production and marketing.

Also, ensure that the Alliance of Independent Authors has approved the publisher before you even consider working with them.


If you’re taking the self-publishing route, it’s possible to hire freelancers for every step of the process (editing, cover design, formatting, etc).

You can find reputable freelancers through sites like Upwork and Fiverr.

But take the time to ensure that you thoroughly vet the people you’re hiring and remember that the lowest price does not always mean the best deal. 

Another alternative is to self-publish through a publishing company, but if you choose this path make sure that the publisher is not just taking what you give them and publishing.

They should give you feedback and input on your material, even if you are self-publishing, to help ensure that it is the best it can be.

If you’re interested in self-publishing with this type of support from publishing experts, check out DartFrog’s self-publishing imprint, Canoe Tree Press.  

Follow Submission Guidelines

Whether you’re querying an agent or submitting directly to a publisher, each submission will likely have slightly different requirements.

Take the time to tailor your submission for each and provide all the information they ask for.

Don’t Take Rejections Personally, and Be Open to Feedback

Rejections are inevitable; you’ll have to learn not to take them personally. Getting rejected by a publisher does not necessarily reflect on you as a writer; your story may not align with what the publisher is looking for, or your submissions might be capped.

Another likely outcome is that the publisher will require some developmental edits before considering it publishing-ready.

You should be open to feedback, but if they ask you to overhaul your story and take it in a direction you aren’t comfortable with, remember that you can always say no. 

You’ll have to develop a thick skin and anticipate editing, which will strengthen your story, but you should not settle for a publisher who wants you to change your story so much that it doesn’t feel like yours anymore. 

Go With Your Gut

Hopefully, in time, you’ll receive offers for publication from a few different publishers.

If you’re traditionally publishing, it will be your agent’s job to negotiate and work out the best deal. 

If you’re pursuing hybrid publishing, you should compare each company’s programs and price points to figure out which is the best fit for your book.

Also, request a video call. This is a great way to get a feeling for the publisher. If they don’t have time or don’t do video calls, that’s usually not a good sign.


We hope this blog has answered your questions about finding a publisher for your first book.

We encourage you to explore your options until you discover the best fit for you.

DartFrog offers traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing programs. If you have any questions about our publishing options or want more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!


Q: How do I find a publisher for my first book?

A: There are three primary options for publishing: traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing.

You should first do some online research to determine which option is the best fit for you and your book.

Once you decide which type of publishing you’ll pursue, you can begin exploring the different publishing companies available.

Do your homework and submit your manuscript to the publishers that will best serve you. 

Q: How do I find a real publisher?

A: You’ll want to research the publishers you’re considering submitting your book to before sending off your manuscript.

You should avoid publishers that are selling unrealistic promises.

Another thing to look out for is the other books that they’ve published. They should have a curated collection of titles with authors that can vouch for the company. 

Q: How do I get a publisher?

A: Getting a publisher won’t happen overnight—you’ll need patience!

Make sure you put in the time to research what the best method of publishing is for you, and then narrow down your search to individual publishers.

Q: How do I find a publisher’s name?

A: If you’re looking for the publisher of a book, you should find it on the title page or copyright page.