10 reasons why your novel was rejected by a publisher
March 02, 2016 at 4:16 PM
There are many reasons in this tough publishing environment why your novel has not been accepted by a publisher. Many will be connected to the quality of your writing, but there will also be other factors that influence a publishing decision.
Publishers need to be able to easily identify a target readership for your book. This means that when you’re writing you need to be clear about who your readers might potentially be. If you’re writing in a particular genre, become very familiar with it so you can see how your novel might fit into it.
Here are 10 reasons why a publisher might say ‘no’.
- Your novel is too long – over 100,000 words
The longer the novel the greater the production costs. Your novel would need to be of outstanding quality to make a publisher willing to invest in these extra costs. Most long novels benefit from being tightened and trimmed. Make sure yours isn’t too baggy.
- Your novel doesn’t have the ‘wow’ factor
Your writing might be of a good standard, but what you have to say isn’t very original or interesting.
- Weak characterisation
Your characters aren’t sufficiently well rounded and nuanced. They don’t jump off the page as real people whose goals and challenges a reader can become engaged with. If the reader isn’t engaged and couldn’t care less – they’ll put the book aside.
- Your novel doesn’t fit within the publisher’s list
You need to do your homework before you send your manuscript to a publisher. For example, there’s little point in submitting a sci-fi novel if they don’t publish in this category.
- Lacks a strong idea
If the plot or story line is weak then you haven’t been sufficiently clear what your story is about during the writing process. You don’t’ have an engine to drive the book. The test is to be able to sum up what your book is about in two to three sentences. Screenwriters call this snapshot a ‘logline’. It’s also known as the ‘elevator pitch’.
- Treatment of your subject matter
Perhaps you haven’t found anything fresh to say about your topic. Provide an original viewpoint on the subject via your characters actions and reactions. Think outside the box.
- Clumsy dialogue and sentence structure
There’s no excuse for this. Read your work aloud to pick up any clangers or get a skilled reader to assess your work before you submit it to a publisher. Look for the rhythm and cadence in your writing to refine your sentences. Dialogue should bring your characters to life on the page.
- Too much telling and not enough showing
Convert your ‘telling’ into compelling scenes. Enable your readers to observe events and characters as they gradually unfold and reveal themselves.
- The pace is too slow
Test your manuscript out on readers before you submit it to a publisher. Get your readers to identify any points in your novel where their attention flagged. Don’t bore your readers. They’re looking for story involvement – give it to them.
- Poor proofreading
You haven’t proofed your manuscript adequately. It’s full of unnecessary grammatical errors, misspelling and so on.