Suppose you've written a book about knitting. There's no point trying to sell it to a publisher of military history. Similarly there's no point querying a poetry publisher about a science fiction novel. These are extreme examples but they illustrate the fact that, if you're trying to get a manuscript published, it's important to approach suitable publishers. Here are suggestions for identifying possibilities.
1. Look at books similar to yours in libraries, bookstores, etc. Notice who publishes what.
2. Consult directories of publishers. They include names of contact persons and the types of writing published.
3. Study publishers' web sites.
4. Look at publishers' catalogs online and/or in print. If you write to them, they may send you a catalog. You may see where your writing could fit in. For example if an educational publisher has just published anthologies [readers] for grades two and three, chances are good that anthologies for grades four and five are being prepared. Something you've written may fit in.
5. Join authors' associations. Market information is often shared formally and informally in such associations. Often they have newsletters and/or e-mail groups.
Some associations are specialized; for example, romance writers, science writers, outdoor writers, history writers.
6. If possible, attend writers' conferences, book fairs, educators' conferences. These help provide up-to-date information on what is being published and how your writing might fit in. You may meet editors there. Sales representatives can also be useful contacts. Information about writers' conferences can be found at www.shawguides.com.