There are a lot more publishers around than there were when I was writing in the 60's and 70's. When I came back to writing a few years ago, I intended to try Mills and Boon/Harlequin again because they'd published me in the past. However, some preliminary reading of their current novels quickly revealed that my kind of stories didn't really fit their 'formula-driven' novels. Therefore I wasn't at all surprised when they rejected my first book (after keeping me waiting for 10 months!).
When I started to look around for alternatives, I was amazed at just how many there are out there. Of course, in the 60's and 70's pre-internet days, submission to an American publisher was out of the question because of the high mailing costs. I soon discovered, however, that there was a mass of American publishers who didn't insist on agent submissions only.
I narrowed my options down to half a dozen publishers and in the end decided on Whiskey Creek Press because (a)my friend Margaret writes for them and has always found them good to work for and (b)they asked for the whole manuscript right from the start, not just a query letter and synopsis or the first three chapters. Although I accept that a synopsis and sample chapters can give an editor an idea of the story and also of the standard of writing, I'd rather someone read my whole story, not just a part of it. Purely a personal preference, I know but to me it's similar, for example, to appointing someone as a teacher purely on the basis of how well they perform in an interview. Seeing only a part of something isn't as good as seeing the whole thing IMO.