Publishing 101 is a course I would like to give to all new writers that have a book in their heads or a manuscript written and don't know what to do with it. There are several questions you have to ask yourself before you hunt down a publisher.
Do you have a children's book or an adult book? Different publishers work with different books.
What is your objective with writing the book? Is it a cozy memoir for just the family. A novel you know will be on the NY times bestseller list.
Does your children's book hold a message the whole world should learn from or is it just for fun.
After you answer these questions you can think about how you want to publish. You have two basic choices. You can go the traditional route. You need to find an agent to represent you. How do you find an agent? You send out a couple hundred query letters and hope that one of them will like to give you book a chance. After you have an agent you have to wait while he shops your wonderful book around to publishers who may or may not think your book is worth their time and money. If you find one, wonderful, terrific, all the best. They take your book and maybe do another edit on it and make all kinds of changes. They pay you an advance of a couple thousand dollars and whoopie, you are a traditionally published author. You get no more money until the publisher makes back your advance. You still have to do a lot of the marketing yourself.
The other choice is self-publishing and it's becoming more and more common. Self-published authors have to be better than their Traditionally published counterparts in order to stand out. Do not go to a publisher off the internet that wants to charge you thousands of dollars and leaves you with a garage full of books you can not sell. Do not pay thousands or even hundreds of dollars to any publisher you have not researched, asked about, and checked out 'publishers and predators' on the internet. Ask your fellow authors how they publish, How much did they have to pay ? What are the royalties like and how often do they get paid? I have heard lots of horror stories from new authors about the money they paid and then the publisher went out of business. I have a friend that paid $20,000 dollars for her book to be published several years ago and still has cartons of unsold books in her garage. Please do your due diligence and think about what you are doing.
I would like to recommend using a micro publishing company similar to mine. They are springing up all over the place. It's usually an author that has learned the ropes the hard way and wants to share that information with new authors. Since they only produce a few books a year, you get individual attention and no question is too small. Contact your local writers organizations and ask if any of their members are publishers. Micro publishers know people in the business and can find you editors, formatters, cover designers. All the things you need to make your book the best it can be.
Some charge by the project, page count, word count, or time spent. I charge by the time actually spent with my fingers working on the computer keys for you. I have terrific editors, illustrators, formatters all working for you and your book.
Another good thing about a Micro publisher is that you are working with another author, Someone that shares your passion. Their reputation rests on the quality of your book.