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Top 3 Reasons Why Fiction Manuscripts Get Rejected

11 January 2015

From Authors Publish:

My number is 28, what’s yours?  You know, the number of times a Literary Agent or Publishing House sent you the “Thank you, but no” letter.

As writers we research the best possible way to write a query letter; how to manipulate our 350 page manuscript into a one page synopsis. We review all possible avenues for our baby to grow into an adult.  Yet we are no closer to that elusive yes.

Haven’t you ever wanted to simply hit reply and ask why?  Well, I did, and you might be surprised to learn the answers.

A Literary Agent, an Editor, and a Published Author walk into a bar…

Sam Hiyate, Literary Agent – The Rights Factory

When asked what his top 3 reasons for rejecting fiction manuscripts were, Sam replied, “Three?  I only have one, but I can give you three examples.”

1)     I can’t sell it.

a.     I can’t get excited about it: When I get something in, it’s my job to get excited about the manuscript and to find people who will get just as energized.  I need a reason to read past the query, and a desire to absorb what I’m offered.

b.     The writing itself: All stories need to start sharply and carry on at a good pace.  They need to have a compelling plot or character we like or like to hate.  The best writers take you to a place you cannot even comprehend.  I need a reason to turn the page.

c.     The genre:  Every agent specializes.  There are certain genres we follow and have built relationships with publishers around those genres, and there are those we haven’t.  I won’t read a manuscript if it’s a poor fit for me, or it’s obvious the author hasn’t done their research.   People need to listen to what we represent – it’s those kinds of books we understand.

. . . .

Wendy Lawrance, Editor – Great War Literature Publishing

When asked what her top 3 reasons for rejecting fiction manuscripts for GWL were, Wendy said, “What, only three?”  After settling on 6 reasons we worked through how each directly related to the publishing arena and came up with the following as her top 3.

1)     Self-Publishing: This entity has become the bane of many traditional publishers’ lives.  Self-publishing is great in allowing first-time and unknown authors to get their work out there.  However, when a book has already been published, the traditional publisher has to think very hard about how much time and money they are willing to invest in a book which may give them several legal issues, may have already run its course (in terms of sales), or may have caused irreparable damage to the author’s reputation (if the book happened to suffer from poor editing and/or presentation).

. . . .

3)     Arrogance: This is a belief in the author that their book is better than anyone else’s, that it will be an automatic bestseller, and that they will be approached by multiple film studios for the movie rights.  Accompanying this is the belief that the publisher essentially owes them a contract with a hefty advance and immense royalty rates.  It’s good to have confidence in what you’ve written, but this can be taken too far.

. . . .

When I asked Wendy about the insurgence of self-publishing and its impact on traditional publishing, she not only focused on the importance of the issues mentioned above but the expectations of authors:

I would never say don’t self-publish, but if, having tried this, you decide it’s not for you and that you want to pursue traditional publishing, then, by all means, go ahead. However, I’d recommend doing it with a different book to the one you’ve produced yourself – although preferably not a sequel!

Those who anticipate that, if they self-publish, a traditional publisher will come along and snap them up, are being unrealistic.  This happens on only a very few occasions, when the publisher is certain they will get a return on their investment.  This also assumes that traditional publishers read self-published books all the time, which, bearing in mind how many new books are self-published every day, is impractical.

Link to the rest at Authors Publish and thanks to Catherine for the tip.

Agents, Big Publishing

75 Comments to “Top 3 Reasons Why Fiction Manuscripts Get Rejected”

  1. My response would be: “Why do I want to be traditionally published? For any reason? What, exactly, can traditional publishing offer to me that is a benefit?”

    Let’s see…I could give up my rights forever, write a story that isn’t what I initially intended, have no control over editing or cover art, and make considerably less on each copy sold than I do now. Not to mention paying an extra ten-to-fifteen percent to an agent.

    Sure! Where do I sign up! I’m wetting myself with excitement!

    • Yeah.

      No thanks.

      • All those needy, unrealistic, greedy and entitled writers demanding things from agents and BigPub. Must be tiresome for these poor people.

        Good thing there’s less and less of us querying them everyday.

    • My favorite? Right of first refusal for any subsequent books written in the same or competing genres.

