People sometimes ask me how I found the publishers of my non-fiction books. In recent years, I've had two publishers: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, which now is part of Hachette, and Pearson.
In both cases, the process was the same: I asked.
I sent Nicholas Brealey a query letter, he invited me to meet him here in London, and he published my two Writing books, Your Writing Coach, and Your Creative Writing Masterclass. It was a very personal process and a real pleasure to work with Nick and his staff. After selling his company to Hachette, he stayed on as a consultant for a year but now is leaving. I'm not sure what adventures he has planned next, but I hope our paths will cross again.
In the case of Pearson, I noticed a small article indicating they were starting a new line of business/personal development books. It mentioned the name of the editor, so I got in touch with her and briefly described a book I had in mind. Again, that led to a meeting here in London. They wanted a slightly different direction so I adjusted my outline, and they published Focus: use the power of targeted thinking to get more done. It was selected as the W. H. Smith Business Book of the Month and sold very well. It now has more than a dozen foreign editions.
Pearson asked me whether I'd be interested in writing Marketing for Entrepreneurs and also doing cartoon illustrations for a line of the other books in that series. Unfortunately, those books came out just as the economy went into a tailspin and I got the feeling that Pearson never put their full weight behind the books.
However, they were also receptive to my pitch for a book I'd been thinking about for a long time, Creativity Now, and published it in a very nice color edition with glossy paper. That one now exists in a number of foreign editions as well.
At Pearson there was a lot of turnover during the few years I worked with them, and maternity leaves played a big role. They were all pleasant to work with, but I missed having one consistent point of contact.
Anyway, the moral of the story: Ask. They may say no, but if you don't ask, they can't say yes.