Are You Receiving Lots of Form Rejections?

Beginning Writer’s Answer Book

I get lots of form rejections that have little or no feedback on my individual work. What might be wrong?

Reasons for rejection can be incredibly subjective (indefinable issues of taste), or your work may not be polished enough. Aside from the quality and style of your work, consider if the following might apply.

  • Something similar is on file or was recently published. You’re not the only person with your idea. Often your work will be rejected simply because someone else beat you to it.
  • The timing is wrong. Editors change. Publishers cut back on their lists. The market changes. Sometimes it’s hard to hit things just right.
  • You don’t have adequate credentials (particularly if you’re writing a nonfiction article or book), or you don’t have an attractive marketing platform—a way to reach readers and promote your work.

If you’re attempting to get your book published, keep in mind that most New York agents and editors take on a new project or a new author only when they feel there’s solid potential for a significant or guaranteed return. Your book may be too "small" for some publishers to consider; if you believe that’s the case, start querying small or regional presses.

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