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What does a publishing company look for?

by semseogurus

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Book submissions are the lifeblood of any publishing company. After all, without them, you'd not have a business. On the other hand, it's easy to get choked up with ill-prepared, poorly presented and substandard works that either can't be published without a major (and disproportional) expenditure in time and effort or which, in a nutshell, should probably never see the light of day at all. That's the primary objective of a modern publishing company – sorting out the wheat from the chaff.

But how does one summarize exactly what one's looking for in a new book submission apart from a literal compliance with your specification?

Here are four key things which we look for in our capacity as a publishing company:


Any book has an absolute maximum of 2 or 3 paragraphs to capture the imagination of the reader and to make them want to read on. It's a key part of a novel because immediately after the opening section comes the scene setting and the character introductions. That can easily become tedious if the hook isn't strong enough to make you want to plow through it. This is our top publishing company tip – work on that hook.


If you don't care, why should we? If you send in a novel which is peppered with grammar and spelling mistakes (especially when the latter unforgivably relates to real people or places), you're also sending the message that the plot's probably sloppy, too. Apart from the expensive editing work involved in correcting the errors, any publishing company is going to perceive that the whole thing is shoddy.


While it may be intriguing to set a romance in the midst of a world war or to write a comedy about life at a health farm, you should beware of crossing over on genres. Noromance lover is going to want to wade through pages of battle scenes to get to the bit where the beleaguered belle swoons into the arms of her war-weary and wounded beau nor would someone seeking a belly laugh struggle through page after page about toxins, vitamins and aerobics.


Any publishing company worth their salt is going to be on the look-out for star quality. It's hard to put your finger on what constitutes that extra sparkle which turns an OK story into a great one. Such books make an impression on the reader so a fair question to ask yourself (as author) is that if this weren't your book, would you remember it in a year's time? If not, then it almost certainly doesn't have that pizzazz that a publishing company is seeking.

There are plenty more criteria but these are four of the key ones we look for in submissions to our publishing company.

Atul is author of countless articles on a myriad of different topics. He represents Any Subject Books, a book publishing company that offers authors the full range of modern publication, promotion and other ancillary services.

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