      Yeah… I rejected an offer that would have paid for my house over a refusal to budge on that very clause just last year. No thanks.

      • In “the same or competing genres…?” Oh, good grief. Why didn’t they just say, “Any subsequent books,” and be done with it? 😛


      • How do you mean you rejected it? But they were doing you such a big favor when they offered you the deal. /end sarcasm

        Years ago I got an offer for a fiction I have over at fictionpress from what I think was a member of Warrior Forum. What I really hated about that offer was not the amount they were offering or the grabs of right that they were trying to make, but the tone in which he tried to convey how nice he was being and what a big favor he was making me with his offer, while in fact, he was trying to get his greedy hands on my IP for nothing. Every time I read articles with a similar theme as the one above, I remember that offer and how the same the agents’ and publishers’ attitude is.

    • Agreed. Got a horrid offer and walked. I’m not interested no matter how hard the uphill climb is. And, I don’t suffer from Arrogance, I just don’t.

  2. In my case, back in the day, I heard reasons such as (and I can prove these):

    “No foreign settings (the book was set in Iowa)”
    “No time travel stories (guilty as charged)”
    “No divorced main characters (really)”
    “Great voice, terrific story, not my thing”
    “This sounds really boring”
    “Not quite there yet (after 7 small press contracts)”

    Can you see any reason for me to continue on this particular dead end street?

    • You should write a book about an American in Paris who travels back in time to divorce his wife before she is even born. To make it interesting, he fights Nazis on the way back and also meets Superman.

    • “No foreign settings (the book was set in Iowa)”

      There’s your problem right there. That pubilsher or agent probably was not interested in fantasy. Everybody knows there is no such place as Iowa.

      Here is the complete geography of America, from east to west:

      • Marthas Vineyard
      • Boston
      • Long Island
      • Manhattan (all praise the Great Manhattan!)
      • Jersey City
      • Empty space
      • California.

      Note that Manhattan is the exact geographical centre of the country, with three places to the east of it and three to the west. It is therefore the Most Important Place There Is, and it is entirely right and obvious that this must be so.

      The empty space may not be quite completely empty. One hears legends about tribes of roaming savages, who periodically assemble in one place to hold NASCAR rallies. But nobody takes these legends seriously, and anyway, even if such tribes exist, they are obviously not people.

      H. Smiggy McStudge

    • @ Deb Not DBD

      “No foreign settings (the book was set in Iowa)”

      You forget that, to the elite Manhattan Literati, Iowa is a foreign country! 🙂

    • Almost all my books are set in Iowa. Or the future. 😉

  3. A publishing company is not a charity. If they smell money they will publish your book. Business is tough.

    • The problem is most publishing companies are wearing nose clips.

      • Or they’ve been shoveling s**t so long they couldn’t smell a rose if it was shoved up their noses!

        Let’s face it, they only want what they think will be ‘sure things’, sadly for them they have no idea what any one reader actually wants to read — never mind the rest of us! (Years ago there was a pair of ‘movie buffs’ on one of the news programs that would tell you how ‘great’ a movie was. I finally figured out that “Two thumbs way up!” from them really meant that the movie was so bad they’d had to stick their thumbs up their backsides to keep from crapping themselves as they ran from the movie house …)

        Write what you like and then put it out there however you can. (Then pray to your god(s)/deity(s) that those that will enjoy your work will somehow find it — there’s a lot of chafe out there hiding your little grain of thought! 😉 )

  4. I clicked to the original website of this article. Something jogged vague memories here. They had links to FREE writing/publishing guides.

    Went to these guides, and… surprise! It’s ASI.

  5. I receive Kristin Nelson’s newsletter. She is one of the few Good Agents (how many agents wouldn’t have fallen out with Hugh Howey when he turned down multi-million offers to opt for a print-only deal?)

    She said that last year, she received 35,000+ submissions. She took on one new client.

    One top reason you’ve been rejected has to be that virtually everyone is rejected.

    • This Lexi. 🙂
      It’s easy to give rational reasons until you look at the numbers. Then the lottery is obvious.
      Even if you hit all the marks, your odds are astronomical.

    • Holy cow. She’s one of the last agents I submitted to (back in ye olden days of 2009 or so). I’m glad I didn’t wait for a reply to my query before self-publishing.

