Ten Good Ways to Gain a Publisher's Interest



Write an excellent novel and it will sell. Right...

Now here's what we did NOT want to hear. The manuscript-selling process is a matter of marketing. Tough marketing. Top writing quality has to be there, but it's the marketing that sells the banana.

Selling a novel is like trying to sell newspapers to the crew that brings newspapers to your neighborhood every morning. It's darn hard to sell something the buyer already has too much of.

A buyer's market is where the seller is completely at the mercy of the buyer. And - don't kid yourself - book publishers have no shortage of manuscripts, no shortage of new talent. Their problem is high cost to buy, print, distribute, and market a book. And, given limitations of capital, the publisher will almost always choose the "safe" bet, the tried and true, the manuscript where success is easiest to predict.

We all dream of starting out with the Great American Novel. A publisher will read our stuff, recognize our talent, call us and... and... send money too!

Here are some similar dreams.

Reality check: Join The Rest of Us. The ones who have to work to get it done. To get anything done. Especially a published work.

You impress the book publisher when you...

  1. Send a query letter introducing the manuscript in terms of the publisher's existing list, books in the market, expected market share and revenue.

  2.   Send an author's biography describing a successful career in publishing. Your list should include one or two novels and several successful listings in major market magazines. Alternatively, nonfiction titles will also build credibility.

  3.   Send a synopsis, outline, and/or sample chapter of the work. (Do not send the whole enchilada. Be patient. You have to be asked for this.)

  4.   Then, if you've done all of the above, you can pay attention to content. Top content is the sine qua non of this process. Unfortunately, effective content alone will not get it sold. 

  5. If you'd enjoy a little expensive fun, send your manuscript in a limousine with a messenger who will sing your praises to the receptionist upon delivery. (Interesting, and it's been tried, but it's not recommended.)


This is the part we all wanted to skip. The bothersome part. Who wants to deal with all these pesky little, low-paying articles and stories? We do, of course. Because if we don't, the door to the big victories remains closed, locked, and welded. No passa!

You impress the magazine publisher when you... 

  1. Study the editor's publication for content and style, and don't forget to request a copy of the writer's guidelines as well as a schedule describing themes in upcoming months.

  2.   Consider submitting articles that share information from your experience, in areas where you have particular expertise, with publishers of magazines who regularly feature content in that area. Nonfiction is fine, by the way. It gains you a publishing record, and is far more predictable.

  3.   Send a query letter along with the manuscript and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). You don't need a publisher's request to submit your manuscript to a magazine.

  4.   Let the publisher know that, if your article or story is rejected, you would be willing to write another, upon request. If the publisher likes your work, you may become part of the publisher's "stable" of writers. Feels great! But the oats aren't always too good.

  5.   Let the publisher know a recognized expert in a related field looked over your manuscript, and that you have incorporated their suggestions.

Online Publications

If you are having trouble breaking into the magazine market, start here. Online pubishers have far less overhead than do book and magazine publishers, and they permit you to get your work out immediately and (hopefully) get responses from readers so you can improve your work.


We advise restraint with self-published, printed books, for you can throw a lot of money away. If you have no independent means of marketing large numbers of the book (such as your own bookstore chain or an organization or association), you have invested like the politician who pays personally for a losing campaign. Public awareness, yes. Effectiveness,... well, you decide.

Try this... Is it worth $10,000 to feel published. If it's equally worth $10,000 to feel like a skipper, then do that. Because after you're done, you can always sell the boat!

If self-publishing helps you get started on the road to success, we advise you to seek lowest possible cost.Typical POD publishers charge only a few hundred dollars for a book.

Best of luck! 


Bruce L. Cook, Ph.D., Publisher

The AuthorMe.com Group


Click here for information on agenting


Click here for information on query letters


Click here for information on query letter effectiveness