You believe your manuscript is ready for publication. What kind of publisher do you want to use? There are several different types of publishers, each one with its merits and downfalls.
Commercial publisher - There are ups and downs even when using a legitimate commercial publisher. Probably one of the biggest benefits is that the author pays absolutely nothing upfront to the publisher or agent. That is the way it should be. No author should ever have to pay money to be published. A commercial publisher buys the rights to your book, but you receive royalties.
If you wish to submit to a major commercial publisher, you will need an agent who will receive a percentage of your profits. That is a definite downer. You probably won't need an agent if you submit your book to a commercial publisher that isn't one of the major ones. If your book happens to not do so well on the market, it will be much harder for your next work to be accepted for publication. True, there are overnight successes, but they are rare.
Submitting is not that hard, being accepted is the hard part. Back in the early 1900s, the chances of your work being accepted for publication was much greater than it is today. Persistence and not allowing your feelings to be hurt when your manuscript is rejected is very important to your success.
Vanity publisher - When vanity publishing is used, the author retains all rights to his work and has possession of all printed books to sell however he wants. Sounds great, but the author must pay not only to print and bind the book, but he must also pay a profit for the publisher as well as overhead costs. Even though the author receives all the profit from the sales, the cost to publish your book through a vanity publisher can turn out to be quite expensive.
Vanity publishing can be good, though expensive, if marketing and profit are not a concern - such as in family genealogies or family recipe collections. If, though, you are trying to build a career as a writer, this is definitely not the best choice. Think about it, the publisher has already made their money from the author. They donít really have any more interest in seeing that the books sells.
Although there are honest vanity publishers, many of them are guilty of fraudulent, deceptive practices - some so bad that the people were sentenced to time in jail. Among their crimes were overcharging for services, not holding up to contract obligations, and producing shoddy books.
Subsidy publisher - A subsidy publisher charges the author to print and bind the books. Part of what the author pays is also contributed to editing, marketing and distributing the book. The publisher owns the ISBN and retains the rights to the books until they sell. As with a commercial publisher, the author earns royalties.
Self-publishing - The author pays for everything if he self-publishes, but he also retains the rights to all and keeps all of the profits. Since the author himself will be shopping around for the different services needed, the cost and quality can turn out better than if a vanity publisher is used.
Vanity publishers and subsidy publishers seem to have merged lately. They make a lot of money while the author makes very little from royalties. Instead of paying a bogus publisher - though Iím sure there are a few honest ones - it is much safer to self-publish, even though the author is responsible for all of the costs. There are a small number of authors who self-publish and become an overnight success, but they are few and far between. Your best chance for selling a lot of books is through a commercial publisher.
Donít allow yourself to be scammed or taken advantage of by publishing firms who tell you that you are an awesome writer, you just need to allow them to polish your manusciript - for a fee, of course. Stay away from publishers who guarantee publication of your book before theyíve even seen it. They probably just want to sell you something.
Writerís Market is one of the best places to find legitimate publishers. Hard copies of this large volume are available or they are available online.
Whatever route you decide to go with your book, please investigate it thoroughly before committing to anything, especially if your money is involved. Unless you are self-publishing, or paying a vanity publisher to publish your genealogy or recipe collection, none of your money need be invested.
Below are links to buy Writer's Market 2010 and Writer's Market 2010: Deluxe Edition from Amazon.