  6. I chose to submit to readers. Very few rejections.

  7. Thank god I don’t have to care about this cr*p anymore.

  8. Smart Debut Author

    Some of us started after all this “querying” silliness stopped being in vogue. From day one, we cut out the useless middlemen and built our own careers and incomes by pleasing our readers.

    To us, querying sounds like a demeaning joke that desperate old writers once fell for… and that some of the dumb ones still do.

    I think we’re the new normal now.

    • ^ This.

      I laugh every time I see someone say self-pubbers are desperate because traditional publishing rejected them.

      How do you reject someone who never bothered to approach you?

      • Smart Debut Author

        No kidding, Scath. 🙂

        That “self-publishers are angry trad-pub rejects” meme cracked me up.
        The only people I hear saying it are:
        1) Publishers losing market share
        2) Agents losing writers
        3) Trad-pub writers losing readers
        4) Sad pseudo-intellectuals losing their imaginary sense of cultural elitism

        Angry rejects? 🙂

        Might be a little projection going on there…

    • This. What SDA said.

      I began writing in earnest in September. If all goes according to plan I will have books for sale in late spring. I won’t ever suffer the indignity of querying. But I read the agent blogs, and their “How to Get Published” books and I get angry. The arrogance, the kiss-my-ring attitude, the ‘thank you sir may I have another’ tone. ‘If your query isn’t double-spaced in 12 pt. TNR font and less than 300 or more than 500 words we will not look at it’.

      How many great reads never saw the light of day because of this?!

      How did they ever manage to take an industry who’s purpose was to be a tool to aid authors to maximize their profits and turn it into a cudgel to keep authors from being published?

      I feel for you folks that lived through it.

      • TNR, double space, 12 point is rather standard [*]. And it’s a matter of self preservation. From chats with people who’ve been in the other end, reading submissions (SF magazines and contests), they get very weird things. An in 7-pt, 0.75 space between lines. Only to be able to say “hey, it said 10 pages, and it fits!”

        That part I can understand. If you have to read several outlines a day, you don’t want to risk your eyes. Basic job health standards.

        Take care.

        [*] Check submission guidelines for genre magazines, for example. About the same, unless they ask for plain text (which means a filter can translate them to their own internal format).

    • I was one of those ‘desperate old writers’ but only because way back then there were few alternatives. Mostly involving horrible old vanity publishers. But I too always found the ‘I can’t get excited about this’ rejection ridiculous. It’s so subjective. My most popular novel was once rejected by an agent who told me it was a ‘library novel fit only for housewives’. Eventually it was published by a trad publisher, who then let it go out of print because he thought it had ‘run its course in terms of sales’ within the year. I reclaimed the rights and self published it whereupon it sold and is still selling – and selling. I’ve always disliked the idea of ‘submission’ too. I think there’s some truth in the notion that we were expected to be humble submissives in our approach. I look back now on how carefully I handled all communications with my past agents, being SO careful not to bother them too much and I’m ashamed of myself. What I was after was a good business partnership, but that was never what I got.

  9. I don’t care about exciting the agent or the publisher. I do care about exciting the reader. So I cut out the first two and go directly to the most important element: that reader.

  10. “I can’t get excited about it”

    From the beginning, this has struck me as wrong about the industry, that agents make their decisions based at least partly on whether they are personally “excited” by the book.

    I could name hundreds of books I am not personally “excited” about but which are beloved by legions of readers who are not me. Why do literary agents believe their personal tastes will mesh with that of a huge and varied population of readers?

    • Yes, this. [nod] The first time I heard/read an agent say that they regularly rejected books that they knew they could sell because they weren’t “excited” by them, I was completely boggled by that attitude, but I’ve heard it over and over since.

      If I take my ten-year-old car to a mechanic, I don’t want to hear, “Well, I could fix it, but I’m not excited by that car, so I’m gonna pass.” My thought would be, “This guy’s an idiot who doesn’t want to work,” and I’d happily move on to someone who wanted my business.

