Monday, 14 November 2011

5 Reasons Why A Full MS Might Be Rejected

It's a question I've been asked a lot and it's a difficult one to answer. However I've been asking around agents and editors, and this is a summary of the answers given.

1. Structure...
Problems with the story line, or pace (usually too slow rather than too fast).

2. Good premise but...
It wasn't developed, or used familiar plots and situations.

3. The writing...
Unfocussed, language flat, nothing special about it.

4. Characters...
Caricatures rather than real people, didn't believe in them, inconsistent.

5. A good book but...
Didn't feel passionate about it, couldn't think where/how to sell it.

Agents and editors have to be passionate about the books they represent or they can't do their job - the agent to sell it to the editor, the editor to sell it to the sales and marketing team. An editor recently told me that she was being asked about each and every book she brought to the acquisition meetings: do you love it enough to stick your neck on the line for it? Lukewarm enthusiasm is not enough.

The problem is that one person's opinion may not coincide with another person's, leading to conflicting feedback. However, if you fix the first 4 points, you are probably also fixing the 5th.


Karen said...

Mine's got as far as aquisitions meetings and fallen at the very last hurdle. SO frustrating that it has to get past SO many people!

Sometimes even a passionate agent can't quite swing it.

Carol McGrath said...

I found this helpful. I always get requests for a 'full' and then it disappoints. I think it is hard to get past so many hurdles that it is almost impossible.

Philip C James said...

People do business with people and however much professionalism is applied to the first four points (and even if they are corrected) it depends also on whether the editor etc likes your proposition (and that includes the author as a 'property' I guess).

The good news I imagine is that because that last part is a personal rather than a professional matter, the author should take your other advice and just not give up.

If the technical deficiencies have been addressed there's likely to be someone else out there who will enthuse about your work!

Giles Diggle said...

Very useful points. I think if you test your MS against 1-4 honestly and still remain enthusiastic about your own book, then self-publishing as an ebook becomes a possibility.

Once you've come to terms with dents to your ego, you then have to overcome the problem of self-marketing.

Familiar debate.

Sarah Duncan said...

Karen - arghh, how frustrating. But you have to take it as an endorsement that you're nearly there and it's only a matter of time.

Carol - have you had any feedback as to why you're falling? It's so frustrating, I feel for you.

Phil - You're right, especially with non-fiction, that the author is part of the package. A lot depends on landing on the right desk at the right time.

Giles - I think there are huge opportunities in self publishing, but it's not for everyone nor every book.