Rejection is a nine letter word that makes us (writers) break into a sweat. It’s the stuff of our worst nightmares. Its something we all dread and fear. It’s a word I personally detest. I would prefer to say that such and such publisher declined my book, or turned it down, or refused it. I would hate to say someone rejected my book. Unlike rejection, decline, refuse and turned down are less harsh and hurt less.
Actually even if we use the word rejection, the sting can be removed from it because there are several reasons a manuscript has been rejected or turned down.
An editor friend of mine from one of India’s biggest publishing houses explained to me that when they refuse a book there are several reasons.
1. Sometimes even good books are refused, books which the editorial committee may have approved in stage one of the selection process may be disapproved in stage two, because of financial constraints. The publishing house just does not have the money to pump into this book at the current time.
2. Several times books are turned down because publishers are unable to think of a marketing strategy for that particular book. Books that cannot be marketed do not sell well.
3. Very often the publishers have brought out a book similar to the one submitted some time back and do not want to repeat themes. They prefer to tackle different books.
4. Books that do not follow certain trends: read as books on unusual, bold themes, or archaic themes are refused for fear of them not selling well.
5. Books that need a lot of editing, both structural as well as grammatical translates into a refusal. Editors just do not have the time or energy to devote to such manuscripts. Everyone prefers a polished piece that requires minimum editing. Editors don’t mind corroborating with writers when a manuscript is outstanding and editorial changes can further enhance it, turning it into literary magic.
6. Many times even good books are turned down as there is a lacunae, in the style of writing and the theme. The theme may be for older children while the writing style for younger ones, or vice versa.
7. Even good books are turned down as the publishing house’s publishing programme is full for the next couple of years and there is no room for new manuscripts.
8. Books that the publishers feel may be a hardsell. At the end of the day they too a have a business to run.
9. Several times good book by first time authors are turned down in favour of not so good books by authors who publishers consider well known or brand names.
There are several reasons for the rejection of a manuscript. There is no need for us (writers ) to feel insulted or hurt. It’s nothing personal. Do you feel there are any other reasons for rejecting a manuscript? Please share with us.