Find a Publisher for Your Nonfiction Book (Part 6)

When you send your proposal to a publisher, it will likely go through an initial screening. If that first reviewer determines the proposal is not a good fit, it may not even make it to the acquisitions editor.

To help you avoid that disappointment, here are five things the initial reviewer wants to see:

A clear and compelling title

A jazzy title might capture attention, but don’t forget, its most important function is to indicate:

● who it’s for

● what it’s about

If your title is merely catchy, include a subtitle that answers those questions.

A concept that fits the publisher

I think of a book’s concept as the hook plus the promise.

● The hook is what sets the book apart from all the others at Amazon.

● The promise is what your readers can expect.

The overall idea must align with the publisher’s interests and market.

A proposal that follows the publisher’s guidelines

A publisher will not reject a great proposal on a technicality. But by following a publisher’s guidelines, you can be sure to provide everything its people need to make an informed decision.

An error-free document

A publisher also won’t reject a great proposal over a few typos. But one riddled with minor errors will probably not survive. This is your opportunity to impress, so put your best foot forward.

A writing sample that reveals your talent

Some editors jump directly to the writing sample. If they aren’t immediately captured by its quality and readability, the rest of the information won’t salvage the proposal.

Surviving the initial review is an important hurdle to getting your book published. Once your proposal makes it to an acquisitions editor, you can be sure it will receive serious consideration.

Kevin Scott is acquisitions editor at Wesleyan Publishing House, where he coaches first-time and experienced authors through the acquisitions and editorial process. Kevin also writes essays about sustainable Christianity at


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