      I think agents forget that they’re in business, and the question is, Do they want to work? It’s one thing for Ms. Nelson, who obviously has as much work as she can handle and offers of ten or a hundred times as much lined up out her door. But for an agent who’s looking for a new client or six, to turn down a book they know they can sell because they’re not excited? In any other business that’d be considered insane behavior by someone who deserves to fail.

      It’s a business, folks. It’s about the work. Can you do it or not? Do you want to do it or not? Do you want to do the work offered by your chosen profession? This isn’t complicated. :/


    • “I can’t get excited about it.”

      Perhaps “doesn’t excite me” means “I’m afraid it won’t change my standard of living” or “it won’t give me a shot at the corner office.”
      “I could sell it but… I’d still have the same house and the same job for the foreseeable future.”

      • Don’t forget this possibility:

        ‘I still have fantasies about being a writer myself instead of an agent. But I’m not excited about this book, because it is not the book that I would have written in my fantasies of being a bestselling author. I mean, would I daydream about appearing on Oprah to promote this?’

    • ““I can’t get excited about it””

      sounds like a hormonal issue

      what if that’s it

      but for some dhea or testost or estriodol [sp], more ms would have been accepted?

      Maybe, you know, the supps could be put in the vending machines… gotta look at ten manuscripts today, oooops, not before i take my T.

    • I think the “can’t get excited by” thing is a reflection of a power imbalance. When you have 500 people applying for one job, you can afford to have quirky and irrelevant criteria for hiring come into the picture. When the power of the potential parties is more equal, these irrelevant conditions tend to go away.

    • Especially since most people can determine easily that a book (movie, TV show, comic) is not in their wheelhouse, but that X person would love it.

  11. The biggest reason books are rejected is all the competition from other authors who want the same slot.

  12. So… here’s what I remember from the bad old days, and oh, by the way, my number of rejections was, at minimum, 200. I had a whole bloody box full and that doesn’t count rejections by email.
    And I did my homework. I researched agents and publishers. I followed every single rule and request to the letter and I contacted the proper person in the proper manner and submitted as per instructions– all work edited and proofread. And I never bugged anyone. I followed up when instructed to follow up.

    I remember the following:

    1. Third-page form rejection letters, a page literally cut into thirds so as to save paper, I assume in order to send out many such letters, on which were written the Xeroxed words: Your work does not meet our needs at this time. The Agent. (Not even a return address on the SASE.)

    2. An email informing me I would hear back within 6-8 weeks, yet I frequently received an email within 45 minutes stating “Your work does not meet our needs at this time. Agent.”

    3. Other writers said to me, back in those bad old days — “Don’t throw those letters away! You should take any suggestions to heart. Suggestions? What suggestions? Not once, in two solid years, did I receive a single suggestion or a reason for a rejection, aside from “Your work does not meet our needs at this time. Anonymous Agent.”

    4. No response whatsoever, SASE notwithstanding.

    Yeah. I have real fond memories of those days…

  13. The submission process is very aptly named. It works perfectly as a self-selecting litmus test for finding meek and spineless writers who are willing to accept financial crumbs for their work and tolerate indifferent and insulting treatment that in any other industry would be considered inexcusably unprofessional.

    Sort of similar to how a pimp has to break in the new talent to make sure they’re sufficiently cowed before they can join the stable and be offered to strangers for money.

    In fact, prostitution’s the only other profession I can think of where the “agent” expects all of the money to flow through them, and then passes on the talent’s share.

    Makes you think, doesn’t it?

    • professions where money comes to top then down: hospitals, universities, insurance companies, any corp that sells a product or service and has employees/jobbers/suppliers inc amz, distributors, health care companies, housekeeping services, many more.

      Knowing many who have pub’d trad over the decades, I wouldnt characterize them as ‘meek and spineless.’ Rather as talented and driven, giving it all they got in a windstorm. Fully spined, not with a wishbone, but with real backbone. That’s why we’re still standing. That’s why we’re still writing and publishing despite having had to deal with the harsher realities of trad pub.

      Maya told me once, there is a loss of innocence with each book published. I’d rely on her long history in pub, and I find that true myself, whether trad pub or indie. There are realities to learning the ways through. Torments yes. But much good also. Much, regardless of pathways.

      • In every one of the professions you listed, the ‘talent’ are EMPLOYEES, and receive regular wages plus benefits.

