You've jacked, full of adrenaline! You've just pumped out the Great American Novel in one month, because you're a NaNoWriMoNaut. Now what? How do you go from manuscript to book in hand?
If you believe the manuscript is in salable form right now,
you can try for an agent or commercial publisher. Typically, before a book goes this route, the author (or in this case, the editor [you]) will thoroughly edit the project, often getting assistance from outside or even professional readers. Then the author
will often get feedback on the finished product. This feedback should be from sources other than friends and family.
Once the project is the best it can be based on feedback and edits, then you look for an agent or commercial publisher. Some commercial
publishers accept unagented work, some do not. You can find publishers that may be a good match by using Writer's Market, a reference source that is available in most public libraries and can be purchased at many book stores. Usually a publisher will want
to see your first 1-3 chapters, a synopsis and a marketing plan. However, refer to the publisher's guidelines. Writer's Market and other sources can help you put together a synopsis, effective cover letter, and possibly a marketing plan. (Publishers will want
you to take an active role in making sure the book sells.)
Some choose to get an agent. Agents are very picky about the projects they take on. They must believe the book will sell big. In that respect, they're as picky as publishers. Agents will charge
you only for incidental fees (postage, photocopying). They make their money off of selling your work. Standard commission is 15%.
If the project has a very small niche audience or is a pet project that friends and family might enjoy but would have limited
appeal beyond that, or if you don't have the patience for the world of commercial publishing, you can always self-publish. Stay away from vanity presses like iUniverse, Xlibris, AuthorHouse. Instead, try a low overhead printer like CreateSpace. You do all
the set-up work, but your final book cost for a professional-looking product will be about $3.50 per book, and there's no minimum number to order. If you want larger runs with hard cover, consider InstantPublisher.