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.