How to Avoid Being Published

Here are 10 ways NOT to get published – unfortunately, most of them are tried and tested.


  1. Stick to your first draft. After all, your writing is perfect as it is. Who needs an editor?
  2. Revise, revise, revise, revise. It’s just not 100% perfect yet. Chuck Sambuchino from Writer’s Digest suggests changing one word at a time, then rereading the entire novel aloud to see if that actually improved the book.
  3. Get creative. Cut your manuscript into a cute bunny shape. Include plastic spiders if your manuscript is a horror tale or rainbow glitter if it’s a romance. Try adding a chocolate bar bribe – especially if you’re sending the manuscript to a publisher in Florida in mid-Summer.
  4. Ignore the market. You don’t have to read in your genre. So what if the average first novel runs around 80,000 words? Yours is 500,000 words and every single one is essential.
  5. Hand-deliver your manuscript. Editors really aren’t busy. They love personal visits, especially if you show up unannounced.
  6. Blast the competition. Leave horrible reviews for every other book in your genre. Bash other writers on your Facebook page. After all, they’re the enemy, right?
  7. Get defensive. Be like The Donald and defend yourself vigorously against every critique. After all, you’re an artist. They’re just not intelligent enough to understand you.
  8. Threaten the editor. If you do get a rejection, immediately lambaste the fool who couldn’t spot your genius. Let him or her know you’re not going to stand for such humiliation.
  9. Ignore your audience. After all, everyone is your audience. Grandmothers and toddlers both will love your book. Your gun-toting Uncle Bob will give a copy to pacifist cousin Willy. Middle school kids will adore you. Who needs to specialize?
  10. Keep it to yourself. Nobody can hurt your feelings if you just shove that manuscript into a drawer and sit on it. Those nasty editors and their rejections? Who needs them?

What are some un-helpful things you’ve seen writers doing to sabotage their careers?

10 Ways NOT to Get Published

Over the years, I’ve attended a lot of writing conferences, and one of my favorite types of sessions is the “How Not To Get Published” panel. This is where you put a bunch of published authors, editors, and agents at the table and ask them for their worst experiences. Not only do you have an hour of belly laughs, but you come away thinking that you can’t be all that bad compared to what you’ve just heard.

Here are 10 of my favorite manuscript submission stories … that actually happened.


Top 10 ways NOT to get your manuscript read:

10. Enclose a chocolate bar for the editor … to a publishing house based in Atlanta, GA … in July

9.  Fill the box containing your horror manuscript with tiny plastic spiders

8. Douse your romance manuscript in perfume

7. Address the package to “To Whom It May Concern”

6. Fill the box containing your manuscript with glitter and confetti

5. Enclose a bribe

4. Misspell the editor’s name

3. Print the entire manuscript in Lucida Handwriting

2. Cut the pages into a cute bunny shape

and the Number 1 way NOT to get your manuscript read …


…leave it in your desk drawer!