Wednesday, June 5, 2013


by Ursula Renée

After years of researching, plotting, writing and editing, you have produced the next bestseller that people will talk about for years. Eager to see your work in print, you mail copies of your manuscript to various publishers. However, after months of waiting, instead of a contract, you receive letters stating that your manuscript does not fit their needs.

As you toss the rejections letters into the fireplace, you wonder how could your manuscript not fit their needs? They are publishers, publishers need books and that’s what you sent them.

Unfortunately, the publishing industry is not that simple. It is the rare publisher who accepts anything and everything. Most focus on a handful of genres and have limits to the content that they willing to publish. Therefore, before you start looking for a publisher; you need to take a closer look at what you have written.

As you learned in school, books can be categorized as either fiction or non-fiction. Each category has various genres and each genre has numerous sub-genres. A romance, for example, can be classified as a contemporary, suspense, paranormal, historical, western, Regency, etc.

Even though a publisher accepts manuscripts in a particular genre, it does not mean they cover every sub-genre in that category. Just as you have your likes and dislikes, those who acquire books also have their preferences and it is not always in the author’s best interest if she submits a paranormal romance to someone who only enjoys reading romantic thrillers.

Besides the genre, content needs to be taken into consideration. Rate your novel as if you were rating a movie, paying close attention to heat level, the language, and the amount of violence. Since romances can range from sweet (the bedroom door remains closed to the reader) to sizzling (the reader is in the bed with the characters and interaction is spelled out in detail) to erotica (which tends to be edgier and can include BDSM, ménages, toys and much more). You want to make sure you do not offend an editor who prefers milder material or bore one who prefers a bit more excitement in her books. Also, while one house may publish novels with harsh language and gory scenes, another may only deal with stories in which the language does not get stronger than ―golly gee‖ and the body count is kept to a minimum.

Other factors you will need to consider are the word count, your target audience, and the format in which you would like to see your book. Once you have determined what you have to offer, you will be ready to begin your search for a publisher.♥

Ursula Renée is a Co-Vice President for RWA/NYC. She recently sold SWEET JAZZ, a historical romance, to The Wild Rose Press. When she is not writing, she enjoys photography, drawing and stone carving. Visit her at


Join Ursula on June 23 for her stop on RWA/NYC's Hero Blog Tour.  Comment then to win a daily prize.

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