50 Reasons No One Wants to Publish Your First Book

1. Being innovative doesn’t justify writing a Civil War epic entirely in texting slang and emoticons: “ts u hor! i dnt gv dam :< !”

2. There’s this thing called punctuation. You might want to look into it.

3. They’re afraid your author’s photo is going to alienate readers. That’s right, dude: You’re too ugly for literature.

4. Where are the vampires?

5. No, seriously, where are the vampires?


6. The world isn’t quite ready for an illustrated children’s book called SOME MOMMIES ARE INTERNET PORNSTARS: “Mommy and Daddy’s door is always locked and your online access is completely blocked! You asked them why and they say, ‘Don’t worry, honey, we’ve just found a fun new way to earn some money!’”

7. It probably wasn’t a good idea to base the main character on yourself, considering how much most people seem to hate you.

8. The market for IRON CHEF slash fiction isn’t quite as broad as you may have assumed: “’Oh, Morimoto,’ Chef Batali sighed, ‘stuff me like a pepper!’”

9. Submitting a manuscript handwritten in your own blood does indicate your passion for the material, but not quite in the way you might have hoped.

10. They liked it better when it was called JANE EYRE and didn’t suck.

11. Iambic pentameter? Really?

12. Funnily enough, a detailed diary of five years’ worth of bowel movements has already been done. Curse you, Kevin Smith!

13. If you’re going to try and sell it on OPRAH as a memoir, you probably want to cut the chapter where you go back in time, kill Hitler and make Stalin admit that he’s your bitch.

14. William Burroughs was a broken-down beatnik junkie genius; you’re a wannabe-hipster asshole imitating a broken-down beatnik junkie genius.

15. It’s not technically a novel until you’ve written it down first.

16. Yes, enclosing a bag of flour along with your manuscript and causing an anthrax scare will get people’s attention, but it’s the wrong kind of attention.

17. You’re not just being paranoid; there really is a vast corporate conspiracy to ensure that your revolutionary ideas never leave your parents’ basement.

18. They can’t quite understand why you felt compelled to write such nasty things about Kenny Loggins in what is otherwise a fairly standard legal thriller. Kenny knows, but to everyone else, it comes across as somewhat mean and arbitrary.

19. Most good books aren’t created with the sole hope that they might someday be adapted into a Martin Lawrence movie.

20. You’re actually the 139th person to submit a conspiracy thriller involving the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, entitled THE MICHAELANGELO CIPHER.

21. And the 78th to submit a chick-lit manuscript about an attractive woman’s sweet tooth and affection for footwear, called CHOCOLATE AND SHOES.

22. You know the part where the protagonist stuffs those puppies into the wood chipper? It’s not quite as funny as you seem to think.

23. Truthfully, THE EVANGELICAL GUIDE TO GAY SEX is actually a great idea. The problem is that its target audience won’t want to buy it in a bookstore, and they’ll be highly reluctant to use their own credit cards to buy it online.

24. The alternative-history genre has lost its appeal. Everyone knows it doesn’t matter what else would have happened if the South won the Civil War and the Nazis won WWII: George W. Bush would still have been elected president.

25. A young-adult novel set in the behind-the-scenes world of network reality television featuring over two dozen characters, graphic underage sex and dead prostitutes? Are you fucking kidding me? No, seriously, are you fucking kidding me?

26. Remember the shit Salman Rushdie had to deal with after he wrote THE SATANIC VERSES? Chances are your XXX hip-hop reworking of the Koran — MO’ MONEY, MO’ PUSSY — is probably going to inspire the same reaction.

27. You know the talented creative writing professor who told you your work showed so much creativity and promise? Turns out what he really meant was that he wanted you to blow him.

28. Because they threw away their annual budget on the new Lindsay Lohan autobiography, BOOKS ARE RETARDED.

29. Everyone who attempts to load a copy of the manuscript onto their Kindle is found dead three hours later.

30. Four years ago, you wrote a post on your blog about how MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE sucks ass. Stephen King found it during a Google search and exerted his influence to ensure you never get paid a cent for your writing ever again.

31. There’s a fine line between writing authentic regional dialogue and making all of your characters sound like stroke victims.

32. Just be thankful they refused to publish it, since the common accepted response to a novel that ends with the protagonist realizing all the terrible things that happened were in a dream (or was it?) is some stern re-editing of your face with a pair of brass knuckles.

33. Writing a book about vegetarian zombies kinda indicates you don’t exactly know why people like zombies in the first place.

34. Calling your book OPRAH WINFREY IS A BIG FAT CUNT pretty much guarantees she isn’t going to select it for her book club.

35. Sure, you’re an amazing poet, but you aren’t a hot blonde pop singer with big tits, so who really gives a fuck?

36. God may have told you to write this book, but he didn’t tell you how to give it a decent ending.

37. You may want to revise the query letter you’re sending to agents so it’s more about the book and less about how much you love kittens.

