Common and Deadly Mistakes in Book Publishing


Image by Derek Gavey

It’s only natural that a writer who’s immensely proud of the book they’ve just written would want to begin the process of getting published immediately. But be careful – this is usually the surest way to land your book in the rejected pile and that, as they say, is the end of that.

Publishers and agents report seeing a significant increase in submissions received at the start of December, right after National Novel Writing Month finishes – and these submissions are rarely, if ever, successful, because they’re usually unedited first drafts. For a successful outcome for your book, you need external input, editing, resilience and research.

Seeking the opinions of others is important because no matter what, you are going to be biased as the author. You may think you have the best book ever on your hands, but frankly, it doesn’t matter if you think that no one else agrees.

There’s no point in a book being published and a publisher printing 50,000 copies, only for them to sit in a warehouse for months before being pulped. New authors have a tendency to assume that getting a book published is easy, when in fact it’s arduous, messy and difficult – but hopefully rewarding at the end. It is not advisable to navigate the world of publishing alone, which is why you should research and query agents who can represent you and will know much more about the industry than you do. Your book could also benefit from the services of an editor, and certainly will if you are being seriously considered by a publishing house. If you’re self-publishing, you should definitely get a freelance editor.

Resilience is crucial for a wannabe published author. You are going to be rejected time and time again no matter how good you are – JK Rowling was rejected by twelve publishing houses, then went onto to set four records for the fastest-selling books ever. Rejection hurts, so you have to find a way to separate your identity from the acceptance or rejection of your book.

Finally, you absolutely must do your research. Today, you are expected to have access to the internet and to have done intensive research on potential publishers, agents and on the market for your book. There is no excuse not to. If you don’t have an agent, do not submit your manuscript to a publishing house that insists on agents and clearly does not accept unsolicited submissions. It’s just a waste of time. If the publisher has a specialty, find out what it is. There’s no point sending a fantasy novel to a publishing house for cosy mysteries.


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