Today’s post is courtesy of our Editorial Director, Kara Leigh Miller.
I see a lot of submissions, and unfortunately, as is the way with this business, I say “no” a lot more than I say “yes.” Believe me, I wish it were different. As an author myself, too, I have gotten my fair share of rejections, and they suck! I know they suck. And I hate sending them. So, why do I?
Here are the top 4 reasons I will reject a submission:
- Submission Guidelines Not Followed. Now, I’m not talking about sending three chapters when we only ask for the first 10 pages. Or not including a traditional query letter. No, I’m talking about sending your entire query package as a single (or several) attachment. Because of the threat of viruses, we don’t open any attachments we don’t specifically ask for, so if you send your original submission as an attachment, we will either delete it unread, or respond with a rejection. Please, please, please: always follow submission guidelines!
- Content. We are a Christian fiction publisher, and we have some very clear content “rules” about what we will and won’t accept. If you send an erotica submission (Yes, this has happened), we will reject it. Conversely, if you send a submission without any elements of faith, we will reject it.
- POV / Scene Break Issues. This is probably the number one issue I see with submissions, especially in romances where the POV alternates between the hero and heroine. The POV will ping-pong back and forth several times within a single chapter, utilizing scene breaks to indicate the change. This isn’t only jarring, it makes the story feel choppy and episodic. And that makes it extremely difficult to become fully engaged. Now, I know, you’re probably thinking: Why couldn’t you accept if the story is good and work on that during edits? It’s a simple fix, right? Yes and no. It’s easy to teach POV and proper scene break usage. It is not, however, a “simple fix” because it often requires scenes to be completely rewritten into a different POV or fleshed out to the point the author will be required to write thousands of new words. This process is very labor intensive for both the author and the editor.
- Subjectivity. This is one of the most dreaded words in publishing, but it’s so accurate. I’ve received submissions that did everything right–they followed guidelines, had the appropriate content, and the writing was sound. But for some reason, I just didn’t connect with the story or the characters. It can be hard to state exactly why I didn’t connect, but sometimes I just don’t. Not every book will resonate with every reader.
Well, there you have it–the truth behind why I often reject submissions. What are some of the other reasons you’ve been rejected? How do you deal with rejections?
6 thoughts on “N – No”
I’ve been rejected for a story being “too quiet” and for historical fiction being a a tough sell in the marketplace at the time.
Oh, yes, the marketplace. That can certainly be a deciding factor.
Subjectivity is the killer every time. Great post.
I’m interested in the scene-break/pov issues. As a new writer, I could totally see myself making that mistake without even realizing it. Do you have any tips for avoiding it?
Oh, those are some great things to keep in mind while querying. I hadn’t even thought of the scene break issue. Thankfully I mainly write from one point of view, so that hasn’t been a problem I’ve had to deal with. And yes! Subjectivity is difficult, because it can be hard to relate to that one, and yet it’s so real. Thanks for sharing!