Tag Archives: genre

Why a nonfiction book publisher won’t accept a fiction manuscript or comics publisher rejects a textbook?


The variety of book proposals publishers receive is great: some proposals have been drafted so well that the author either has long experience or has attended a course where it was discussed, whereas others simply ask their memoirs to be published. Perhaps the most puzzling proposals are novel manuscripts in the spirit of Fifty Shades of Grey submitted to a nonfiction publisher, or an astrophysics book proposal submitted to a poetry publisher. Let’s see why this kind of random submission method is a total waste of time for everyone involved.
office desk, employee sorting inbox and outbox
It is so easy to submit a book proposal to a publisher (or agent in some markets) that even if the author has read the guidelines on the publisher’s web page, the author may think “You never know – maybe they still like my book”.

No, that’s not the case. The submission doesn’t even get a chance. A book proposal or manuscript that doesn’t fit into any genre specified in the guidelines will be swiftly moved into the receiver’s computer trashcan. The message and its attachments won’t even be read.

The reason is simple: publishers specialize in a specific genre in order to master the content and the business related to that genre. Small and independent publishers do it to focus their limited resources on a type of content and business ecosystem they believe they know the best. Big publishers who accept books of any genre operate the same way behind the scenes. They have separate publishing divisions for fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, and for all other categories they have decided to pursue business.

Let’s think of music: say, a conductor of a philharmonic orchestra wants to record Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with a new star violinist. The conductor doesn’t contact a punk rock or blues label, but a publisher that is specialized in classical music. The classical label knows the costs of a live recording, professionals required for post-production, and has the means to market the album to maximize sales.

Exactly the same applies to book publishing.

When an author submits his or her precious manuscript or book proposal to a publisher who has published, and wants to publish, books in the genre the author is targeting, the book proposal gets an opportunity. It will be opened, read and reviewed. Perhaps several individuals examine the submission, and discuss its merits and shortcomings. Above all, the proposal gets its moment of opportunity.

What if the author can’t specify a genre, and that’s the reason for submitting the proposal to many types of publishers? If the proposal is absolutely clear what the book is about, the genre can be specified. If not, more work on the proposal is required.

Learning from rejections – book cover designers share their stories


Designing good book covers is difficult. It is creative work that requires that the designer is able to capture the essence of a book in an image that pleases everyone, especially the publisher’s marketing department, and is attractive from a reader’s point of view. 12 book cover designers have shared their stories on their works that were killed before they were published.

If you examine covers of different genres of books, you instantly notice how the genre defines many factors for the cover. Romance covers tend to have a man and a woman in, crime novels often have dark covers, text books show an item from the contents of the book, and nonfiction books have something about the overall theme of the book.

The most difficult book covers to design are for a genre that is so broad that it is hard to define: literary books.

3 book covers, same book3 cover designs for the same book. Left: the original book cover in France. Center: rejected cover. Right: published cover design.

Creative Review has managed to get stories from 12 cover designers on their works that were rejected. Many stories have a lesson that the designer learnt from the setback.

One of the stories and the key takeaway of the project is told by Thy Bui who was the first designer to try and create the cover for a book: “This cover was scrapped, as were a few more attempts. The final cover was designed by Sophie Burdess. So the lessons learnt? That there is almost always a hiccup somewhere along the process – accept this. And, there is no right or wrong design for a book cover. Our role as designers is to explore the options.”

Designing a cover for an ebook is the same thing as for a print book. A collection of ebook cover designs from multiple designers can be viewed, for instance, at the book cover design awards page. Each cover has a brief review. These books are very genre-specific, making judging their covers easier than, for instance, literary book covers.

These Book Genres Are Trending


Nielsen Bookscan collects book sales numbers from outlets and compiles them into statistics that give us a view what kind of books have been popular lately. If we take last year’s sales numbers and compare them with 2013 numbers, we can find out which genres were trending in 2014.

In 2014 in the US, three best-selling nonfiction book genres were religion, reference and general nonfiction.

Three trending genres in 2014 were self-help (+15% from 2013), biographies (+12%) and religion (+12%).

Three genres that were losing readers were humor (-13% from 2013), computers (-12%) and history/law/politics (-11%).

Here are the numbers (units in thousands).

  2013 2014 % CHANGE
Adult Nonfiction
Religion/Bibles 32,012 35798 12%
Reference 32,642 31989 -2%
General Nonfiction 29,509 28533 -3%
Biography/Autobiography/Memoir 20,425 22803 12%
Health/Fitness/Medicine/Sports 22,488 21574 -4%
Business/Economics 15,473 16604 7%
Cooking/Entertaining 15,363 15492 1%
History/Law/Political Science 17,080 15220 -11%
Self-Help 8,546 9848 15%
Crafts/Hobbies/Antiques/Games 8,314 8485 2%
Performing Arts 7,358 7706 5%
Travel 7,658 7417 -3%
Art/Architecture/Design/Photography 6,739 6984 4%
Humor 5,604 4897 -13%
Computers 5,311 4652 -12%
House & Home/Gardening 2,309 2130 -8%
Total Adult Nonfiction 236,833 240,130 1%
Adult Fiction
General Fiction 36,314 33524 -8%
Romance 34,585 30885 -11%
Suspense/Thrillers 22,161 20111 -9%
Mystery/Detective 14,884 14304 -4%
Graphic Novels 7,659 8669 13%
Classics 7,817 7578 -3%
Fantasy 8,615 7526 -13%
Religion 4,925 4174 -15%
Science Fiction 4,448 4142 -7%
Occult/Psychological/Horror 4,474 3329 -26%
Action/Adventure 2,619 2239 -15%
Western 2,088 2232 7%
Total Adult Fiction 150,590 138,712 -8%


Fiction books lost a lot of readers during 2014. All fiction genres, except for graphic novels and westerns sold fewer books in 2014 than in 2013.

Publishers Weekly reported.