Book Update: Submissions and Rejections

I’ve seen a lot of online and printed advice indicating that a prospective author should not pester a publisher about his/her submission because the backlog on publishing is often long–like anywhere from two to six months. It was in that spirit that I sent off my book proposal to a potential publisher in December, vowing not to harass or irritate a potential publisher. Well, it’s been nearly six months since that submission and, as the post title gives away, I finally got a polite rejection after querying the publisher. What happens next?

Considering the Whys of a Rejection

The good news about a long-delayed response is that I didn’t have the burning excitement of being published high on my list of things to worry about six months later. The primary reason for the rejection was simply that my potential reader market was considered too small a niche for the publisher in question. The company focuses on leadership books, and I suppose while it has the perspective of someone who’s succeeding in the field of tech writing, it wasn’t exactly something you’d find on the shelf next to Tim Ferriss or Seth Godin.

Okay, fair enough. Now what?

Refocusing and Refining the Proposal

I’m reconsidering where I target my book for publication. The next obvious target might be Allyn & Bacon, who published most of the books I read when I was getting my M.A. in tech writing. However, a few things are coming to my attention:

  • My tone is a tad informal for a textbook, college or otherwise.
  • Textbooks are often solicited by the publisher, not queried by the author(s)
  • Allyn & Bacon doesn’t even show up in the Writer’s Market.

This is not to say the work is unsellable, even to Allyn & Bacon. It just means I have to put in a bit more work. You might ask why I didn’t submit to Allyn & Bacon in the first place. Part of that was a comment by a former professor, who suggested I look elsewhere first. Partly I was looking at a company that was publishing business books that were closer to my focus but it was bought by a larger organization with slightly different priorities.

Another option would be to reconsider the  self-publishing option, which is faster but requires more work on my part.

While I’m reconsidering my potential places of publication, I also realize I have a bit more background work to do on competitive analysis: not just list which books might compete with mine, but explain why my text would be different/better.

Anyhow, I have work to do. If any of you have managed to get a nonfiction book published, your insights would be appreciated.

About Bart Leahy

Freelance Technical Writer, Science Cheerleader Event & Membership Director, and an all-around nice guy. Here to help.
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