Perhaps your manuscript simply disappeared into a giant
slush pile and you got a standard, dream-shattering rejection letter like
everyone else, without anybody even looking at your work. You are obviously wasting
your time submitting your work to this publisher. So phone agents and
publishers to check if they
welcome submissions first, or check them out in the Writers' and Artists'
Yearbook or another appropriate reference book. Try to find a publisher which reads its slush pile
and don't ever send it to an agent or publisher who says 'no
Your manuscript does not fit with the publishing focus of the
publishing house (e.g. if you write Fantasy, which they don’t publish). Research carefully and make sure you send your manuscript to a
publisher which publishes in that area.
Your manuscript may be in a terrible
mess, which is initially
very off-putting. You need to tidy it up and produce a clean copy to submit to
publishers. You might want to consider our Copy-editing
service, if you really
can’t get it right on your own.
Make sure that you have presented your
work in the most professional way possible. See our page on
Use our new page on putting together
Your submission package to make sure you
are presenting your material correctly, to give yourself your best chance.
You may be writing for a very limited
audience, which means
the publisher cannot forecast high enough sales to make your book commercially
viable. Possibly you won’t find
a publisher at all, if your project has a very small potential readership, and
you should think of self-publishing. Alternatively,
try a more specialist or local publisher.
You’re an unknown author and the publisher is not
sufficiently certain about how to promote you or your book to the right level. Unfortunately
how promotable you are can be very important and it's a salutary
fact that publishers favour authors who are young and good-looking.
It is not politically correct to acknowledge this, but it is a fact of
life. However, you may have hidden depths which would make you more promotable,
or good contacts, or special knowledge. Make
sure your submission letter mentions briefly every promotional angle you can
Your manuscript may be local in its
interest, whereas the
publisher is looking at a larger national or international market.
Try sending it to a local publisher, which may be small, but will also
be more focused on the area.
Your work may not fall into a clear enough publishing
category – publishers are not keen on books they cannot categorise.
Unfortunately this is something you need to be aware of for the future,
although you should think about whether this is just a matter of how you have presented your work.
manuscript may need too much editorial work. Our experience is that this is
becoming more and more of a problem. You
may need to rework it before submitting it again. If you don’t know where to start, perhaps our
Services can help.
Your work may be ‘old-fashioned’, which leads the
publisher to conclude that it isn’t what readers are currently looking
Again, it’s pretty difficult to counter this one, but some publishers are
more affected by ‘fashion’ than others, so you could try elsewhere. Study
publishers’ lists. You may need to investigate the market more carefully
before you embark on further projects.
Your manuscript may not be sufficiently
will need to work to improve your writing.
Our services can help and so can books about writing, see our reviews,
and browse through our WritersBookstall.
You could also look at Michael Legat's books or
If it is non-fiction, the publisher may already have a book
on the same subject. Try another publisher.
If it is fiction, the publisher may already have a successful
author writing for exactly the same market and fear that you might compete.
This probably means that another publisher might well be interested. Position your writing by a reference to the successful author in your
submission letter (even if you think you’re much better!)
If you are submitting your work to
agents, check that you are sending it to the right one. Finding
an agent gives suggestions on this and the UK
and US agents' lists
from the Writers' and Artists'
help you to select the right agent.