        In writing and prostitution, the ‘talent’ are officially labelled as independent contractors, so that their employers have no obligation to pay minimum wage or maintain safe working conditions. But then these ‘independent’ contractors are held by their employers in what amounts to indentured servitude. A prostitute trying to get away from her pimp may actually have an easier time of it than an author trying to get his rights back from a publisher and have the non-compete clause of his contract terminated.

        Writers and prostitutes get the worst of both worlds. And it is worth noting that in New York, where most the publishing industry is still headquartered, one of those professions is illegal.

        • sadly in health and hospitals, universities, many corps like walschmart and others there is more and more contract labor, short the number of hours of full time, and with no bennies. That’s only, they say, for full time nurses, clerks, stockers, etc… of which there are fewer and fewer in the supplier of services level, only at the top.

        • I guess I was more thinking re women who are selling their bodies for money, of several circumstances, all the way from the only seeming way to earn money after abandoned by x and y, whilst also having a child or children and being dirt poor…. all the way to forced enslavement such as certain of the ‘princes’ from s.a. who show up in the usa accompanied by women who are acknowledged to be his ‘slaves’ in the oldest sense of the word, to the women who vie to work in the Nevada legal upscale houses, to persons who are in such sad and horrific shape from their meth, to the movie version of women who have a man who sells them to whomever will step up, to wealthy women who have a ‘clientele’ and run their own gigs.

          Also, because prostitution is often called ‘the victimless crime’ [which I dont agree with, esp in the trafficking of underage girls across the world], I found not quite sure how to understand the metaphor re agents for instance, given the plethora of circumstances attached to the idea of woman selling her body and perhaps more.

      • I imagine if a writer wanted to reach readers in the pre-2010 days, they more or less had to close their eyes and “think of England.” Perhaps you are right and back then it spoke more to fortitude than to spinelessness. But times have changed, and writers have real choices now.

        I find your comparison to hospitals, universities, etc. however to be inapt. Why would you consider money flowing through an agent — who supposedly works for the author — to be coming “down from the top”? In other words, why would anyone view an agent hired by the writer — just a commission-based sales rep basically — as being somehow higher in the publishing hierarchy than writer?

        Can you imagine a real estate agent demanding that an entire down payment be signed over to him or her first, so that he or she can then pass 85% of it through to the seller at his or her discretion?

        For decades, it seems that a bunch of skeevy middlemen got away with convincing writers they were a cattle-class of undesirable supplicants, and that they should be grateful to hand over 15% of their money while being treated rudely or ignored.


        • Pre-2010 we at least had that world wide web thingy. In my case that meant finding stories and other ideas that others had thought ‘good enough’ to post on websites. Like minds also joined groups to talk about and write tall tales and fan-fics. (My first ‘what in the heck do I think I’m doing?’ was posted back in 2005 on an Aussie friend’s website, and it’s grown from there. I like to think I’ve learned a bit since then, so it’s rewriting time before I see about making that final step below …)

          “Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for the money.” Moliere “`

          • Pre-2010 we at least had that world wide web thingy.

            True; but not for very long before 2010, and not if we wanted to get paid for our work.

            Molière’s remark is witty but fundamentally empty, because you could say the same thing about most occupations. The real question is whether a given activity is something that one ought not to do for money. There is a very old and widespread tradition condemning prostitution on moral grounds, and no such tradition condemning the trades of the plumber, the butcher, the baker – or the writer. If writers deserve to be treated as whores, and looked down on like whores, then plumbers, butchers, and bakers deserve the same. Since this conclusion would appear to be manifest nonsense, we can only suppose that one or more of the premises are at fault.

            • I was already finding some talent on the sites before well 2000 — one of which was the reason I tried banging out my tall tale in ’05.

              And I do know a couple guys that were making ‘some’ money back then, not a lot, but better than the nothing of wishing an ‘agent and publisher’ would see how good they were. As for Molière’s remarks, most plumbers/butchers/bakers don’t need a ‘pimp’ to offer/sell their services for them, where as before ebooks/ereaders/Amazon and the like writers didn’t have a whole lot of ways to get their stories out where they could be read (and get paid for them …)

              • The ‘pimps’ (sc.: agents & publishers) didn’t exist yet in Molière’s time, so that can’t have been the basis for his analogy.

