Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Top Seven Reasons Publishers Reject Nonfiction Book Proposals

Publishers and acquisitions editors weigh in to explain why some book proposals and manuscripts are simply do not make it into serious consideration. Avoid these and your manuscript has a real chance of acceptance.

1. Proposal is weak – The proposal doesn’t make a strong case for why this topic and this author is likely to make a profitable book.

2. Nothing new – The approach to this topic doesn’t differentiate itself enough to rise above the other books already available.

3. Author/audience connection not made – Author’s platform is not developed enough to show the author would be a viable salesperson – the database is too small or there is no direct reach such as a speaking schedule or a well-read blog or newsletter.

4. Writing not polished or compelling – The sample chapters weren’t ready for prime time – extensive use of passive voice, excessive use of exclamation points or all caps, no statistics, stories or examples.

5. Not right for the publisher – Either this is not a market the publisher is currently in or the editor/publisher isn’t convinced that he or she wants to jump into this market with this book.

6. Author wrote a journal – The book was written for and about the author, not an identified audience. Personal life stories, in general, are not commercially viable unless you are a famous person or have done or lived through something extraordinary or of significance (made it to the top of Mt. Everest, survived a shipwreck, not just making it through a rough childhood).

7. Unsolicited manuscript – There is no personal connection between the editor/publisher and the author that would make the editor give the proposal more than a quick once over.

Get help with your book proposal. Have a number of people who have been through the process read it and help you make sure it meets all the criteria. Polish it and polish it until you make the best case you can for the publisher to seriously consider making an investment of time and money in you and your book.

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