Minimize the Obstacles to Publication

When you’re a debut author trying to break in to traditional publishing, one of the most important things to remember is this:

Minimize the obstacles.

You already know it’s not going to be easy to break in, so you want to avoid making it even more difficult on yourself. This is why agents give so much advice on their blogs. Not every piece of advice applies across the board to every author, but we’re trying to help you have the best chance of attracting an agent and publisher.

Assuming you’ve written a terrific book…

What are some possible obstacles to finding an agent and publisher?

  • Not working on your book and your writing craft long enough
  • Manuscript word count outside of acceptable guidelines
  • Not being familiar with how publishing works and approaching it with unrealistic expectations
  • Wasting your time pitching your book to agents who don’t rep your genre
  • Pitching several books in different genres
  • Not being able to name a genre for your book
  • Not understanding who your audience is
  • Having a poorly written book pitch and/or query
  • Not having the right credentials or platform for your non-fiction book
  • Having no social media experience or presence

In any of these situations, it’s not that you can’t attract an agent and traditional publisher. It’s just that it could make it more difficult.

The reason I’m pointing this out is because for every piece of advice I give, writers come back to me and say, “But what about So-and-So Author? They did that and they’re published.” All I can say is, yes, there are plenty of exceptions to every rule. But ask yourself:

Do you really NEED to keep this obstacle in place, or can you eliminate it somehow, making your path a little easier?

When you read all kinds of rules and guidelines on getting published, don’t take it as “You MUST do this to get published,” but rather reframe it in your mind as:

If you can, eliminate this potential obstacle to getting traditionally published.

Have you encountered any of these obstacles to getting published? What are some others you’ve experienced?


If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!