38. For the first 20 pages, everyone who reads it is certain it’s the funniest book they’ve ever read. Unfortunately by the 21st, they finally realize you’re actually being serious.

39. Do you honestly not see the crucial flaw in writing a book intended for commercial sale that argues against copyright law and in favor of free unrestricted distribution of all forms of media?

40. It’s never a good sign when a manuscript’s first sentence is “’Are luck’s run out,’ said the Princess, ‘there unicorns are to fast!’”

41. When writing erotica, you want to avoid graphic descriptions of acne, cellulite and back fat.

42. Life-affirming poetry written by a 10-year-old with a fatal disease is inspirational; that same poetry written by a 47-year-old housewife with a trick knee and occasional indigestion is really, really lame.

43. Writing a 97,236-word thesis arguing the inherent superiority of Wolverine over Batman is intrinsically flawed since no intelligent person could ever take it seriously. I mean, c’mon, Batman would kick that midget Canuck’s ass every single time!

44. If you’re going to make your main character a forensic coroner, you’re obligated to know more about human anatomy than what you learned playing Operation as a kid.

45. A general rule to follow when writing for kids: If you could go to jail for saying it to them in person, you’re better off not putting it into print.

46. Historically, books written solely to settle a bar bet seldom make it to print, especially if they were written during a seven-and-a-half-hour period in the same bar where the bet was made.

47. The entire point of your book has already been more satisfactorily made in a single strip of Family Circus.

48. Because the printed medium is a dying art, and it would be a tragic waste to allow its last pathetic gasp be polluted by your bullshit.

49. Does anybody really need the complete lyrics to “One Million Bottles of Beer on the Wall”?

50. Again, I ask one last time, where are the freaking vampires? —Allan Mott

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63 Comments »

Comment by keith rawson
2009-03-13 07:39:00

damn, my medical thiller/forensic procedural is shot because of #44. I really thought my funny bone removal scene had some real intensity to it

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Comment by Catharine Withenay
2009-03-13 08:32:02

No.49: But One Million Bottles of Beer has such a catchy tune …

(Damn – I’m gonna be singing it all day now!)

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Comment by t.h.
2009-03-13 08:56:35

…thanks for the imagery…Zombies, wobbling through fields, gnawing on heads of lettuce…whoa…but seriously, since this is about novels, I understand. If we were talking nonfiction…isn’t…OPRAH WINFREY…A BIG FAT CUNT??

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Comment by Erik
2009-03-13 09:48:39

Every good idea for a story I have is often followed by the words, “Curse you, Kevin Smith!”

And yes, my story does have vampires.

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Comment by Greg Cox
2009-03-13 11:14:27

51. Because a heated struggle for control of the local community college English Department is not exactly compelling reading . . . .

52. “Men of the Middle Ages, the Hundred Years War has begun!”

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Comment by Peter Flynn
2009-03-27 15:25:03

Because a heated struggle for control of the local community college English Department is not exactly compelling reading… actually it can be: read Wilt by Tom Sharpe for one of the funniest parodies.

 
 
Comment by elycleoe
2009-03-13 13:19:53

I can’t stop laughing at this. IT’S SO BRILLIG!!! You so made my day. Thank you!

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Comment by Erik
2009-03-13 13:56:10

#31 reminds me of so many short stories from Creative Writing classes during college, and only some of them mine!

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Comment by Rick
2009-03-13 16:38:01

This is total bull. Wolverine would kick Batman’s ass any day.

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Comment by Sid
2009-03-14 11:07:44

Yep – whole damn list lost credibility at just this point…

j/k Allen – good stuff.

Sid.

 
 
Comment by --Deb
2009-03-13 17:38:44

Wonderful, wonderful! I can’t even pick a favorite point because they’re all good … though, I WILL say that I’m perfectly fine with there NOT being any vampires. That’s so over done…. (grin)

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Comment by Tara Maya
2009-03-13 18:54:17

I can’t believe Chocholate and Shoes has already been suggested… Curse you, Kevin Smith!

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Comment by Ren
2009-03-13 20:26:08

Kenny totally knows.

Poor bastard.

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Comment by Kyra
2009-03-13 20:36:29

HAHAHAHA, awesome. The sad part is that most of these probably have been tried, at one point or another. Or more than once.

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Comment by Julio Angel Ortiz
2009-03-13 20:53:36

But my version of #25 has vampires in it… so, does that make it okay? ;-)

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Comment by Allan
2009-03-13 21:20:48

No, that makes it plagerism, ‘cuz that one happened to be oddly specific for a reason….

Comment by Tim Bird
2009-03-14 03:05:30

Come on, Allan. Spill it.

