The Top Three Reasons My Office Rejects Submissions

So you got a rejection saying the submission isn’t right for us? That’s a typical decline, isn’t it? Frustrating, I know. But it’s typical because it’s so common. Let’s look at the top three reasons my office sends rejection letters.

  • The submission isn’t right for us. When you receive this letter, you may feel as though we blew off your work and chose a pig-in-a-poke excuse because we had to fill in a blank. But in fact, this is the number one reason we must decline many submissions. Why?

1. The author didn’t research to discover we don’t represent the category in question.

2. We don’t think the topic will find a place with the editors we know.

3. The author took a chance by thinking we might make an exception for him.

  • The market is too tight. Unfortunately, we must turn down many excellent submissions that at other times, we might have been able to accept. We must consider our knowledge and understanding of the current market when evaluating any and all proposals. And though this may seem unfair to the talented author, one major reason to engage a literary agent in the first place is for her knowledge of the current market. Besides, you may meet a different agent who knows three editors looking for a book on The Breath Mint and Garlic Diet. If that’s your book, wouldn’t it be in your best interest to work with an agent who knows those editors?
  • We just didn’t like it. You can shout “That’s not fair!!!” from the rooftops and we’d agree. This is the most unfair reason to send a decline. And this is why we try not to admit this in our declines. But look at it this way, do you want your agent to be so lethargic about your work that he says to editors, “You don’t want to buy this, do you?” And since there are A LOT of agents, another agent – one who loves your work and is eager to represent you – is a better fit. That agent may even be a different agent in the same agency.

So there you have it, the reasons we must reject some manuscripts. There are other reasons, but these tend to be the most common.

Your turn:

If you’ve experienced several rejections, what did you find to be the most common?

If you were an agent, why would you turn down a proposal?

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