Here I post about all things fantasy and give tips on writing a book based on my experience. My three main books form a trilogy called the Prophecy of the Kings, a Gold Award Winning book, and I've also written Drachar's Demons. Happy to chat so please feel free to comment on any of my blogs. Good reading - David
I will write an article about self-publishing as a route later, as that is my experience, however, I think getting published should be your main priority. If I have made a mistake it was in not exploring all the small publishers. I bought writers_and_artists_yearbook and at the time (1998) I found that there were very few fantasy publishers. I should have persisted and contacted the smaller press.
It is also recommended that you find a literary agent. Again, this aught to be your first port of call. The key is to have an information pack to send off that contains a synopsis and sample chapters (usually the first three chapters). See the pitfalls below before doing this though! Both publishers and literary agents usually request that you include a self-addressed envelope as well so they can return the information and include a reply.
This can be a very difficult process, but stick with it. If you have followed my guidance of starting with short stories for reasons laid out in Writing a Book - How to Start, this should give you confidence that your writing is good and appropriate to submit. Keep trying therefore. J K Rowling was turned down by many publishers/agents who must regret now not taking time to consider her work more thoroughly. When I went through this process I had the nagging feeling that publishers simply transferred my synopsis etc. from one envelope to another without reading it. That publishers etc. turned down J K Rowling perhaps reflects this view. This is a very frustrating process.
The reason for going through a publisher is the level of expertise, otherwise you will need to pay for a book editor, copy editor and front cover artwork. All of which is fraught with difficulties. I have read some very good self-published books, written to a very high standard and that are very professional, and yet many still contain errors. The publishing route, unless you are very lucky, is the most professional route. There are also a lot of people claiming to be experts at editing and you have little or no way of knowing whether this is true. Fortunately, I have had some good experiences as well as some bad ones.
I would suggest writing to both literary agents and publishers at the same time, as this is a long process. Check their websites and check that what they want from you. You need to follow their submission guidance, otherwise they will not consider your work. Their guidance can be very prescriptive so be careful to follow it. An example her is Random House. This is not perhaps the best example as they request that you go via a literary agent, however, that knowledge saves you and them time and money. Avoid having one pack of information to send to everyone. You must vary the information in line with the requirements.
Where to find a publisher or literary agent? The Writers and Artists Yearbook is a good start point although it is updated annually and so you can quickly be out of date. The Internet is a good source of information. Just type Book Publishers to see an extensive list. Fine tune this with your genre (eg Fantasy Book Publishers) and you will get a more realistic list. You can also see who published books that you enjoy by looking in the inside front cover.
I hope this information is useful to you and best wishes. David