Late last night when INTERN and Techie Boyfriend were walking through the park, Techie Boyfriend's supersonic ears detected the sound of two kittens somebody had abandoned in a cardboard box. INTERN has never had any kind of non-brine shrimp pet and was baffled re: what to do with said kittens, but luckily T.B. is some kind of expert and built them a doublewide kitten spaceship back at the apartment, complete with litter box lined with shredded drafts of INTERN's latest fiction project. Oh, and flashing LEDs.
Now, INTERN is just out of an editorial meeting, and her nose is still a bit sniffly from the kittens. Editorial wisdom of the day? Some books are not books, and some books that are books are not the books they think they are.
If your manuscript has gone as far as an editorial meeting, the Eds are going to be discussing not only where your book would go in the book store, whether it would sell, and whether it's any good, but whether your book is even a book at all.
-Maybe your book would make a better magazine article (i.e. you have one or two good points that you wang on for two hundred pages, with lots of filler.)
-Maybe your book would make a better blog, or rather, should remain a blog. (i.e. the up-to-the-minute cat updates that make your blog fun to read really wouldn't work on book publishing's geologic time frame.)
-Maybe your book would make a better greeting card (i.e. the first 99,990 words of your 100,000 word novel are just build-up to the lead character saying one cute sentence)
-Maybe your book would make a better fortune cookie (i.e. the first 99,990 words of your 100,000 word self-help book are just build-up to you revealing the one cute insight you've been snuggling for years.)
Even if the Eds decide your book is, in fact, a book, the question still remains: is your book really suited to the form you, the author, have imposed on it?
-Maybe your memoir would make a better self-help book. (i.e. you have an interesting topic and angle, but you decided to talk about yourself instead of your subject and frankly, your subject is more interesting)
-Maybe your novel would make a better philosophical text (i.e. you are an academic or a self-described philosopher who has a lot of lofty points to make about existentialism, and the characters in your "novel" are just mouthpieces for your pet theories)
-Maybe your narrative non-fiction book would make a better how-to book (i.e. you really want to write about your bicycle trip around Europe, but your descriptions of how to fix a bicycle are the best part...actually, they're the only part that's readable).
-Maybe your highly technical sci-fi book about an obscure supercomputer would make a better instruction manual...for said supercomputer...
Before submitting your manuscript for consideration—actually, before you even start writing the book in the first place—ask yourself if the form you've decided on is really the most appropriate, or if you just see a certain kind of book as having higher prestige. If you're writing a novel to simply show off your life philosophies, or trying to stretch a single magazine article until it's practically transparent (think Silly Putty), the Editors will call your bluff. Nobody sits around an editorial meeting saying, "Oh, a how-to book, how trashy...the author is clearly not sophisticated enough to write a novel about this subject." But plenty of manuscripts get thrown out because they were *meant* to be how-to books, or cookbooks, or whatever, but weren't.