10 Ways to Never Get Published

Getting your book published means that actual people will read it, and who wants that? Here are 10 bona fide ways to make sure your manuscript never sees the light of day.

1. Perfect your work. Revision is for amateurs; perfection is the goal. Your book can always be better than it is today! Specifically, you should change only one word at a time and then read the whole book out loud to yourself before deciding if it’s improved the work as a whole. Bonus points if you give the change a week to really sink in. There’s always posthumous publication!


Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.55.36 PMColumn by Donna Gambale, who works an office job by day, writes young adult novels by night, and travels when possible. She is a contributing editor for the Guide to Literary Agents blog and was a contributor to the 2012, 2013, and 2015 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market. She freelances as a copyeditor and proofreader of both fiction and nonfiction. She is co-founder of the book recommendation site This Is What You Should Be Reading. You can find her on Twitter @donnagambale and @YourNextReadIs.


2. Keep your writing to yourself. Critique partners? Beta readers? Pssh. Who needs them! You — and only you — know your book and what’s best for it. No one else’s opinion counts.

3. Ignore what’s being published. Reading in your genre will only poison your creativity! There’s absolutely no need to know the average word count of a middle grade novel, because your middle grade is 430,000 words, and every single one of them is absolutely critical.

(How much money can you expect from selling your first book?)

4. Procrastinate. This is simply “marinating time” for your ideas. The most effective way to do so is by binge watching multiple TV series (minimum five seasons each!) on Netflix between each page you write.

5. Stick to your first draft. If #1 isn’t for you, then JUST SAY NO to revision! Your first instincts are always right, like last week, when you bought yourself a $300 lime green fedora — timeless style!


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6. Hand-deliver your manuscript to an editor. Editors LOVE personalized visits because they’re really not busy at all — that’s just a rumor. Bonus points if you put rainbow-colored glitter in the envelope with the manuscript before you seal it.

7. Go online and bash all books published in your genre. They’re terrible. All of them. And you don’t even have to read them to know that.

8. Defend your writing against every critique. If someone has managed to get their hands on your precious book baby and proceeds to gently suggest improvements, simply remind them that you are an arteeeest and that they must just not be evolved or intelligent enough to understand your art form.

(Do writers need MORE than one literary agent?)

9. Know that the whole world is your audience. 80-year-old grandmas? They’ll love it! Toddlers will babble about it endlessly. And your neighbor’s teen son will sing its praises… guaranteed. You’re writing for all of them!

10. Stop writing. Writing is HARD, so why should you even waste your time if you don’t already have a book deal? One day, you’ll definitely end up wedged on the subway next to a publishing exec who will offer you a seven-figure, multi-book deal on concept alone. Until then, relax and enjoy the simple life — because when you’re famous, you’ll miss it!


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6 thoughts on “10 Ways to Never Get Published

  1. WriterCA

    Understand the author is trying to be funny and light-hearted, but I find the tone to be a little condescending. I’m sure the author has the best intentions and grateful she is motivated to provide tips, but there are people out there who are very serious in getting their break who would rather simply get the facts rather than have to navigate the satire. I recommend this blog reconsider its standards for guest posts in the future

  2. AsiLSeMog28

    I’ve read a similar list from WD and GLA over a dozen times, the only thing ‘new’ per se is that the advice is stated in a derogatory way. I’ve never found ridicule, much-less an invitation for self-ridicule, to be a healthy way to motivate people to keep trying despite being stuck in rejection-ville.

  3. keleitha

    Oh, I can relate to #1 in particular — closely followed by #2 (though not by choice).
    My editor says: “your book is publisher-ready.”
    Me says: “No it’s not. There are inconsistencies in it.”
    Editor: “There are no inconsistencies.”
    Me (muttering to self) “Yes, there are…you put them there.”
    Me to editor: “Have a look at this list and you’ll see what I mean.”
    Editor: “They aren’t inconsistencies.”
    Me (muttering to self) “When one character is suddenly added to a scene when he’s not supposed to be there it’s a bl—y inconsistency.”
    Me to editor: “I’ll go through it again to be sure.”
    #2 Beta reader? Critique partner? The operative word here is “partner” – you read my MS and I’ll read yours. Sounds fine and dandy until it’s their turn to read yours, then it’s, “Sorry, I’m really busy right now.” or “Oh I don’t like to read other people’s manuscripts – I’m worried I might steal their idea.”
    I’d give my eyeteeth for a beta reader who’d be honest in their feedback…well, I would if I had eyeteeth, but you get the idea :-/

  4. adenaAuthor

    If your manuscript doesn’t find a home right away, keep trying. Don’t take rejection personally; just move on to the next publisher on your list. Often it takes time, effort, and many submissions to get published. Successful writers are those who don’t quit!


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