Once authors dive into the publishing industry, it is a must that they prepare themselves for rejection – in all shapes and sizes. Whether they are seeking an agent or trying to woo a publishing editor, it is demoralizing to realize that only a select few authors ever truly break through the barrier of traditional publishing. And the reasons do not differ that drastically.
6 Reasons for Rejection in Traditional Publishing
While writer’s styles and techniques may vary from one to another, most of them make the same mistakes – mistakes that traditional publishing professionals have little patience for. ChatEbooks lists down some of the most common reasons for author rejections in the traditional publishing world.
Most first-time authors fail to follow the necessary submission guidelines when proposing a book project to a traditional publishing professional. This is the fastest and easiest way to get rejected. If you cannot follow the guidelines, no one is going to give you the time of day. The publisher or agent of your choice will more than happily throw your manuscript and query letter away if you prove unwilling to follow their prescribed rules. So make a point to understand all of the guidelines and submission requirements of each agent/publisher of interest before soliciting their assistance.
The Wrong Genre
Different publishers want different things. The most fabulously written fantasy manuscript will not do you any good if you try to submit it to a publisher that has a specific preference for romance novels. A rejection is also likely if your book falls within a genre that is no longer selling. Some publishers are already producing so many books within a given genre that they cannot afford to saturate their market any further.
That said, before you approach an agent or publisher, do your research. Make sure their expertise and genre preference actually falls within your particular niche; otherwise, you will be wasting everyone’s time, including your own.
Poor Query Letters
Some agents and publishers make their decisions about working with a new author based on the quality of their query letter. If you cannot get the query letter right, then you are destined to get rejected. You must learn to successfully pitch your protagonist and his/her story in the first paragraph before delving into the synopsis in the second paragraph. Your objective is to hook the publisher right from the start.
There are a lot of authors who know how to tell a story but suffer when it comes to spelling and grammar. Unfortunately you have no hope of escaping rejection if you struggle with this particular issue. And the mistakes don’t necessarily have to be major ones. Most authors get rejected because of the simple grammatical and spelling errors that attract the ire of traditional publishing agents. So if necessary, and if you can afford to do so, consider hiring a professional to edit and proofread your query letter and manuscript before making any submissions. This is the only chance you will have to impress your publisher. You need to get it right the first time.
The worst thing you can do for your career as a writer is to try following the popular trend. A lot of traditional publishing professionals complain that the majority of manuscripts they receive are not authentic or organic and that they lack a unique voice. The simple fact is this: if your manuscript reads like something a publisher has seen several times before, be on the lookout for a rejection. Therefore don’t even bother writing or even submitting your work unless you believe you have a unique story of note to tell. Ultimately your story and voice must set you apart from any other literature in circulation.
Word count matters. The appropriate number of words for a standard size manuscript is roughly 100,000. Manuscripts that are either too long (over 200,000 words) or too short (under 50,000 words) are almost always automatically rejected because they do not fit the industry standard.
Rejection, like it or not, is a part of traditional publishing. In a way, it is because of the prominence of rejections within the traditional publishing arena that so many authors are choosing to go the self-publishing route. Nonetheless, the key is to use rejection as a tool for growth by learning from your mistakes and making progress with each failure.