If you want to publish a nonfiction book that lands you a literary agent or a contract from a sizable publisher (with a decent advance in the four or five figures), then market conditions—and your position in that market—will affect your ability to secure a deal.
Writers new to the publishing industry sometimes find it shocking how little they are evaluated on the writing or the merits of their book idea, and how much they’re judged on market appeal—which includes their own personal potential in the market. (Surprise! Most of book publishing operates like a business.)
The good news: More nonfiction books are published and sold around the world than fiction. Personally, I find nonfiction an easier market to understand and excel in compared to fiction.
The bad news: nonfiction is so wide ranging that it’s hard to talk about it as a single, uniform category—even though that’s what I’m attempting to do in this post. You’ll also find varied attitudes toward the market among publishers, depending on their size and mission. Some are, in fact, most concerned with the writing or the ideas within the books they acquire. But if they are to stay in business, publishers have to also consider market conditions, and that’s why I’m writing this post. Here are the most common reasons that publishers reject nonfiction books.