Monday, July 25, 2011

Seven Reasons the Committee Says No: Part IV

Hey everyone, it's our final installment of Editor Nick Harrison's fantastic series on why publishing houses decline projects. I've learned some things, how about you? Many thanks to Nick for sharing his advice and wisdom with us! Read on!

Seven Reasons the Committee Says No: 
Part IV*
By Nick Harrison

Here are the final reasons the committee rejects manuscripts:

Sometimes an otherwise fine book is rejected because of the lack of spiritual value. In addition to our list of core values, we also have a mission statement: To glorify God by providing high-quality books and products that affirm biblical values, help people grow spiritually strong, and proclaim Jesus Christ as the answer to every human need. One good question to ask when you’re looking for a publisher is: what is their mission statement and does my proposal fit that mission? If it does, it wouldn’t hurt to point that out in your cover letter or as part of your proposal.

Number seven can only be described as “for unknown reasons.” Publishing committees, like editors and like readers, are subjective. Sometimes they pass on really great projects that go on to be very successfully published elsewhere. Sometimes we read success into a proposal that really isn’t there…and the book fails to live up to our hopes. Sometimes I never find out exactly why I got a no. Usually, though, the committee’s judgment is eventually confirmed. One time I presented a well-known author to the committee and I thought for sure it would be a slam-dunk yes. The proposal was on a topic that was popular in the marketplace, it was well-written, and the author seemed personable. For reasons I never knew or have now forgotten, the committee said no. When I emailed the author’s agent about the results, I received nothing in the way of a “thanks anyway” or “gosh, it would have been great to work with you,” or some sort of acknowledgement that I had championed this author. But I never again heard a peep from either that author or her agent. So in retrospect, I doubt she would have fit in at Harvest House anyway.

Let me add a final word that, just like there are unknown reasons why a book may be rejected, there are sometimes exceptions to a couple of the above reasons for rejection. We have published books when the author had very little or no platform because we felt it was an important book that needed to be published in spite of the possibility of low sales. We have taken books where the writing was less than stellar, but which we were able to edit into excellent books. We have also taken a novel from a “one-book author.” Those are rare exceptions, however.

To learn more about Nick Harrison, visit his blog.

This post originally appeared on Nick Harrison's blog. Used by permission.

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