Self-publishing can be frustrating on a number of levels, including when it comes to receiving marketing support, which unfortunately often falls short of what is advertised.
As you go forth in your search for the right publisher, here are a few bits of general advice we give our authors.
Most large publishers only accept manuscripts from agents, so you may consider soliciting them before exploring a direct relationship with a publisher.
Between traditional publishing and self-publishing, there is a middle tier of publishers (sometimes called “vanity presses”) which often publish an expansive array of books. However, rather than getting paid an advance on royalties, you usually have to pay them for the privilege to publish your work and marketing support can still be quite weak if they don’t believe in the book.
Most publishers and agents expect to receive a book proposal from authors. This document is a lot like a business plan for the book, and it showcases the merits of your book. It should describe your platform as an author (what you’ve published, what you bring to the audience in terms of appeal, etc.), outline the marketing plan and competitive landscape for the book, and should include sample chapters of the book itself. Samples of these can be found across the web. One helpful sample can be found here.
Finally, when looking at small and middle-sized publishers, you’ll probably want to cater your proposal and query letter (proposal cover letter, essentially) to their catalogs and publishing history. Like any partnership, the more they see you as understanding their business, the more likely they are to give your proposal a serious look.