Why Does My Manuscript Keep Getting Rejected So Quickly?

By Dawn Carrington

Rejection is difficult under the best of circumstances. When your book gets rejected, the editor might as well say you can’t write because that’s how it’s taken. No matter how many times you’re told “your work doesn’t fit our catalog” or “it’s just not right for us,” you will always assume their book is being rejected because of the writing. Sometimes, that is the case, and most publishers don’t have time to give a detailed rejection.

But there are many other reasons why you could be getting that “this isn’t for us” rejection, many of which have absolutely nothing to do with your writing skills, but rather, your attention to detail. These are the top five reasons why we at Vinspire Publishing reject manuscripts we haven’t even read. 

Not reading the submission guidelines

Unfortunately, many authors (and even agents) don’t take the time to read the submission guidelines on the publisher’s website. As the editor-in-chief of Vinspire Publishing for the past seventeen years, I and my staff have had to automatically reject books that could have been quite good. We didn’t read them, though, because we weren’t looking for that genre at the time.

Submitting outside of the reading period

So you’ve read the guidelines and know that the publisher is looking for Amish romance. You prepare your submission package and send it off. Unfortunately, you missed the submission deadline which means you get a return email automatically rejecting it.

Many publishers do have reading periods or submission windows. That enables us to read the submissions we already have in a timely manner and not get bogged down with more. We know how many manuscripts we often receive in a month and how many we can read which is why we have a cut-off date. Often though, we’ll have a one-day only submission event with the date in prominent, bold type. Still, we get submissions the day before and the day after the event. Again, those are automatic rejections.

A query letter with grammatical errors

I’ve heard many authors say this one isn’t fair because that’s what editors are for. Actually, our editors are to help you polish your book before it goes to print. Not to edit your query letter. That needs to be as perfect as you can get it because, quite simply, few publishers are interested in reviewing a manuscript if the query letter is riddled with errors.

Think of your query letter as a letter of interest you’re submitting with a resume. Just as employers are scanning your submission for proper punctuation and clear, concise writing, so are publishers. If we don’t see that in your query letter, we’re confident we won’t see it in your synopsis or manuscript. As the query letter is the first thing we see, it should be just as important as the book you submit, both of which should be as error-free as possible.

Not submitting an entire submissions package

Even if your query letter shines, and you think your first three chapters are the absolute best they can be, if you fail to submit the synopsis, as required by the publisher’s guidelines, you will, most likely, get a rejection. Some publishers will overlook this one and give you a second chance to get it right, but you can’t take a chance on that.

Sending your submission to the wrong email address or person

Even though we have our submissions email on our guidelines page, we still receive manuscripts in various inboxes. Often, if an author overlooks the address on the submission page, they’ll go looking for other email addresses like the ones on the Contact Us page or About Us page. Understand that most publishers have one submissions inbox. It is set up to receive submissions that are then entered into a log which enables us to keep track of them.

So if you send a submission directly to the editor-in-chief, who often receives dozens upon dozens of emails a day, your manuscript is either going to get overlooked or get a quick rejection. I’ll admit that I often give second chances on this one, but not every publisher has the time or desire to do so.

Now that you know some of the reasons why your book can receive an automatic rejection, take the necessary steps to ensure that your submission gets read.

  • Read the submission guidelines as though you’re studying for an exam. Make note of any special requirements the publisher has, i.e. don’t use asterisks between scene breaks.

  • Calendar the reading periods for any publisher you wish to submit to. If you use Gmail, you can add the reading periods to your calendar, and the system will send you reminders and notify you on the last day of the deadline.

  • Make sure your query letter is without error. Get a friend to read it, preferably one who has a strong grasp on grammar and pays attention to minute details. Then have another friend read it. Use Grammarly to double-check your grammar. Use the grammar/spell-check provided by Word with the understanding that software isn’t as reliable as a pair of eyes.

  • Prepare a written checklist for each publisher according to its guidelines. Read over the list more than once before you hit the send button to make sure you’ve included everything.

  • Before you send your submission, go back to the publisher’s submission guidelines and check the email address again. Don’t copy and paste it because, often, that will include an extra space or even a period. Write it down because it forces you to pay more attention.

Following all of the guidelines and submitting a polished query letter won’t guarantee an acceptance, of course, but you’ll have a better chance of having your book read by an editor. And if you do make a mistake, you may be able to correct it, issue an apology, and resubmit, especially if you catch it before the rejection hits your inbox.

  • Posted by Admin
  • March 14, 2022 12:35 PM PDT
Here are five reasons why your manuscript may be rejected, and they have nothing to do with the quality of your writing!




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