Who are publishers that do not require payment up front before my book is published?
There are a number of traditional publishers out there willing to take chances on authors; it just takes time to find them.
First, if you are looking for one of the big publishers to have interest in your work, you will need to make sure it is polished beyond question. That means spending money to get good, reliable, authentic editors to go over it. This will cost you around $3,000.
Second, you will need to find an agent who you are comfortable with. Once they have been found, you may face even more rewrites are needed to get the work to a professional level.
Third, your agent will find one or more (hopefully more) of the big publishers interested in the work and have them bid for it.
Fourth, your agent will inform you of the works acceptance and more rewrites may be ordered from the publisher. At this point, you are given an advance on sales.
It should be noted, for I have seen posts about this in the past with incorrect information, an advance is just that, an advance. The royalties generated from the sale first pay off the advance (so you may not see money for a little while after the advance). Once the advance is paid off, you get your royalties at the negotiated rate. If the book sales do not overcome the advance within a year, you will be expected to pay back what is left (including the commission your agent gets, but you’ll never see it out of their pocket). So, if you get an advance of $10,000 and the book tanks, giving you only $2,000 in royalties, you’ll be expected to pay back $8,000, even if you only say $7,000 of the advance because of your agent.
Small or Micro-Press Publishers are where most first time authors land. These companies are more willing to take chances on the unknown or midstream author. They do not offer advances. Is this fair? Sure, they are small with not as much liquidity as the larger names. It comes down to what your comfort level.
The small publishers are more apt to take manuscripts that need work. In fact, my small publishing company runs several edits and rewrites with the authors they sign. No advances, but you are not expected to pay for anything unless you want a stock of your books, and even then you get them at a good discount. Don’t look at the $1.50 for cost of printing, most small publishers are POD (Print on Demand) for they cannot afford to have 10,000 books on stock at any one time.
Keep in mind that most small publishers pay quarterly, not yearly, and do a lot of leg work to sell books to the public.