There are many different reasons why a proposal or manuscript might get rejected by a publisher, but here are some of the more common reasons:
(1) The editor didn’t like the writing or the author’s treatment of the subject matter.
(2) The editor was unable to get unanimous support for the book from his or her colleagues.
(3) The book is too similar to another book the publisher has acquired.
(4) The publisher has experienced poor results with similar books.
(5) The publisher believes the potential market for the book is too small.
(6) The publisher is not satisfied with the author’s platform.
(7) The author’s previous books (if there are any) have not sold well.
(8) There is not enough new information in the book.
New books are published every month of the year. In the United States and Canada, new books are released on Tuesdays. In the United Kingdom, new books are released on Thursdays.
The release date for a given book (month and season) will depend on several factors, including when the manuscript is ready, the timeliness of the subject matter, the release dates of the publisher’s other titles, and when the media and the general public is most likely to be interested in the subject matter.
Once a manuscript is delivered to the publisher, the publisher generally needs at least 9-12 months to get it into bookstores. This time period may need to be extended if a manuscript requires extensive editing or rewriting, and it can be shortened in the case of time-sensitive books that a publisher wants to get into the market quickly.
During the time period leading up to publication, many things happen. The manuscript is edited, copyedited, and typeset; marketing and sales plans are drawn up; the cover is designed; the publisher’s sales representatives solicit orders from physical and online retailers; advance copies of the book called “galleys” are often mailed out; and a publicist begins reaching out to media outlets to arrange reviews, excerpts, and interviews.
Once retailers have placed their orders, the book is printed, delivered to the publisher’s warehouse, and copies begin arriving in bookstores and other retail locations.
In this day and age, when it’s possible to publish anything and make it available worldwide almost instantaneously, a year may seem like a long time to wait for a book to be published. But all of this pre-publication work can pay off in the form of a better manuscript, bigger orders from retailers, and top-tier media coverage – all factors that will influence sales.
There is no agreed-upon definition of what constitutes a bestseller, and no consensus on the level of sales a book must reach in order to achieve bestseller status.
Amazon.com will declare a book a bestseller when it performs well in a specific category or subcategory on its website. Amazon also maintains a separate list of its top 100 books overall, updated hourly, for print, audio and electronic books.
The New York Times, for its part, compiles its own weekly lists of bestsellers, using data reported by a panel of retailers from across the United States. There are multiple lists, for adult books, children’s books, and audio books. The adult lists are broken down even further into hardcover and paperback formats and then again into fiction and non-fiction titles. There are separate monthly lists for science and sports/fitness books and a weekly list for books that dispense advice, know-how, and miscellaneous information.
Like the New York Times, USA Today collects sales data from a broad spectrum of retailers, but instead of generating multiple category or format-specific lists, it generates a single list of the top 150 titles that incorporates both fiction and non-fiction titles.
Regional retailers and newspapers may have their own bestseller lists, reflecting local sales patterns.
Because methodologies and criteria vary, a book can appear on one bestseller list but not another. To make matters more confusing, a book may be among the top-selling titles in the country in any given week (good enough to qualify as a bestseller by any objective measure), yet it may still not appear on a national newspaper’s bestseller list if it doesn’t meet the standards set by the newspaper.