Monday, August 13, 2012

13 Reasons Why you get a rejection


The SCBWI 2012 Summer Conference was wonderful and also bewildering, in the amount of information they gave us to process.  We will probably have more than one blog post on this. I am delighted to go first.

I attended a breakout session at SCBWI with Ruben Pfeffer, an agent at EastWest Literary.
 Rubin has had a storied career in publishing. He started as a designer with MacMillan Publishing, and then spent twenty seven years at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich where he eventually became President of the Trade Division. He served as SVP and Publisher for Simon and Schuster Books. Divisions reporting to him included S&S Books for Young Readers, Atheneum, McElderry Books, and Aladdin Paperbacks. In 2008 he launched Allyn Johnston’s imprint at Simon and Schuster, Beach Lane Books.

 In 2009 Ruben became a partner at East West Literary Agency. Rubin’s breakout session was entitled The Symbiotic Relationship Between Agent And Client: Straight Talk About Mutual Success.

I am not going to give you his whole talk, but I will list the Thirteen Reasons Why Your Manuscript Is Rejected.
 (Sorry folks. Could not resist the Jay Asher tribute. )  
Since Ruben has worked both ends of the business, I am sure this is a good list.




1.     The Editor didn’t connect on an emotional level with the book. (If you have to sell it to the publisher, the marketing team and your fellow editors and then spend two years with the manuscript nursing it through the process, you have to love it.)

2.     The Editor doesn’t feel it will sell in today’s market.

3.     Voice: The voice either didn’t feel right, or, it felt too familiar.

4.     Lack of Platform (I wish I had taken better notes on this one. I think it means the author doesn’t have a social presence in the media. )

5.     The Editor doesn’t like the subject matter.

6.     The Editor tried that kind of book before and didn’t feel it worked.

7.     The Editor already has a similar book on his list.

8.     The Editor didn’t like the format. Be sure you have formatted correctly. No typos or grammatical errors.

9.     You are writing in a crowded space. (i.e., right now, there are a LOT of paranormal stories. The Editor may not feel there is room for another.)

10.  The Editor doesn’t feel your story is for children.

11.  Library Funding is down. (I love this one.)

12.  Barnes and Noble is not carrying this kind of book

13.  The Editor doesn’t feel your book is special enough.

The next slide Ruben showed was a rejection letter from an unnamed house listing the reasons they didn’t want a book he was offering them. (The rejection listed a few of the reasons above including not special enough)

The following slide was a letter from another unnamed publisher who raved over that same book. That editor felt it was perfect.

The moral:

Keep submitting. Everyone will not love your work. You need to find the right home. Dr. Seuss had 32 rejections before he found a home for his first book. Jack London had 608 rejections, all of which he kept.

 In the end it is all so worth it. I just received my first editorial letter from Beach Lane Books and I'm over the moon.

If you get specific notes from more than one person and the notes are similar, rejoice and look seriously at them. I have another letter from an editor on my adult book listing the changes she feels should be made. She's the second person who mentioned that one of my story arcs should include more barriers. I know both of these people are right on the money. I'm busy making the changes. They will go to my critique group before they go back to her.

Happy rewriting!

39 comments:

  1. Your advice was concise and on point. Thanks for the quick but, valuable read. I need to allow more critiques of my writing.

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    1. I believe passionately in a good critique group. I good group will never tell you how or what you should write, but will hwlp you refine your own style. I am so grateful to my fellow Pen and Inkers

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  2. Sue--

    These reasons are always true with a few new ones that I've never seen before. Thanks for sharing. Great list!

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  3. Such helpful info...thanks for posting!

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    1. You're welcome, Sharon. Thanks for visiting

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  4. Terrific, Susan. I have a good friend whose agent is with EastWest, and she loves it!

    Many thanks for your posting this!

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    1. I got permission to send them one picture book. I plan to do it. They sound wonderful. I really
      Iked

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  5. To me a platform means having something for which your books can fly from; like a speaker presence, a super popular blog, If you're known for your special subject through the media, if you are involved in a college/large business,an expert on your subject and able to express it publicly, Another book you have written that is well known, if you are a celebrity,a connection with museums, or media, and the list goes on. Our books need a runway to take off from.

    Thanks for posting these great reasons Susan. Rejections do not necessarily reflect that our work is not to standards,but rather that we are shopping for the perfect home for our well nurtured baby. That's my 3 cents

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    1. Susan, I think you are right on the money. Thanks for commenting.

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  6. Great article and true on all accounts.

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  7. Hi Susan,
    These are all good reasons for rejection; NOW, to find that single reason for acceptance!

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    1. The reason for acceptance is that they LOVE your book. And there is someone out there who is going to do just that.

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  8. I didn't attend the conference this year. Thanks for these valuable reminders!

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  9. I love His 13 reasons, some of the reasons pertain To illustrators as well . KC:-

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  10. Very helpful! I got a critique from Rubin and I was very impressed with him! These are good things to keep in mind. Thank you!

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  11. Reason 14: The World is Ending
    Sincerely,
    Optimistic Observer

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  12. Thanks for sharing those points with us. Very helpful

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  13. Great to have some insider reasons for rejection. I love those two contrasting slides and absolutely agree that we need to keep submitting to find the right person for a particular book. All the best with your own book!

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  14. Love the 13 reasons. Thanks for sharing. Even if there are 100 reasons, don't give up.

    Never Give Up
    Joan Y. Edwards

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  15. Very good key points. Thank you for sharing!

    Rose McQuestion

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    1. Congrats on the Beach Lane Books editorial letter & all that signifies. May the revision/editing process be fraught with learning & may the book do famously well. And thanks for the post.

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  16. Thank you for sharing this, it's very informative.

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  17. Never try to reply to comments on an iPad! I thank all of you for your comments. as Joan says, there are 110 reasons to keep trying.

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  18. Susan, thanks for this summary. The other message I got from SCBWI was to keep writing what you love and let the market catch up with you. Certain stories may be out of favor now, but they may not be in a few years. If you keep writing, you'll be ready when they become the next hot thing.

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    1. Yes. If you write to the current trend, it will be out of date before its published.

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  19. Replies
    1. Thanks, laurisa. I'm next on the borrowing list for Rock of Ivanore. Can't wait

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  20. Lovely article Susan and congrats on your first editorial letter!!

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  21. Great post, especially the final message that you have to keep on trying (after you fix your typos and formatting!) :)

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    1. Thanks Kathy. Can't wait for your next book.

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  22. Susan,
    I can't wait to finish my darn memoir so I can start the rejections rolling in and my book getting better and better. I know I've got a LONG road ahead, but look forward to the journey.
    Thanks for the informative post.
    Blessings,
    Jessica Aday Kennedy
    The Differently-Abled Writer and Speaker

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    1. Well, Jess, I've seen you work and I believe you will do it.

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  23. HI Susan, thanks so much for this blog post and list. It was an eye-opener, but also encouraging.

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  24. Good points. People so often forget that the publisher has an entire list for each season, and the books have to work together, both compliment and contrast, to get a good balance. Sometimes, the timing's just really off.

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