The story behind the story, part four: On (not) finding a publisher

Will it be published?

How to write a good exposure for a non-fiction book on Icelandic horses? Research commences

June 2022: How do I write an exposure?

During my time of writing science fiction and fantasy stories for US magazines, I picked up some information on how to write an exposure for novels in the American market.

But does this information also apply to German non-fiction? My internet research doesn’t yield many useful results.


So I start looking for possible publishers instead, hoping they will have author guidelines on their web pages.


By looking through my own collection of horse training books, and by googling the publishers of the most interesting books I find in online bookstores, I come up with a list of five or six publishers I want to send the book to. Two of them do have submission guidelines on their websites, so those three are the first ones on my list. I select the first one, and send my carefully written-and-thrice-rewritten exposure there, along with the first three chapters of the book, as specified in their guidelines.

July 2022: The first rejection

After six weeks of not-very-patient waiting, I get a nicely-worded but short rejection from the first publisher. The book does not fit in with their long-term program plan.


I study the rejection, trying to read between the lines. Is this a form rejection, carefully not saying that they hated the book?


Or does it mean they did like it, but didn’t think the style fit their program?

Did I do something wrong, something that I could correct if I knew what it was?


There’s no telling, so I sigh and send the book to the next two publishers.

Rejections are a fact of life. Nobody said publishing a book on horsetraining was easy

The book is on a fairly niche topic: A leisure rider's perspective on training a young horse

September 2022: What if nobody wants it?

By now, I’ve sent the book to five publishers total, and have heard back from one other after that first rejection.


This second reply was more detailed than the first one, saying that yes, they did like the book, but didn’t think they could reach the target audience. Which, given that it is a pretty specialized topic, may well be the case for more publishers than just this one.


Is this it, then? Do I just give up and accept that years of work have been for nothing?

Not an option. I start brainstorming other ideas.

Maybe I can turn it into a blog? But first, I will wait a few more months to see if another reply will come in from one of the remaining publishers.

January 2023: Hey, I’ve found another potential publisher

Still no response from the remaining three publishers. I’m starting to resign myself to the idea that the book will not be traditionally published, after all.

And then, on one of my sporadic visits to Facebook, I stumble upon some information that I hadn’t seen earlier: The contact information of the editor responsible for horse training books at a publisher I’d seen on Amazon and liked.


They don’t have any information for authors on their website, but trying them can’t hurt, can it? So I send my exposure to the editor, and get a personalized confirmation email that very day.
A good sign: This is only the second time I’ve gotten a confirmation that my submission has safely arrived in an editor’s inbox.


So now I’m back to waiting again – but not nearly as long as I expected: Only two weeks after the submission, my phone rings. The editor wants to publish the book! More on this in the next blog post.

Publishers for non-fiction books on Icelandic horse training aren't exactly plentiful

If you'd like to read more about the process of writing and publishing a book, stay tuned!


The next installment will tell you what happens after that longed-for call from an editor.


There are quite a few things to consider, from contract negotiations to getting the book ready, from unexpected self-doubts to properly celebrating a dream come true.

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