How Not to Get Your Book Published

Lee Constantine
Jul 24, 2017 · 4 min read

Here’s the problem with trying to get your book published…

Acquiring editors at traditional and independent publishers (including Amazon) receive hundreds of book proposals to their inboxes every day.

And they don’t have time or the resources to read through every single one to determine writing quality and market fit. So instead, they default to traditional gatekeepers, which include literary agents.

On the author side of things, they don’t usually know what publishers really want, or often times how to gain a loyal readership. And if they do know how, they’re not great at executing. So they also default to traditional gatekeepers, which include literary agents.

As a result of these gatekeepers, 96% of book proposals get rejected — usually because most books don’t have potential to earn a $50k advance from the publisher (of which, the literary agent earns 15%).

So, tons of highly quality amazing books never leave the slush pile simply because someone’s not making a big enough paycheck. This is a major downfall of the book publishing industry.

And hey! — If authors don’t want to mess with all this publisher mumbo-jumbo, they can always self-publish and give it a go on their own.

But, we all know how that usually goes…

Here’s an idea…

A third party platform or organization that uses data and algorithms to quickly and efficiently match book proposals to specific criteria that acquiring editors at traditional and independent publishers are looking for.

This third party would also provide special content and support to authors so they know exactly what that criteria is and how to meet it.

Here’s what that would do…

This kind of targeted and data-driven proposal matching, as well as the added level of support would not only help authors gain readership and build that beloved platform, but it would also reduce time spent by acquiring editors on author discovery.

And in the end, it would allow them to make more profitable acquisitions, without the literary agent fee.

Here’s the truth…

The book publishing industry is moving in this direction, albeit very slowly. Data on readership, book sales, and genre trends are largely hidden or inaccessible. There is a glass ceiling.

Here’s what you should know about transparency…

Publishers hold a lot of power. So does Amazon. They have this [buying] power because they have a lot of data. But it’s not readily available to authors.

Amazon releases funds to authors on a monthly or quarterly basis, but with it comes little more than a paycheck. Minus the reader data. They don’t like to share that the average self-published author only sells about 50 books in it’s entire lifetime. That’s very frustrating, especially when Amazon touts millions of readers on the platform.

For more traditional publishers, they’re on a timeline — with you the author, not just your book. And maybe one day you as their author won’t be their author anymore. So why should they share reader data with you? It’s not really yours…right?

Here’s another idea…

A publisher, that understands the advantages of transparency. Once that view the publisher-author contract as a partnership, and not just a business transaction.

Here’s what that would do…

It would inspire more trust in the publisher (and therefore publishing) which would result in higher quality books. More books will also start to get published because publishing deals will be less about finding a few authors who can sell hundreds of thousands of copies and earn a $50k advance, and more about finding unique books with niche readerships.

These types of publishers exist. They are called independent publishers. And because of them, a more diverse set of books earn investment, and retail distribution, because traditional gatekeepers are no longer be able to chase paychecks.

Readers also win because more relevant content and unique book topics are able to hit the market. Data on reader engagement is increasing as a result, and the book publishing industry has potential to thrive for everyone in the supply chain.

Here’s a quick story…

About an author who had one of those really great book proposals, with millions of followers (potential readers) and was rejected by a few major publishing houses. A rite of passage for a debut author, sure.

So he gave one of those third party platforms a try, who helped out with his proposal, engaged his readership, and used data and algorithms to introduce him to one of those transparent, innovative publishers.

He recently signed a deal while finishing up the manuscript, without the literary agent fee.

So did this author. And this one. And this one. This one, too. And hundreds more on Publishizer.


P.S. Apply here for our next batch of authors in a book accelerator program.

Or read more about the author’s role in marketing your books.


How to successfully crowdfund your book and get published.

Lee Constantine

Written by

Tech entrepreneur and editor. Co-founder at Not a fan of pseudonyms.


How to successfully crowdfund your book and get published.

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