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Reasons for Rejection, What every Writer Should Know.

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message 1: by Tina (new)

Tina Foster | 134 comments Mod
Reasons for rejection may vary and do not neccessarily reflect the quality of the writing by the author.

Yours may be in a genre that the editor or agent doesn't handle. It may be that the subject or theme is in a saturated catrgory and they are getting too many submissions on that particular subject. For instance, after 9/11 happened, I got tons of material dealing with terrorists. I still do. It became a saturated category quite fast.

Also, things like weight loss books, or cook books, unless you have a NEW slant on the subject are hard to get published right now. Books about surviving a disease, may have too small of a readership and be hard to publish. As one agent once said, "I'm not interested in the disease of the month."

Certain subjects or writing styles are just too hard to sell to publishers and therefore will be rejected.

Maybe the word count is too low, or too high, to fit with publisher's guidelines in your category. Since publishers only publish a certain number of titles per year, they may have all their slots filled until the following year.

NOTE: It can take from 18 months to 2 years AFTER you've signed a book contract with a publisher before your book hits store shelves. The wheels of publishing turn slowly. This is not counting the many months, and sometimes years, of sending out submissions and waiting for replies.

Maybe the subject matter just doesn't appeal to this particular agent or editor. For instance, I'll get submissions dealing with alternate history, or religious matter, which in the first place is hard to sell, cause you can't change history, and religious material is hard to sell on a national basis. It does better for smaller interest groups.

An agent may be backlogged and not taking on new material for the time being until they can get caught up. Possibly their client list if filled. One agent can only handle so many authors.

Most agents get hundreds of submissions per month. Therefore, they can pick and chose those projects which they feell has the most potential for sales. Basically, they are looking for the cream of the crop.

Or maybe, your writing skills are not polished enough and needs more work. You may have the most wonderful story, but if your manuscript is riddled with errors, poor grammar, typos, punctuation errors, or poor quality and amateurish writing, they won't read enough to find out if it is good or not. Learning the basic rules is essential for anyone who wants to make it as a writer and break into traditional publishing.

One of the FIRST reasons for rejection is improper manuscript formatting. The agent or editor see the physical layout of your manuscript BEFORE they even read one word of your story. If yours has "amateur" written all over it, this will generally garner a rejection. Knowing proper manuscript formatting is a must.

Maybe the opening does not pull them into your story. The trush is, you get from 1 to 5 pages to hook that acquiring editor, or literary agent into your story. They are not willing to read through several slow pages to see if things pick up. You've got to hook them in right from the start.

It could be that they just accepted a manuscript or published a novel with a similar plot or idea. They don't like to publish anything that is too similar to what they've already taken on, unless it is in a series.

There may be scheduling conflicts with the printer and they aren't taking any new projects until after a certain time because of filled slots with the printer, or editing obligations. They have to book these months in advance, especially at the larger publishers that have many differnt lines and imprints that they publish each year.

Maybe the material just isn't right for the line or imprints they publish. Check their guidelines to be sure.

Always go through your manuscirpt carefully to look for problems before sending it off. Always send out your BEST work. Never send a first or second draft. Make sure you've gone through it very carefully to look for potential problems. Maybe have some friends read it who are knowledgeable who can tell you if there are plot holes, or other problems that you didn't catch.

You want to have your own voice and your writing style be unique. But not so unique that you break all the rules of good writing.

There are other reasons for rejection, but these are the most basic.

Any comments, questions? Don't let me be the only one who posts comments.


message 2: by Sam (new)

Sam (lit-brit) | 9 comments This is really great info Tina...I have had a few rejections and the first thing you think of is 'my writing sucks!!' but it could be for any of the reasons you've listed as to why your manuscript didn't make the cut.

Thanks, makes me as an author see agents differently and realise how bogged down they really are.


message 3: by Tina (new)

Tina Foster | 134 comments Mod
That's why it can take several weeks to get a reply, and sometimes up to 6 months. Some don't bother to reply if they are not interested.

But always include the SASE with your submission, just in case one is interested. It's worth the price of a stamp.


message 4: by Sarah (last edited Jul 25, 2011 09:28AM) (new)

Sarah Weldon (sarahrweldon-author) | 31 comments Tina wrote: "Reasons for rejection may vary and do not neccessarily reflect the quality of the writing by the author.

Yours may be in a genre that the editor or agent doesn't handle. It may be that the su..."


Wow Thanks for that insight Tina, I have been rejected twice by Agents, the first didn't cover my Genre the second may have been bogged down they asked for a letter then a synopsis and then three chapters. Maybe I aimed to high it was the Caroline Sheldon Agency I will keep trying, and I don't take rejections to heart I just go back to the list and start again.

I read somewhere that Agents want ideas not manuscripts, I suppose it cuts their workload down, if your idea is good they will look further. Thank you so much I am really pleased I joined, and I look forward to chatting to you on all aspects of writing.

You're a star!


message 5: by Tina (new)

Tina Foster | 134 comments Mod
The writer should try to spark their interest with a good query letter. If you write a good query letter and make your story line, or plot sound exciting and intriguing, they will most likely want take a look at it.

The reason for the first three chapters, is that they want to see if your opening pulls them in and holds them. Also, this lets them see the quality of your writing skills.

A writer may have a wonderful story idea, but if the writing skills are amateurish, or riddled with common mistakes, it will be rejected.

So, take time to develop your writing skills. This will go much farther in getting your foot in the door. Often times, even a meadiocher story line, if written skillfully, will attract an agent or editor.

Keep in mind, that most writers have folders thick with rejections, before they ever got published.

Just saw a movie on the Lifetime channel about JK Rowling. Her first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before a children's publisher decided to take it on. Her first advance was $1,275 (in English pounds). They only printed 5,000 copies for the first printing. It took a couple of books published in England before she was accepted by an American publisher. The rest is history.


message 6: by Tina (new)

Tina Foster | 134 comments Mod
I just read through the top section. It's amazing how many typos I made, and even missed after I thought I'd caught them all.


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