Why Your Manuscript Can Get Rejected (Part 3)

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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

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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.

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