Going the traditionally publisher route is not necessarily a choice for an author; although one can choose to seek a publisher, it is the publishing houses that ultimately make the decision. The process is difficult and time consuming, but having your book with a publishing house has many advantages. Publishers typically have formal relationships with distributors and assist the author in marketing. A publisher must offer distributors and retailers a discount to sell your work, a factor even if self-publishing, which can range from between 40-60% of the retail price. Taken into account printing and administration costs, publishers will typically offer between 8-13% royalty rates of net sales to the author. The era of advances to authors is all but gone. In reality, neither the publisher nor author makes a large amount on each book; it is therefore volume of sales that are important. As the publisher is investing their resources in the work and require volume sales to make accepting the work profitable, they will typically take control of cover art, formatting style, fonts etc. with little or no input from the author. In the end, the author and publisher share the same goal: sell as many copies as possible. The overwhelming majority of those who try and publish their work with a publishing house do not succeed as publishers have many considerations for accepting works. Among these are market trends, backlog, and marketability. Therefore a rejection is not a referendum on the quality of your work.
Most, but not all, publishing houses only accept works for consideration from literary agents. These agents take on authors after reading their work and actively ‘sell’ it to the appropriate publishing houses. Researching a suitable agent to approach is critical as they typically specialize in one or two genres, and with many agents to choose from you can discover those that have a comfortable fit. Of course literary agents get paid, which is usually a royalty percentage from sales. Each agent will require specific material for your application that will typically include a submission letter, a synopsis, and a portion of your work to review. It is critical that you use the research about an agent to tailor your application materials to them. Lafayette & Greene can assist you in this effort by copy editing your submission materials to ensure you present a professional appearance.