Reflect on rejection: 4 reasons your work is overlooked


If you are a serious writer with dreams of publication, then you have received a rejection letter or two or 20 from an agent or publishing house.


(Flickr: Daniel Borman)

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It can be heartbreaking, to be sure. But, more than that, baffling.

Read: Procrastination tips for well-meaning writers

Writers are often left puzzling over the rejection, especially if the response is little more than a “no, thank you,” scribbled across a form letter. What happened? What’s not to like about the manuscript?

Chances are there were a few things wrong.

Reflecting on Rejection

  • You need new tires for your car. Obviously, you will not go to your local pharmacy for assistance with your automotive needs. As in retail, the book industry is filled with publishers and agents who seek a certain kind of story or specialize in a particular genre. Many writers make the mistake of sending their work to the wrong agent or publishing house.

          Solution: Do your homework.

  • You are thrilled to introduce yourself to a superstar agent. But, you extend a sticky hand that still carries your syrupy breakfast. You have not exactly made a great impression. In this same way, if your introductory query letter is littered with errors and typos that superstar agent is going to be less than impressed.

          Solution: Ask a trusted colleague to read your cover letter for errors.

  • You pull the cake out of the oven. It smells perfect. But, a veteran baker knows to check the center with a toothpick to see if the cake is baked all the way through. If you have managed to secure an agent or editor willing to read the first few chapters of your book, then you need to be sure that you have sent along your absolute best stuff. Make sure that the plot is compelling and appropriately paced. Avoid cliches and make certain your characters are fully developed.

          Solution: Make sure your book is cooked — thoroughly.

  • You wouldn’t offer a steaming cup of tea to your house guests on a blistering hot summer day, would you? In this way, writers sometimes make the mistake of misreading their target market. When attempting to sell your book idea to an editor or agent, you must have a firm grasp on who your readers are and whether or not there is a sufficient audience for your project.

          Solution: Research your reader before you reach out to an agent.

Where have you gone wrong? Share your rejection letter stories in the comments section below.

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at EducatedWriter.com and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at kerrismabee.com.






Kerri S. Mabee

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