Why manuscripts get rejected by publishers

Over the years I’ve had my share of rejection as a writer.

Many of these rejections were for poems, articles and stories I had submitted to magazines. Some were for children’s novels I have written. Some of the rejections were blunt; they didn’t want to publish my writing and no reasons were given. Some were polite and very brief. A few were encouraging and praised my writing. One notable rejection was a full page of suggested changes and a request to resubmit. (I’m still working on that one.)

Rejections come in many forms, but the reaction of the writer is often the same; devastation – or, at best, disappointment.  Writers who give out advice about writing on web sites or at conferences or who teach writing classes glibly say, ‘Don’t take rejection personally. They are rejecting the writing – not you.’ That’s all well and good, but it is still deflating to get a rejection letter, especially something like a novel you’ve slaved over for five or more years.

I’ve also had it drummed into me that I should always work on a manuscript until it is the very best I can present. From what I have heard and read, far too many would-be authors submit shoddy writing to publishers or agents. They don’t realise how easy this makes it for the editor or agent to reject that writing very quickly, perhaps in a few seconds. It’s a very competitive field. In order to get published your writing has to rise well above the ordinary, the mundane and the truly awful.

For a longer discussion on this topic I’d like to recommend the following article. The title says it all.