March 21

There’s No Secret Shortcut

I was sent an email a while ago by a local author who wanted us to look at his manuscript. When I sent him our submission guidelines, he wrote back to say that he did not have time to follow the “routine way” of submitting a manuscript, but wanted me to come to his office (I don’t remember where it was, probably half an hour  or more from my location) and let him show me what he had to offer.

Even if I had the time to mosey on over to his office, reading his manuscript would not have told me everything I needed to know about the book. I would like to have a short synopsis of the book and an outline of the chapters, because if I like the book, I have to turn around and sell it to a committee of people who haven’t got time to read an entire manuscript (like I do?). I’d like a little biographical information on this author. (If he’s an axe murderer, it could really put a crimp in the sales of the book!) I’d like to know how the author envisions this book; we may be thinking of a paperback and he may be thinking of a hardcover gift book with a ribbon  bookmark. I’d like to know what other books are out there that might be similar (I may be competing with too many other books on the one hand, or I may be breaking new publishing ground on the other). And I’d like to know what he plans to do to help promote the book. In short, I want a complete proposal.

But our would-be author friend could not be bothered to prepare a complete proposal. He wanted to bypass the normal method of submission because he considered himself too important to do it. He’s obviously someone who is going to be hard to work with.

This why so many publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Most unsolicited material is by people who can’t write, don’t know the markets, and refuse to learn. Does that sound jaded? If it does consider that while my publishing house still looks at unsolicited manuscripts, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of unsolicited authors in the last five years that we have published.

Like most editors I know, I am continually having people call me, write me or email me, wanting to know the “secret shortcut” to getting published. There isn’t one! Finding a publisher for your manuscript is a lot of work, but it can be done. Hang in there and don’t get discouraged.

Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Posted March 21, 2011 by Dave Fessenden in category "4. Book Proposal", "8. Contract


  1. By Bart on

    It is very difficult to find advised persons within this matter, nevertheless, you seem like you understand what you are referring to! Bless you

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