I am the publisher who has sent my fair share of rejection letters to hungry aspiring authors. It wasn’t easy knowing that they had put their heart and soul into writing their manuscript, but I had good reasons. Let me expand further by addressing the top ten reasons for rejecting a manuscript for publication.
- The manuscript was full of grammatical, typographical errors or otherwise junked. You know you have a poorly written manuscript when you can’t get past the opening sentence in the first chapter. surprisingly enough, it happens more often than I care to remember. I’ll give you the perfect example. “The sun peeked as Thomas stood on the water’s edge. His eyes flushed with tears as they fell to the ground.” What is wrong with that opener? Read it again to absorb the details. By the way, this is a real example. Do you see any grammatical errors? What about any typos? What about excess words? What about misused words? Bingo! I honestly couldn’t get over the third word, “Peeked.” Misused words happen far more than not. In this example “Peeked” is the word to use if someone were to peek inside a box, a room, or into the refrigerator. Peaked is used when something, anything as made it to the top as in the sun peaked. Have I piqued your interest? It is that important to locate these type of words that are often misused. Now onto my next problem with the opener. Frankly, the author could have left it with “His eyes flushed.” That’s it. We know that when eyes flush, it’s with tears. Next, we already know that tears travel downward; so, why the unnecessary words? Again, that’s when editing comes in. It would have been far better for the author to have written something else about our character to draw us in. Here’s the example: “The sun peaked as Thomas stood on the water’s edge. His eyes flushed as his throat tightened. I can’t believe she drowned, I miss her.
- The author rambles on and on about unimportant things that don’t direct the plot or the character forward. I realize that as novelists we must describe places, things, events and characteristics of our characters. We don’t have to go overboard and use two pages to describe a character’s apartment or office or anything else. If you do, it gets very wordy and has nothing to do with the story and readers lose interest quickly. Don’t bog your readers with so much detail they can’t enjoy the story. The important things to include are: sights, sounds, smells, something out-of-place or out of the norm and possibly how something feels to the touch. That’s far more attractive to readers.
- There is nothing new or attractive inside your novel. It’s important to face the facts. There is a great deal of competition in all genres. If your novel comes across as I’ve read this before, then it’s going to be rejected. Find new twists and turns and give your readers something they never have read.
- Your genre isn’t what that publisher specializes. For instance, I often received self-help books. I’m sorry to say, no matter how good it was written, the company I worked for only published non-fiction in all genres. Always do your research and submit to publishers who specialize in your genre to avoid rejection.
- The author lives in his or her own fantasy world. Believe it or not, in the book market today there is so much competition that a publisher may not want to take a chance on you if you have no presence on social media. Trust me, once they get your book, they do a Google search on you. If they find that you are active, that’s a plus, unless you come across on the crazy side. Watch what you post. Do you constantly appear with a glass of wine in your hand with glazed over eyes and slobbering drunk? No publisher wants to deal with a crazy drunk. I’m just saying, this part of your career is in your hands. Remember as an author you are forming a brand – you.
- Over selling yourself, basically lying in your query letter. It’s one thing to toot your own horn, but to say you will be the best-selling author because your mother says so or because you write just like James Patterson or Anne Rice isn’t doing yourself any favor. Also, don’t claim you’re an expert on something unless you really are, then be able to back it up.
- Once rejected, consider yourself rejected only by that publisher and not the world. I say this because I have received countless letters asking for me to take a second look. They beg, they plead or embarrass themselves with unbecoming choice of words including profanity. Seriously, move on. When I get those letters, not only did I throw them away, I had a file of DO NOT CONSIDER ANYTHING FROM THIS AUTHOR. Publishers are busy people and must be respected. What this also did was to turn me off to accepting any revisions. Had the author wrote me a nice thank you note for my feedback and said I am taking courses, I’m honing my skills, I’m hiring a developmental editor etc., they had my attention and I would have likely read the revision.
- Author couldn’t answer basic questions over a phone call such as: who is your target audience, where do you see this book going, have you considered how you’ll market the book? If you aren’t well-spoken on the phone, what makes me as a publisher think you are going to be able to handle television or radio interviews?
- The book isn’t formatted correctly. Bad and intolerable formating is one of the greatest sins of a novelist. Need I say more.
- The pacing of the book is scattered. It’s hard to follow a book where you’re jumping around within a scene. Make sure every scene you write as a beginning, middle and end which includes conflict. Don’t bore your reader.
There are a lot of other reasons, but I wanted to include my pet peeves. If you have any specific question, go to the contact page and ask me. I’ll try to answer it in one of my blogs. Also, be sure to subscribe to this blog for more tips from Absolute Author.