5 Tips To Understanding What Publishers Want

Quick! What are the most popular book genres for 2022? If you’re a writer, it’s crucial to learn what’s hot in the literary world. I remember when I first started writing. I had a story loosely based on my husband’s experience in foster care. The short story was published in the prestigious Trillium Literary Journal, and I was over the moon. This gave me the confidence to turn that small piece into an entire novel.

When I finally got the nerve to pitch my novel to a few publishers and literary agents, I received a chorus of “no,” “no thanks,” and the dreaded no response. The feedback, if any, I received was it wasn’t a good fit. One publisher even told me, “It’s a good story, but I don’t know what to do with it.” Perhaps my Christian characters juxtaposed to the detestable foul-mouthed antagonist would be hard to sell. Or maybe it was just a “nice” story, but nothing remarkable.

Still, I wasn’t 100% sure what “not a good fit” meant. So, I researched this topic heavily online and attended writing conferences just so I could pitch my manuscript and finally understand what would be considered “a good fit.” I learned that all publishers have a specific type of book they want to publish, which brings me to the first tip.

Tip 1: You have to know to whom you are pitching.

The best way to do this is to visit the publisher’s website and analyze the type of books they publish. Examine the following:

  • Subject matter
  • Target audience
  • Themes
  • Writing style
  • Book covers

Does your book fit in?

Tip 2: If you are a minority author, make sure the publishing company is diverse.

Visit the publisher’s website and check out their current authors. Do they all look the same? Do they publish primarily male or female authors? What is the average age? (side note: Many publishers are looking to diversify. Don’t be afraid to take a chance on submitting, even if the publisher, historically, was not as inclusive.)

Tip 4: Take an objective look at your writing.

Publishers want to know you understand the publishing industry. Step back and with a critical eye, ask yourself the following:

  • Is my book marketable, and will it sell widely?
  • Is my book original? Do I offer a unique perspective?
  • Do I have a clear target audience, and who do I envision reading my book? (Hint: It’s not everyone.)
  • Have I written an effective query letter? (If you’re unfamiliar with this, we can help.)
  • Is my work memorable, and does it stand out from the crowd?
  • Is my submission professional?
  • Are you prepared to write more books?

Tip 4: Do not send an unedited submission to a publisher.

Editors want to see a professionally edited manuscript. Sending an unedited manuscript to a publisher is the quickest way to land your submission in the trash (literally and digitally). A professional editor will check for problems, such as plot holes, continuity issues, grammatical errors, and unclear writing?

Tip 5: There is no guarantee.

Publishers only select a limited number of new authors So, even if you have all your ducks in a row, there’s no guarantee you will receive a contract from a traditional publisher like Simon & Schuster or Harper Collins. Still, at least you’ll know your manuscript will not be rejected due to fixable issues. If you are selected… Hurray! Realize it may take up to a year for your work to hit the bookshelves. In the meantime, start writing that second book. Remember, we are always available to make your words shine and help you with your authorship journey.

We have more to share! Click here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: