At 2007 Killer Nashville, a trio of extremely knowledgeable publishing pros held a panel on the most common reasons why a manuscript is rejected by an agent. Below you’ll find part two of this post series.
Keep in mind that the panelists were discussing why a manuscript will be rejected, not a novel synopsis or query letter. They were talking about problems within the writing.
Panelist No. 3: Maryglenn McCombs
Editor at Oceanview; book publicity specialist
Maryglenn’s top reasons why
your manuscript can be rejected:
1. Not following the publisher’s (or agent’s) submission guidelines. The guidelines exist for a reason.
2. Early overpopulation—too many characters at the beginning of a story, especially when they’re introduced quickly. She said she received one submission that had 40 names in the first chapter. If the reader has to flip back pages to clarify who’s who, the writer is in trouble.
3. Not having consistent tense. Don’t start a story in past tense and then switch to present in the next chapter.
4. Sex scenes with lurid and unnecessary details.
5. (For the query letter or nonfiction book proposal)—lack of touch with reality. Mentioning Oprah or saying that your work will be a bestseller shows you’re not a professional.
Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:
- Feb. 11, 2017: Writers Conference of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN)
- Feb. 16–19, 2017: San Francisco Writers Conference (San Francisco, CA)
- Feb. 24, 2017: The Alabama Writers Conference (Birmingham, AL)
- Feb. 25, 2017: Atlanta Writing Workshop (Atlanta, GA)
- March 25, 2017: Michigan Writers Conference (Detroit, MI)
- March 25, 2017: Kansas City Writing Workshop (Kansas City, MO)
- April 8, 2017: Philadelphia Writing Workshop (Philadelphia, PA)
- April 22, 2017: Get Published in Kentucky Conference (Louisville, KY)
- April 22, 2017: New Orleans Writers Conference (New Orleans, LA)
- May 6, 2017: Seattle Writers Conference (Seattle, WA)
- May 19–21, 2017: PennWriters Conference (Pittsburgh, PA)
- June 24, 2017: The Writing Workshop of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
- Aug. 18–20, 2017: Writer’s Digest Conference (New York, NY)