Monday, October 1, 2018

Rejection Doesn't Mean What You Think it Means: 5 Not-So-Terrifying Reasons an Agent Might Reject You

The Twitter writing community has always been the place to go for support and encouragement when you’re feeling down about your stories. This week, Twitter’s #ShareYourRejections hashtag hasn’t disappointed. Bestselling and first-time authors are coming together to share the truth behind their rejections. Some hilarious, some sad, and some unbelievable—Twitter is proving the path to publishing isn’t all sunshine and roses, even for some of the biggest names in writing.

There’s another encouraging side to the rejection story. Most of the time, rejections don’t mean what you think they mean (i.e., we probably don’t hate your work). Here are 5 not-so-terrifying reasons an agent might say “no” to a manuscript:

1) We’re not the Right Agent for You

Everything about your book is fantastic, but we’re not the right person to sell it for you. It could be outside our genre, our field of expertise, or maybe we’re already representing a book just like it. As agents, we have a responsibility to our authors—and to you—to make sure the books we take on are the right books for us. Your goal in pursuing an agent isn’t just to find an agent, it’s to find the right agent for you. Finding the right agent will be the best thing for you and your book. 

2) The Manuscript is Too Long

The writing might be stellar, but we cannot pitch a book with such an enthusiastic word count. Your book is 70,000 words over our suggested count, and that’s just not something we can commit to. Chisel down your manuscript to something more manageable, and then we can talk. 

3) You Don’t Have Enough Platform

We’re head-over-heels for your book, but you haven’t built enough platform yet. It’s getting harder and harder to pursue publishing for authors who haven’t built a social media presence, or speaking platform. Keep working to market yourself and your brand. Every effort you put into selling yourself tells us—and future publishers—that you’re willing to put the same effort into selling your book. 

4) We’ve Seen a Lot of Sci-Fi This Week

It’s not that we don’t like your book—it’s just that we’ve seen a lot of books in your genre this week. We might send a rejection simply because we’re tired of reading the same ideas. Actively seek to create a fresh and exciting story that will stand out from the crowd, and make us stop and stare. 

5) You Self-Published

You’ve self-published your first book and—ouch—your sales numbers aren’t very high. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer, it could simply mean you haven’t found your marketing niche yet. A lot rides on sales numbers, though, and self-publishing gives us a first look at how well you perform selling your books. If you self-publish, make sure you sell as many copies as you can. That way, we (and your future publisher) can feel confident in your ability to turn books around. 

Rejection doesn’t mean defeat. Sometimes it’s just not the right time for your manuscript. Don’t give up—we’re all on the same team. Keep dreaming, keep writing, and keep querying!

Let's chat! What's one thing that encourages you to keep submitting, despite rejection?

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  1. This was such a fun post to read!

    I while I don't plan on querying a manuscript soon, I hope to in the future. I'll have to keep these things in mind!

    1. I even read my comment over to make sure there were no typos--and there's still and extra "I". *sigh*

  2. Thank you for sharing your tips! This is very helpful and informative! I’m looking forward to seeing more updates from you.

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  3. I appreciate this, especially because I bet agents often don't have time to say why they are rejecting you. The C.Y.L.E. videos inspired me to really start taking my blogging seriously, and I'm hoping to submit to Highlights soon to get started on building up my resume! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. PS. What encourages me to keep submitting after rejections is the fact that I believe the wmath world needs my book, my writer friends always encouraging me, and posts like this!

  5. I love reading your blog. Great stuff. I am Following now!