< back to full list of articles
Fishing For the Next Big Book

or Article Tags


by Don Stevens —

big bookSearching for the right manuscript to publish can be frustrating and can lead to many rejected queries. Similar to fisherman, publishers research where the best fish are, cast their poles, and wait- a process that ultimately leaves many publishers jaded. Here’s some advice you can use when fishing for your next big book.

Think Positive

I approach each new submission with a positive attitude. After some research on the book and its audience, I decide if it would be a good fit for us. Then I read the manuscript or sample chapters with a clear head (sometimes I brew a fresh pot of coffee), and try to enjoy it as a reader would. I try not to pay attention to minor errors and see if the story shines through. Can someone read it with excitement or another emotion? Is the reader able to relate to the main character? How is the pace?

Is the Story Unique or Engaging Enough?

There are no new plots, but how is the delivery, or twist? Do you care what happens to the protagonist? Does the writing keep the reader interested, or is the story too thin? Does the book have the potential to be a series? When I pick up a manuscript after having set it down for a while and get excited to get back into the story, then I know it has potential. If I dread picking it up, then I know it’s not going to work for me, regardless of how popular the author or theme of the book is.

Does the Author Have a Following?

Check author’s social streams, Klout number, and whether the author already has a following. This can assist with the success of the project. While we offer marketing with our publishing, it helps if the author can help with exposure. This is not a general rule and I’ve never declined a work because of someone’s social media status. A book always does well if the author is willing to spread the word.

Is the Author Professional?

Do your best to gauge if an author has his or her head on straight or is living with their head in the clouds. In one case, I had an author inform me that his manuscript was the big one I’d been waiting for. After a long email of several paragraphs telling (not showing) how this manuscript would change my life and rock the entire world, he failed to mention the plot, pertinent information about himself, and why he wrote the book. There is plenty of information available on approaching publishers and if a budding novelist contacts me this way, it is difficult for me to consider his work professionally.

Reeling in the Good Ones

The reason I don’t publish many books is that I look for well written manuscripts that are a good fit; I look for quality over quantity.  I stopped looking for the big one, but continue fishing, hoping for a decent catch that can feed our target readers.  No manuscript comes to a publisher perfect and ready to publish, but if a writer shows potential and the story is promising, the time and energy that you dedicate to the project will be worth the risk.

About the Author

Don StevensDon Stevens is an experienced writer, marketer, and blogger as well as the President of Merge Publishing and Finger Lakes Copywriting. Don has helped authors reach their potential in the publishing business with Merge and help build their author website platform and press kit with Finger Lakes Copywriting. His experience with PR and marketing offers writers a chance to grow their audience. Don currently resides in the beautiful Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, where he also reviews food and wine and is the author of the Finger Lakes Wine mysteries (coming 2015). Merge Publishing is currently seeking submissions for quality fiction in Mystery/Thriller, New Adult, and Romantic Suspense.

Connect With Us

1020 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Suite 204 Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
P: 310-546-1818 F: 310-546-3939 E: info@IBPA-online.org
© Independent Book Publishers Association