Writing Personal Essays or Life Stories? Here are some places to start your search for the right audience and/or publisher. Click on the link for more information--save to your favorites if the site looks useful.
WOW: Women on Writing, http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/
Interested in publishing your work yourself?
Balboa Press, www.balboapress.com/
Create Space, https://www.createspace.com/
Amazon Publishing Services or Barnes & Noble Self Publishing
Here are two hybrid publishers (they do some of the work a traditional publisher does, but not all)
Outskirts Press, www.outskirtspress.com
She Writes Press, http://shewritespress.com/
If you prefer a small press, do some research: Type your genre + "small press" into a search engine. Example: Memoir + small press. See what comes up and follow the directions given. Approach small presses on your own if they say it is okay. You need an agent for the larger ones.
If you are seeking an agent who will represent your work to a larger house, type in "agents seeking" + your genre and see what comes up. Example: Agents seeking romance
Another strategy: go to several bookstores. Find where your book would be shelved. Look in the acknowledgements section of the books there to see who has represented work in your genre and query those agents. Tell them how you learned about them.
There are resources listed quarterly at Writer Advice. Go to http://www.writeradvice.com/cm2. Or go to www.writeradvice.com and click on Contests & Markets. While you are there, go to the home page, www.writeradvice.com, to find out about our current contest. We are known for our sound and solid feedback.
Additional Places Calling for Submissions & Giving Advice:
69 Poetry Contests That Pay Really Well, http://www.ardorlitmag.com/poetry-contests.html
Duotrope, https://duotrope.com/ (You need to become a member)
Funds for Writers, http://fundsforwriters.com/
New Pages, http://www.newpages.com/
No Fee Chapbook Publishers, https://trishhopkinson.com/2015/02/19/no-fee-chapbook-publishers-and-other-chapbook-listings/
Poets & Writers Classifieds, http://www.pw.org/classifieds
Writer Advice, http://www.writeradvice.com/cm2
Writer's Digest, http://www.writersdigest.com/submission-guidelines
The Writer, http://www.writermag.com/
In case it sounds too good to be true, here are a couple of watchdogs:
This one gives advice about which editors, agents, and publishers to avoid: http://critters.org/c/pubtips.ht
This one warns which Contests & Services to avoid and gives good reasons: https://winningwriters.com/the-best-free-literary-contests/contests-to-avoid
When in doubt, use your best judgment. Weigh the benefits against the cost. Read contracts carefully. Remember that the publishing world is evolving.
B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice . She's written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers (Tate Publishing) and Talent (Eternal Press). Goodwin's work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers; Hip Mama; Small Press Review; Dramatics Magazine; The Sun; GoodHousekeeping.com; PurpleClover.com; and elsewhere. She is working on a memoir about getting married for the first time at 62.