5 Thoughts Your Publisher Has When Reading Your Manuscript

We hear a lot about what WE should try to do when working towards publishing a book.  The steps are laid out for us, and although each one is lengthy in completion, we can generally figure out some type of process towards the progress we want.

However, do you ever wonder what’s going on inside the publisher’s head?  What are they thinking and looking for?  Is it true that they really get hundreds or even thousands of proposals a week?  Is your book stressing them out?  Are you wasting their time?  What is their process, and what steps do they take in publishing your book?  Well, I think it’s time that we talked about the answers to these questions.  Here is a list with the ten basics behind what a publisher is thinking, wanting, and planning.  Read on to find out what they are REALLY thinking.


1. “This book better bring in some cash”

Yes, one of the first things your publisher thinks about is money.  Publishers want to bring in revenue, not only because they obviously need money, but also because it is, after all, the objective.  While publishing a book just to say that you did is nice, your publisher wants to make money off you’re book, and you should want to as well.  Make sure you present your publisher with a manuscript that you believe will sell, and be working on your promotion plans and writing platform way before you even think of attempting to publish.  Also, make sure that you present your publisher a clear objective of the goals you have and of the actions you plan on taking in order to reach them.  Publishers are people that like objectives and small tasks that work towards a larger goal.  Pursue this.

2.  “Okay, let’s see how many mistakes this manuscript has”

You will never meet a pickier editor than a publisher.  While they are not going to proofread and fix your manuscript, they will pick up on nearly every error they see, and each one will make a tick mark in their brain that adds to the list of reasons they don’t want to publish your book.  Don’t let this happen.  Yes editing sucks.  Yes, rewriting also sucks.  Do it anyway.  Read your manuscript out loud, re-read your sentences multiple times, read your manuscript to others, and invest in a good editor.  Putting in all of this effort may seem time consuming and worthless especially before you even know if you’ll be published in the end.  However, turning in a low quality manuscript that contains mistakes will guarantee your book’s rejection, and you won’t fair very well with your publisher.  Don’t let grammar, spelling, and the nitty, gritty details get in the way of your amazing story being put on shelves.

3. “WHO is Going to Read This?”

Publishers think a lot about audience and a lot about categorization.  This is why you will never see a book without a genre, or an advertisement without an intended group of viewers.  Publishers, although they will end up leaving most of the marketing up to you, want to make sure that they can identify a group of individuals that will appreciate your work.  They will also want to do a background check to see how similar-categorized books have sold, so you may want to do this also.  As you write, you should also be thinking about your audience, as this is important when creating a compelling story that others will want to read.  Also, be careful not to over stereotype.  Make sure to incorporate multiple elements of genre into your writing so that you don’t get stuck in your plot.

4. “Will this person be successful as an author?”

Next, your publisher is going to look at you.  Yes, you.  There are multiple aspects to this, and each publisher will do it a bit differently.  In general, most publishers want to know that they would be working with a professional individual that has a strong writing platform and marketing plan in place.  They also want to see that you have plans for the future of your book, and that you will work to promote it.  So, you will want to show them all of this.  Aside from having a strong writing platform set up, make sure you plan out several ways that you can promote your book and that you can actually make each one happen.  Many writers come up with complex promotional plans that end up not being feasible in the end.  Before presenting your ideas to a publisher, try testing them on friends and family.  Testing promotional plans on people is a sure way to get a feel for how they will respond (just make sure to test your plans out on skeptics as well as fans…challenge yourself).  Also, always make sure to be completely professional in every interaction you have with your publisher.  They will pick up on a lazy, half-hearted, or unintelligent attitude very quickly.  Show them confidence, professionalism, and a strong work ethic instead.

5.  “Is this story unique?”

Publishers don’t want white noise.  As much as it can help to loosely follow genre trends or lightly (and I mean very lightly) mimic successful authors within your genre, you also want your book to standout.  As cliché as it sounds, publishers do want something that is fresh, unique, and new, and if you can bring that to your publisher the first time around, you will be ahead.  This doesn’t mean you need to band your head against a wall until you think of something no one else has ever thought about before, it does mean that you need to stay true to your own voice and not over-focus your efforts on trying to fit a specific writing style.  If fantasy books are in right now, and you write fantasy great.  If romance is topping charts and you’re currently writing a romantic novel, awesome.  Whatever genre you are writing, just be sure that you try to stray from the average norm in content, plot, and writing style.  Publishers want you to write YOUR best not someone else’s that may have heard before.  Be yourself when your write and create your own masterpiece.  Not only will a great idea and story be impressive to your publisher, but you will also come across as a stronger and more professional writer if you come up with your own ideas and stand apart of the crowd.


***That’s it!  Thanks so much for reading guys!  I really appreciate you all and your continual support of Author’s Canvas!  As always, I don’t know everything, so I’m going to go ahead and post some links below that I found insightful when learning about publishers and what they want in a manuscript.  Feel free to check them out, and to post in the comments what you thought of them or this post!  I also would love to hear your own experience with manuscripts and/or publishers so please add in your input!***



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Six Things To Do Before Writing Your Manuscript

What Publishers HATE

What Are Publishers Looking For In Your Manuscript





26 thoughts on “5 Thoughts Your Publisher Has When Reading Your Manuscript

  1. I think the trick is, as a writer, is not to get yourself tied up in knots over all the little things a publisher looks for. Focus on the positive and keep on writing every day. You’ll get there one day.


  2. This was insightful. I have written my memoir and sent query proposal to around 14 publishers/agents. I have made a synopsis for each chapter and put it online. I have started a blog in my pseudonym. Am I on the right track and could I improve on my actions so far?


  3. Great article and thanks for mentioning my list of editors article. That article took months to prepare and test all the different editors out there. I still keep it up to date as well.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much! I have been doing a lot of research on blog improvement recently because I am trying to make some of my own improvements and it was requested by a few followers. The majority of this list was inspired by research and by a few WordPress blogs that I frequently look to for advice. Glad you found it enjoyable!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Your write ups really are giving a lot of insights to me as an aspiring (read sweating) writer. They surely are lifting the veil from the associated enigma connected with various aspects of being a writer. Thanks😊

    PS: Can I request you to have a look at the thriller series I’ve started on my blog? Your frank views will help in assessing and improving the quality of my writings.

    Liked by 1 person

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