Here are ten things that are often true of the acquisitions side of the publishing world but rarely admitted. Until now.
1. Publishers will sometimes, perhaps often, make a decision on a manuscript after reading the first sentence.
2. It is a fair bet that most submissions are never read beyond the first page.
3. Cover letter, synopsis and marketing plans accompanying a submission are often less important than whether or not the editor has just made a cup of tea.
4. At an acquisitions meeting it is rare for more than 50% of attendees to have actually finished reading the book under discussion.
5. At acquisition meetings people are more likely to point out reasons a book won't sell than reasons it will.
6. Current mood of the reader is as influential as quality of the manuscript.
7. Publishing myths - 'erotica doesn't sell', 'this is a magazine article not a book', 'humour books don't work outside of Christmas' - remain true until someone publishes a book that proves them wrong.
8. And then everyone else tries to replicate that success for six months.
9. A writer of literary fiction can turn their hand to another genre and be accepted, even welcomed, by reviewers. A writer of genre fiction will struggle to be accepted by reviewers of literary fiction. This can influence publishers when considering new projects by established writers.
10. Publishers are still far more likely to consider a book sent to them by an agent than via any other source.
These are sweeping generalisatons and are not true of all publishers all of the time, obviously. But I defy publishers not to find at least three things on this list that they recognise.
Scott Pack is a publisher and author and he blogs at meandmybigmouth.typepad.com. Follow Scott on Twitter @meandmybigmouth
The Friday Project is the experimental imprint of HarperCollins trying out new ways of acquiring, publishing, selling and promoting their books with a strong focus on digital. Bestsellers include Sirens by Tom Reynolds (now a major Channel 4 television series), Confessions of a GP by Dr Benjamin Daniels and The Atheist's Guide to Christmas.