You may be wondering how all this works if your interest is in books and not periodicals. Let me say first that I suggest every writer start with articles—even if your ultimate goal is to move into book writing. Much of what you need to learn about writing and marketing you learn best by writing articles. You polish your writing skills, become familiar with the industry and how it operates, and establish your reputation and credibility as a writer. Once you have done that you’re more likely to be noticed and taken seriously by book publishers who have come to prefer working with established writers.
Now, you can start the same kind of market research you have done with the magazines. Select the topics/types of book you want to target (this may be done one topic at a time as you select a topic for each book). Find the corresponding topical list and go through the same process of elimination. Instead of sample copies, you will want to study their catalogs. Just as a sample copy with give you a clearer picture of what each publication wants, the catalog will help you find the publishers who are most likely to be interested in your book idea. (More on how to study a catalog tomorrow.)