Thursday, March 10, 2016

Four Reasons Why Your MS May Have Been Rejected That Have Nothing to do with Your Writing.

Who hasn’t been discouraged by rejection letters at some point?

Today, I’ve removed my author hat and donned my publisher hat to give you four reasons why your MS may have been rejected that have nothing to do with how well you write. First the disclaimer. My views may be different than other publishers. I can only speak to the processes of Rebelight Publishing.

Upon receiving a rejection from a publisher or agent, authors often blame themselves, rationalizing that the problem must be their writing skills. While that could be, often it isn’t the case.

When I dive the slush pile, I first go after manuscripts that fit our publishing needs. As a company, we look at our book list and identify the holes. A few months ago, we determined a need for middle grade manuscripts under 30,000 words. I went to the pile, read those submissions, and dealt with those queries first. We requested fulls, read, and signed a couple authors. If you submitted a YA manuscript to us at that point, you’d be hearing crickets in your inbox. We had a need, and it was my job to fill it. That means those MG manuscripts had to take priority.

We are a small publishing house, and we don’t want to compete with ourselves, which is why we’ve
chosen to publish multiple genres. During each cycle, we try to publish a variety of books—some MG, some YA, some historical, some speculative, some contemporary. If you send us a YA high fantasy, and we’ve just signed a YA high fantasy, you’ll likely receive a rejection for the sole reason that we’ve already filled that spot. This has nothing to do with the quality of writing, the story, or your value as the author.

Another reason you might receive a rejection is that writing style isn’t what we’re looking for. We have a certain type of book we publish at Rebelight. That does not mean other styles are wrong or lesser. This is simply our preferences, and what we’ve found does well in the marketplace. While your style may not suit us, it may suit another publisher just fine. This is why you should query widely. You never know when what you’ve written is just what a certain publisher or agent is looking for.

Ooh, I said that word—marketplace. While writing is an art, publishing is a business. We want to sell book—lots of books. We have to make a judgement call about each book we publish. We make a huge investment of time, money and resources into each book. We have to determine if this is a book we can fully get behind and market. If we feel we can’t, no matter how great the writing, the manuscript is going to get a rejection.

However, sometimes it is the writing. If you are receiving a lot of rejections, enlist additional beta readers to see if there’s something you’ve missed. It never hurts to have an extra set of eyes on a manuscript. I’m just hoping that as you read this you realized there are a lot of different scenarios in play. The best thing to do is not take it personally.

It’s human to get discouraged, but don’t give up!

1 comment:

teri hales said...

I LOVE THIS! Thank you for the insight. I really appreciate the honesty here and the encouragement as I go through the query process for my children's books.