Writing rejection letters happens to be my biggest task as a contract editor for The Wild Rose Press (TWRP). And it isn’t pleasant. I do not enjoy writing them, yet they are a must. At times, I reject with suggestions to revise and resend. Most of the time, I thank the author and move on.
Why did the editor reject such a great story? In a nutshell, if your query, synopsis, and first paragraph of your story do not capture my attention, hold it in such a way that I have the urge to read on to find out what’s going on, then I will reject the story.
Sadly that does not happen often enough.
Do I continue to read? Yes. My goal at that point is to see what the story’s missing.
So how can you write a story that guarantees acceptance?
There is no one formula. Publishing houses differ. But don’t fret. I have a few suggestions.
Do your homework! This is your story. You might be searching for a publisher but it is your baby.
Learn as much as possible about your genre. Find publishing companies that cater to your genre. Know what that publisher is searching for, how many genres they accept, how many books they have published, satisfied authors and customers. Especially customers.
Send the publisher a clean manuscript. Your manuscript should be free of all errors, i.e. grammar and spelling. If you do not have a good grasp on when to use a comma or not. Then hire a freelance editor like myself to proofread your story. It doesn’t cost much.
If you’re thinking you cannot afford you may change your mind once the story is rejected outright for grammar and spelling issues.
Other common items are too much backstory, passive voice, telling vs showing, and head-hopping. Another cost-effective way to ensure your story is free of these is to get an initial evaluation from an editor. See my Services page for details. While the story is your baby, you wrote this to share with the world. Readers are critics. If they put your book down before they make it past page one, it doesn’t matter if you have the Great American Novel. No one’s purchasing it.
The days of turning in poor work and expecting the editor to complete everything is gone. Do the prep work. It may be the difference between being accepted instead of rejected.