People often ask me how I chose my publisher(s). Why, indeed? Why didn’t I choose Knopf or Random House or one of those other fancy New York houses? This question implies that it’s a seller’s market out there, that I could have had my pick of publishers, but it doesn’t really work that way unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.
A better question might be “Why did you decide to submit your manuscript to Publisher X?” That one I can answer. My agent sold my novel to Leapfrog Press, but I submitted my other books myself after having a look at the other books they published, and how they published them. Stone Bridge Press was an obvious choice for my first anthology, a collection of fiction by expatriates in Japan. They are good are marketing in their niche, and their books are always beautifully produced. Plus, they’ve published books by other writers I admire.
Beacon Press, on the other hand, has a reputation for publishing books with a social conciousness. They’ve published books concerning special needs and several anthologies, and also quite a bit of poetry. Since my anthology, Love You to Pieces includes a number of poems, I was keen to find a publisher that wasn’t afraid of poetry. Also, I’d read some of Beacon’s books, and I knew that they were widely reviewed and have received many awards. I have the utmost respect for what they do. But make no mistake: Beacon chose my book, not the other way around.
If you’re a writer looking for a publisher, my advice is to do some research. Check out various publishers’ catalogs, read some of their books, try to find out how those books were marketed. And then find an agent, and/or submit, submit, submit.