                • There were publishers in Molière’s Paris. They were usually called “presses,” of course.

                  In other news, I just heard a PSA saying that anybody under four foot nine inches has to ride in a booster seat in the back of your car. Are they nuts? There are plenty of grown women under four foot nine, and grown men in some countries.

                • What they had in Molière’s Paris were booksellers and printers (usually under the same roof). An author could try to interest a bookseller in paying the up-front costs of printing his new book, but more usually he had to pay the cost himself – or have a patron do it for him – and then get the bookseller to sell the books on consignment. So it was not at all the same kind of relationship that later existed between authors and publishers. Much more like our present relationship as authors with Amazon, Kobo, or Smashwords, except that we (fortunately) don’t have to defray the cost of several hundred printed books.

                  In other news, I just heard a PSA saying that anybody under four foot nine inches has to ride in a booster seat in the back of your car. Are they nuts?


        • “Why would you consider money flowing through an agent — who supposedly works for the author — to be coming “down from the top”?”

          at the unis I work at, the money comes from

          a; from taxpayers, funneled down then to fed and state governments, then funneled on paper through legislature that decides uses, then $ is funneled down into provider salaries and b&m needs,

          b; from the top: $ from tuitions that are funneled through the top echelons, board of regents and prez deciding allocation, with only a small portion brought down to hire and pay via deans’ budgets, suppliers/that is, all increasingly rare tenured, and other what has become contract labor providers at uni esp ‘adjunct profs’ [adjuncts are kept under 39 hours a week to as to avoid paying bennies by never giving full time and giving irregular and unreliable hours from year to year, sometimes from semester to semester.

          Re Hospitals I work at: similar
          a} fed and state and local governments give monies. LEgislatures at top decide allocations. $ flows to top echelon/managers at hosp, those that serve are paid down last: nurses, the new atrocious idea of hospitalers, and “navigators”… [dont ask, I could unleash fire over what has happened in patient care to devolve it all] and as uni avoid paying bennies to service providers, by never giving full time hours] .
          b] health insurance premium payers pay into pot. Insurance company pays hospital for claims, more and more, as little as possible. Insurance money take up by highest echelon CFOs and paid down the line, according to okayed department budgets and 10 year plans and the usual. Service providers come last.
          c: private pay for hosp bills goes straight to highest echelon, and here there are no unions, and service providers can be laid off at will, offered 6 month agreements w reduced hours and reduced salaries because of ‘sudden budget constraints’ which is for the providers a crapshoot far too often. Job here today, gone tomorrow.

          I agree with your thought that some treated authors like ‘cattle.’ And too, there were many an agent in times past who were fast friends with their authors. But as many things, the new group does biz, I guess, not gentleman friendships and biz.

  14. Should have been a top ten list:

    10) It’s not a 50 Shades clone.
    9) We haven’t yet hit our rejection quota for the month.
    8) Barnes & Noble told us to.
    7) It’s not the book I got into agenting to write.
    6) Need more time to blog.
    5) Need more time to tweet.
    4) Need more time to collude.
    3) Don’t know enough about marketing to understand how to sell it.
    2) Intern didn’t like it.
    1) No response.

    • ^ #5 and #6 always made me wonder…

      The ‘I’m so busy I have no time to respond to you’ bit was always followed by, ‘if you want to know what kind of work to send me, check my daily blog and follow me on twitter.’

      I’m about the dumbest person I know, but even I wasn’t fooled by that one.

      When someone said ‘Hey, you can’t get back to me in less than 3 months, but you tweet/blog/facebook 20x a day!’, Agent X always shot back with ‘I do social media and blogs on MY time, not work time, you should be GRATEFUL!’

      Here’s the thing though, I have many relatives who own their own businesses – and worked for some of them here and there – ALL of their time is company time. NONE of the peopel I know who work for themselves work 40 or even 50 hours a week – try 60 or 70. There is very rarely such a thing as a part-time self-employed rich guy (unless he sells coke, but my experience with that is, fortunately, nil).

      It’s like Kris Rusch always says ‘Would you be better off writing’. Seems to me some folks would be better off ‘agenting’.

