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What are publishers looking for in 2021?

If you do want to get published, a good idea is to look at what are publishers are actually looking for in their 2021 booklists. (pssst..... 2020 is already full).Here’s my take on it after a recent trip pitching some of my author’s books to publishers.

As an author you need to take a look at the current publishing market, and the climate. See if you can write one that is on-trend and you have a better chance of a publishing deal.


BIOGRAPHIES If you to start a career as an author seriously consider writing a biography of someone famous. Think sports, artists, politicians, influencers, serial killers, crime lords or just anyone in the public domain who is considered famous. African biographies of people who have influenced the African continent, for better or worse, will be considered.

SELF HELP BOOKS Books that help people to realise their human potential and improve their financial situation are always hot. Think of personal coaching, career coaching, financial coaching.

POLITICAL EXPOSES These books are often more the domain of journalists, but pitch a well-researched book that uncovers or changes our experience as citizens and you have a chance of a deal.

HISTORY Books that engage with history and deal with it in a contemporary fashion are in demand. Not sure what these are? Take a look at this genre in Amazon.

FIELD GUIDES AND NATURAL HISTORY WORKS Not ‘coffee table’ photographic books. Look closely at this genre. Boring? Not really.

MEMOIRS? I know that you want to hear differently... but again and again I get the feedback ... personal / misery memoirs are not easy to sell. What does that mean? Does it mean don’t write your own gripping story? No of course not. I also highly recommend self publishing or digital. But if you want to secure a traditional publisher it really does need to be gripping, revolutionary, commercial or gasp inducing.

COOKBOOKS Look at the trends. Vegan and plant-based eating is huge. So are LCHF, Paleo, and Banting eating trends. Remember that a cookbook is a larger project that includes the photography.

COMMERCIAL FICTION There is always a strong appetite for well-plotted and well-written fiction. Stick to the bigger genres like crime, romance, action, thrillers and make sure you know the conventions of your chosen genre. Don’t send your book off before it’s your absolute best version. (I think my next newsletter is going to be on ‘how NOT to pitch an agent with real life examples from my latest call for submissions).

* Please stay away from the non-genre called ‘African Fiction’. You are welcome to use Africa as a setting, but make sure your book fits into a clear commercial and international genre.

Remember if you submit your book now – in 2019 – your book will be on the book list for 2021. Seems a long way away? That’s because publishing is a long journey

Do you have a first draft that you really want to get ready to submit to publishers?

I have 4 places left to join our online Pitch to Published Bootcamp starting in 10 days You get a professional manuscript assessment, rewrite, get your pitch deck ready and send your book to publishers. Apply here


Do you have a story to tell? Explore all of course

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