I should probably mention that Jeff Herman and I are not close friends. In point of fact, Jeff Herman doesn't know me from Adam's house cat. Which is a funny sort of thing we say around here that means Jeff Herman and I are complete strangers.
HOWEVER, I am reading his swell book, Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents 2011, and I feel like a kinda know the guy. I mean, I'm on page 515 (out of 1094) and a body gets a feel for things after that many pages.
So, as I'm done with the publishers section, I'll share three things I learned:
1. Many publishers, especially those from the publishing conglomerates (ie. Random House, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster), don't accept unsolicited manuscripts. If you want your manuscript to find a home there, you'll need an agent.
2. The independant U.S. presses are more open to unsolicited manuscripts, but do your research! Check the websites and fine print and follow submission guidelines carefully to maximize your chance at acceptance.
3. University presses offer excellent opportunities for publication if you write non-fiction, particularly if you've written a book with regional appeal. Some presses accept fiction, too. Look into your local college or university to see if your book will fit and follow guidelines. It may be a long process, but these presses are well-respected.
That was about the gist of 500 pages. Not that there wasn't tons more exciting stuff that I learned, but if you want details, you'll just have to get to know Jeff yourself.