If you are a new or aspiring writer you need to spend a lot of time exploring potential markets. The age-old question of whether to have an agent is always at the forefront however, it can be challenging for a new author to find an agent and/or a publisher. Certainly, there are benefits to having an agent but the good news is that you can get published without an agent. There are tons of resources online and in bookstores about agents and publishers so you need to spend time exploring.
Today I’m going to focus on finding a publisher. If you don’t have an agent you need to search for publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts for your genre. It’s a good idea to create a list of potential publishers for your manuscript. You need to decide if you want a traditional publisher (no costs with possible advance and royalties, hybrid publisher (shared costs with possibly higher royalties), or self-publisher (you pay for everything but basically keep your earnings). Be sure to check guidelines and if they accept emails or snail mail submissions. Some publishers prefer exclusive submissions and others are fine if you are submitting elsewhere they just request that you notify them. The review process can take on average 3-6 months and you may receive a form letter, no letter, or less often a rejection with some comments. If you’re lucky you may receive an acceptance. Most likely revisions will be required and I strongly urge you to revise your manuscript as the publishers have their fingers on the pulse and know the markets. Of course, if you feel strongly about a particular part you can discuss this with the editor or publisher.
A word of caution if you are submitting to a traditional publisher or an agent you should never be asked to pay for services.