Comment by Allan
2009-03-14 16:06:10

I confess. My first attempt at a novel got away from me and ended being something completely different than what I intended. For that reason it remains hidden away on my old iMac’s hard drive. It wasn’t all a waste, though, since I’ve taken my two favourite characters from the book and transplanted them into my second attempt (which, if it ever does get published, would technically be my 13 and 1/2 book, but never mind all that).

 
 
 
 
Comment by kathy
2009-03-13 21:05:22

31. There’s a fine line between writing authentic regional dialogue and making all of your characters sound like stroke victims. HAHAHAHAHAHA. That’s great.

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Comment by Bex
2009-03-22 16:39:17

That was my favourite too XD I need to beware of that… only with futuristic slang rather than regional dialogue.

 
 
Comment by Alyce
2009-03-14 01:21:58

Well, what about vampiric unicorns eating pudding? I promise, none of them have back fat.

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Comment by Charlayne
2009-03-16 21:16:44

Only if they have zombies astride them, munching on lettuce and gleefully reciting the ending monologue from “Midsummer’s Nights Dream”.

 
 
Comment by nofluer
2009-03-14 10:19:22

#53 “The detective was just standing there in the produce aisle when suddenly he realized what he was looking at. The bin was full of lettuce heads, BUT WHERE WERE THE BODIES?”

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Comment by Sabrina
2009-10-05 12:09:07

I have been smiling through this whole post and discussion but this one actually made me laugh out loud! Hilarious stuff guys!

 
 
Comment by Dave R
2009-03-14 13:46:59

I was thinking about dude vampires durring the civil war.
Tht wld B so hawt.
Seriously, I have 21 pages written so far.

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Comment by Piper
2009-03-14 15:25:12

#33

Graaaaaiiiinns….

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Comment by Jake
2010-03-29 07:10:14

That’s funny

 
 
Comment by Fred Davis
2009-03-14 16:00:45

Vegetarian zombies actually prefer cauliflowers.

All fanfiction should start with a unicorn based chase scene.

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Comment by Jennifer L
2009-03-14 21:44:01

I started a book about two years ago that would have had serious problems with #31, if I hadn’t quit writing it after three chapters.

#46 describes my first husband perfectly.

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Comment by Rob
2009-03-14 22:52:00

Alas and alack! My book, she shall never be done now! Curse you, Kevin Smith!

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Comment by Ron
2009-03-15 14:17:34

Dunno who ya’ll work for, Al, but it’s durn shore you’ll never make it with a rill publisher. Ever one of your examples coulda made millions for the woman who signed O.J.

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Comment by Kelly Fineman
2009-03-15 14:43:17

Brilliantly funny – I’ve linked to you today, after expressly warning my blog readers not to have beverages at hand whilst reading – I nearly caused damage to myself and/or my laptop when I hit #23, and again at #27.
Best,
Kelly Fineman, Writing & Ruminating

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Comment by Josephine Damian
2009-03-19 10:28:44

Hilarious and dead on! #novelfail

#27 was my favorite, too.

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Comment by Corey Wilde
2009-03-20 22:04:48

Okay, I get it, Chocolate and Shoes has already been done. But are you saying my chick-lit story about an alcoholic lingerie model (called ‘Panties and Puke’) isn’t going to outsell Sophie Kinsella?

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Comment by Allan
2009-03-21 07:02:57

I know it would sell at least one copy, but I don’t know if I’m an audience an author can build a career on….

Comment by Corey Wilde
2009-03-21 11:10:25

“Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…”

 
 
 
Comment by brian
2009-03-21 21:18:10

That was a funny post, especially #43

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Comment by Craig
2009-03-22 12:49:23

You mean you’re NOT supposed to do those things????? Oh well, that’s okay because I really want to direct…

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Comment by Leslie F. Miller
2009-03-26 16:27:52

That’s all true and hilarious. I’m sure glad I sold my book before anyone read this entry. No vampires. But there is cake!

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Comment by Allan
2009-03-28 02:24:53

Actually, Leslie, considering the last four books I’ve bought have all been about food, yours is definitely one I’m glad is being published.

 
 
Comment by Yarg
2009-03-28 01:36:53

#27… Shit! I KNEW he was looking at me funny!

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Comment by bigfish
2009-04-08 23:06:05

Does this mean I should take the vampire cavalry out of my Civil War epic?

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Comment by Zoe Winters
2009-06-01 11:06:46

No, bigfish, vampires are the only part you’re supposed to leave in. Weren’t you listening? :P

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Comment by Marie
2009-06-05 18:10:06

**It’s never a good sign when a manuscript’s first sentence is “’Are luck’s run out,’ said the Princess, ‘there unicorns are to fast!’”**

I laughed. I cried. I’ve actually seen sentences like this on writing sites.

