Getting Published

This information is for those of you who still believe in traditional publishing. Unfortunately, 80% of authors have given up on the traditional way of things. Another 18% of authors are motivated and continue submitting their manuscripts, but will not be published.

That leaves 2%.

Your first reaction might be, “I do not like those odds and will not waste my time with traditional publishing.” If that was your response, then you are in the 80% range.

Some of you may have reacted, “I’ll take my chances. I have a book that everyone loves and it will sell at least 50,000 copies.” If you said this, then you are in the 18% range.

If you said, “I know getting traditionally published is difficult. However, I am reading everyday, improving my writing in both storytelling and mechanics, marketing myself through several avenues, and studying the publishing industry to find a right fit for me.”

Yes, 2% of you think that way.

Let me give you the inside scoop of what publishers are thinking. (This is not my opinion. What I am about to say is a fact.)

Simon & Schuster, Random House, and other big publishers have changed their decision making when it comes to signing authors. No longer do they have screeners decide what books are entertaining. No longer are they looking for that next great Nora Roberts or John Grisham. The finance people in their company make the decisions on which books are published.

This should not be a big surprise. Simon & Schuster started their company by doing a crossword puzzle book, because it would sell. Bennett Cerf founded Random House. He said, “We were going to publish a few books on the side at random.” Later, Random House decided that dictionary’s would sell. These companies were not started so they could publish great works of fiction.

Not everyone agrees with the current philosophy at these big publisher houses. I am going to give you a quote from someone at Simon & Schuster, but not give his name. “I miss the days when we could find that next great author. But it’s not our choice anymore. It’s up to the money guys.”

And remember the 99/1 rule. It means that 99% of the big publisher’s resources go to the top 1% of their authors. This is why talented authors are leaving and going to a medium house.

Okay, I just made a case for the smaller publishers. Now, how do you sign with them? Here is what they want:


  • While big publishers are not looking for the next Stephen King, small and medium publishers are. If you have talent, they want you.
  • Every publisher can tell if you have skills or if you need work, just by looking at the first 10 pages of your manuscript. That might not seem fair, but it’s true. 



  • Medium and small publishers will help you more than a large publisher. However, the places you can sell your book is limited. Big publishers buy up all the space in mass-market stores and bookstores.
  • This means, you need to have at least some idea of where you will market your book.
  • You need to show your efforts in that market.
  • You need a plan that shows what you will do six to eight months before your book will publish.
  • You need a plan that shows what you will do four months after your book is published.
  • If your book is published and does not sell in the first 3 weeks, then the publisher will pull their resources from you. This means, they want you to hit the ground running with the above marketing plans.



  • If you do not have a literary agent and you have not been traditionally published before, then there is only one other way to be signed by a medium/small publisher…Meet them!
  • You can meet publishers at writing conferences and events that they attend. And trust me, they want to meet new authors.
  • Since they have met you, (and you made a good impression), they will look at your work via their submission process.


Meet-and-Greet Hints

  • Research everything about that publisher. All information is on their web site.
  • Learn the names of key players. Also, if you know that certain staff or authors who represent the publisher will be at an event, study their pictures, names, and biggest accomplishments.
  • Remember, you are meeting the publisher to find out if they are a right fit for you. Ask questions about their publishing process.
  • Just keep in mind; you need to have knowledge of the publishing industry. They do not have time to train you.
  • In a short period, you need to show your industry knowledge, show your overall marketing capabilities, and talk about your book. Practice this discussion in the mirror before attending the event.


If you are talented, know the market, and meet the publisher, you have a great chance of being signed.

Others, who do not go through this process, are in the 98% rejection category. Don’t let that be you.

 Ron Knight

 Coming Soon: “Untraditional Publishing” by Ron Knight. 47 chapters, jammed packed with helpful information so you can succeed as an author!

Ron Knight

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  1. Interesting tips on the 2% who wishes to ride out the wave in search of a traditional publisher. I plan to repost your wonderful comments on my blog in hopes it’ll encourage and motivate other authors such as myself. Thanks for sharing!