  15. ‘However, when a book has already been published, the traditional publisher has to think very hard about how much time and money they are willing to invest in a book which may give them several legal issues, may have already run its course (in terms of sales)’

    If the trad publisher can’t get more sales for a book than I can, why exactly would I want to be published by them?

    • Exactly. [nod] If I’ve already sold a copy to everyone who’ll ever buy it (saturated the market), or even half, then why do I need them again?

      And what legal issues? o_O Unless the writer’s transferred their rights to some scammer, in which case, okay, there’ll probably be a brangle. But if the writer legitimately indie published the book themself, then they still retain the rights and and the BPH can publish it just fine, even if it’s as a reprint or a second edition. There aren’t any “legal issues” that I can think of; that’s just more scare-mongering.


    • I pointed that one out on the FB link where I found this. It did make me wonder what exactly she thought she was bringing to the table.

  16. She must not know about TPV, or DWS, or KKR.

    About the Author: M.J. Moores began her career as a high school English teacher with a passion for creative writing. Recently, she left the teaching profession to work as a freelance writer as she prepares her science fiction novel for publishing. Unimpressed with the lack of straightforward, simple (and free) resources available to new and emerging writers, she started her own online editing company and writers’ blog (Infinite Pathways) to help her fellow compatriots.

    Bold emphasis mine

    • LOL!

      Well, you know, since she’s all about submitting and being polite about it, and listening carefully when agents tell you all about what you’re doing wrong, she might well have seen PG and Dean and Kris’s sites and decided they were all worthless, since they clearly don’t know how to lead tender young writers down the path to New York success.

      Either that or she didn’t actually do any research before writing her “About the Author” para. [shrug]


  17. The writing itself: All stories need to start sharply and carry on at a good pace.

    Why is it that all stories need to start sharply? Has no one ever heard of Cold Mountain, a slow-to-start novel that took everyone by surprise and was read by a bazillionty people and was made into a movie?

    Sometimes these agent-type-people have been in the business so long, they’ve got these very old guidelines that they swear are actually rules. They’re not, they’re just guidelines because no one rule can apply to all of anything, especially books. Some books need to start slowly, and without oft-touted dialog that some agents think a book HAS to have or no one will read it.

    Agents don’t know everything, they just think that they do.

    • and was read by a bazillionty people

      Let us not exaggerate. There were no more than a jillionty-seven, which is slightly less than a bajillionty, but more than a zillion-illion. I know, because I counted them myself. Twice.

      Sometimes these agent-type-people have been in the business so long, they’ve got these very old guidelines that they swear are actually rules.

      As witness all the wise old publishing people who rejected Harry Potter, because of the ‘rule’ that school stories don’t sell. (Come to that, the first H.P. book gets off to a pretty slow start. Under the stairs at the Dursleys’ house, number four Privet Drive, is not quite the most heart-thumpingly exciting place to begin a story. So it runs afoul of that ‘rule’ as well.)

      • A jillionty-seven, you say? Then I stand corrected. I reckon I must have miscounted, including myself for each time I read it. And I read it s-l-o-w-l-y because it was a Slow Book.

        And I LOVE school stories. Can’t get enough of ’em. Stupid publishers have been telling people that folks don’t like school stories? No wonder I can’t find any. Well, thank goodness for the self-publishing world, as I’m sure to find one if I would but look again.

        • I reckon I must have miscounted, including myself for each time I read it.

          I have been known to do that myself. Or sometimes the people I’m counting are all standing around in a circle, and I forget where I started and wind up counting some of them twice.

          Which reminds me, Mark Twain once mentioned that the railways of the United States claimed to transport (I think it was) 650 million passengers per year. He said there were not that many people in the country: ‘They must use some of the same people over again, likely.’

      • “. . . the first H.P. book gets off to a pretty slow start. Under the stairs at the Dursleys’ house, number four Privet Drive, is not quite the most heart-thumpingly exciting place to begin a story.”

        Oh, I don’t know about that. When I read that opening, I knew that book was going to be something special. My heart was thumping pretty hard. 😀

  18. Everything I’ve read about the query process reminds me of Monty Python’s management-training-interview sketch: http://youtu.be/1dWMIuipn_c

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