Marie

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Comment by Cathy C
2009-06-05 20:15:24

You made my day with this! Be prepared for onslaught of RTs at Twitter! :D

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Comment by dannii
2009-06-06 13:11:59

well, i wrote something….with vampires….but after a lengthy period of being bugged by my friend as to whether she could read it or not, adn then having it snatched off me by said friend, she asked ‘are they gay?’. No, it was NOT all about a gay relationship. it was a kid about to get killed by a vampire. :s

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Comment by Kimberly Davis
2009-06-19 06:33:42

Oh dear, #35 really hurt. Apparently I’ll need to add some vampires to my book of poetry.

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Comment by Theresa Meyers
2009-06-30 08:58:40

Thank God I write vampires…

Thanks for the laugh today! Great list.

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Comment by Gail
2009-06-30 09:05:19

Wonderful! As a historical fiction writer who hates dialect, #31 is particularly dear to my heart :)

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Comment by Michael N.
2009-07-22 16:30:38

I had what I thought was a wonderful manuscript about a 1940s vampire private eye, but at least one publishing house told me, “Don’t let the door smack you in the ass on the way out.” Should I have taken that as a bad sign?

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Comment by Sandi
2009-10-06 15:44:52

This was so funny. Great stuff. I Like the imagery of the vegetarian zombies. Would that be anything like a vegetarian vampire, sucking the juices from fruits and vegetable. Hmmm, this is an idea worthy of pondering. I think I better open a Word document right now.

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Comment by Michael N.
2009-10-20 15:59:01

Sandi, just in case you don’t wind up disappointed, “vegetarian vampires” as a genre of fiction has already been done — in a children’s books series. I’m talking, of course, about the delightful “Bunnicula” stories, about a vampire rabbit who sucks the juices from veggies. But open that Word document and go to it! You could probably put a whole new slant on vegetarian vampires who AREN’T bunnies! :-)

 
 
Comment by Kevin Smith
2009-12-06 21:58:56

Hey!!! I have no idea where all this hate is spewing from!
Show yourselves you cowards (except Allen)

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Comment by Danielle
2010-03-28 14:36:32

What’s sad is that a lot of people assume they know what type of writers are left out there: the teenage girl who decides to write about a book about a Johnny Depp look-a-like vampire and his love affair with a normal girl- or really, just the AUTHOR. I actually read every single one of these reasons, and none of them related to my books. No, they do not have vampires in them, but if you look REALLY carefully… you’ll notice that “The Catcher in the Rye” dosen’t have vampires in it, either. Never assume, people.

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Comment by Allan
2010-03-28 15:24:26

Noted: I failed to accurately provide a reason why no one wants to publish this commenter’s books. I am suitably ashamed for such a gross oversight. I suppose I could create one here and know, but since doing so would require me to work in the area of humor, which I suspect they are unable to properly comprehend.

That said, you might notice that THE CATCHER IN THE RYE actually was PUBLISHED, which alone makes it a bad example for the sort of work mocked in this piece–not to mention the fact that a work written 6 decades ago doesn’t quite strike me as an accurate reflection of the work being produced today.

 
 
Comment by Tahlia Newland
2010-06-30 21:50:12

WHOOPS, no vampires. Damm it. And I thought everyone was sick of them like me. Seriously, I purposely made sure there weren’t any in my new YA fantasy novel, ‘Lethal Inheritance’. Will demons do?

You can read ch1 and see what you think at
http://publishersearch.wordpress.com/lethal-inheritance/

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Comment by Slade Grayson
2011-03-15 09:51:52

In regards to no. 43, truer words have never been spoken.

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Comment by bob_bobberson
2011-07-05 15:40:47

#40 – just got added to my to-do list. I’ll mention you special thanks if it makes it to print.

#46 – Thats what they told Hubbard, if only he had listened.

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Comment by Jim
2012-05-23 21:01:17

I’m wondering, do you think it’s funny to insult people? I for one do not. If your number three reason; “you’re too ugly for literature” were true we would never have heard of William F. Buckley or Charles Dickens. Jack Kerouac or Ernest Hemingway ( or you?).

I went to your website hoping for some actual advice. I was apparently wrong. Have fun.

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Comment by R
2013-07-02 09:27:48

“Have fun.”

That was the whole point of this article, which I don’t think he got.

 
 
Comment by Allan
2012-05-24 07:38:42

“I’m wondering, do you think it’s funny to insult people?”

Usually not, Jim, but sometimes we’re willing to make an exception.

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Comment by Slade Grayson
2012-05-24 09:28:34

I think it’s funny.

 
 
Comment by Doug Roach
2013-07-01 19:48:46

You have a point. If you’re not up some ones ass or born to a family of publishers you cant find anyone that give’s a fuck. I self published at Amazon and I cant even find my book unless I type in the title. What is that about? who do I have to blow to get a deal? Oh yea that’s it, make sure a publisher wants to fuck you then you might get published, If you’re any good!

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