What Do Publishers Want? 3 Tips for New Authors

You may be a first time writer with all the passion in the world to tell the stories you’ve had bottled up inside you. But, if you aren’t in tune with what is appealing to book publishing professionals, you risk losing your chance at that publishing contract you’ve long dreamed of.

Sounds cruel, I know. But, think of it from the publishers’ point of view: Publishing is a business, and that means your book has to make money.

3 Things Publishers Look For in Authors:

1. Fresh, captivating writing.

If your writing doesn’t captivate, it won’t be a bestseller. Publishers know that readers love to get lost in a wonderful story, and that good writing is the foundation to that experience.

If you fear your writing isn’t up to snuff, I encourage you to work on your craft. Invest in writing classes, or hire a writing coach, where you’ll get focused attention and invaluable feedback. By committing yourself to the craft of writing, you put yourself on the path to writing a great story worth reading.

2. A unique premise — or a unique take on an old premise.

Publishers have read it all — really. For every book you see on the bookshelf (and, how many vampire books are out there, right?), imagine a bazillion more that didn’t make it past a publisher’s desk. The reason for their rejection? They were the same old “Guy falls in love with girl and changes for the better” story, or was in the hackneyed “vampire romance” genre.

Ask yourself how you can add another dimension to your tale that makes it unquestionably different from other stories. Have you heard of the hilarious book, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? That’s a great example of taking not one, but two genres and turning them on their heads in a completely original way. You may want to hit the bookstores for help with your book.

3. Someone who doesn’t come off as an amateur — even though he or she may be one.

Remember how publishers are businesspeople? It’s important to present yourself professionally — not in any way that may make publishers question that you’re worth their time, money and effort. There are a few ways you can come off as someone a publisher rather wouldn’t work with, such as stamping a giant “COPYRIGHT!” watermark on all of your pages.

This blog post was adapted from my Special Report: 50 Ways to Stay Out of The Rejection Pile, my gift to you for signing up for my bi-weekly newsletter.


5 comments on “What Do Publishers Want? 3 Tips for New Authors

  • Remind me NOT to read something like this DURING the writing of my book — but before! Seriously now, this is a great post. #3 is so easy to do, but sounds like a big no-no if you forget about it. Now I’m just stressing out over if my idea isn’t big enough, nor my writing fresh enough. EEK! Oh well. As you say, this is all part of the pesky process. Thanks.

  • You’ve summed up the whole publishing world masterfully. It IS a business. I think some authors do need to toughen up and realize that, as so many authors I know sit on their story and hope.

  • Is it possible I could make a living as an author? Can authors get hired, because I don’t feel comfortable working freelance.

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