Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Publishers Weren't Open To My Story Idea - That's Why I Was Rejected

I love going to writing conferences and simply people watching (and certainly listening to people). It can be amazingly insightful, and certainly at times, entertaining, to hear how writers view the publishing world. It can be even more insightful to hear why some people think their stories were rejected.

One common thing I hear over and over again, especially when it comes to authors moving to the self-publishing market is that "publishers wouldn't take their books or their ideas." This is often extended to the fact that their stories were so unique that publishers just didn't want to take a chance with the book. On the extreme end, we hear that "the publishers weren't willing to expand their thinking about what they wanted to publish."

I do believe that many of these authors are missing a couple of points about the submission process and what the editors are looking for with those submissions. I should also add here that this same idea extends to agents as well.

THEY HAVE A MARKET THEY WORK WITH I have brought up this point before. Publishers (as well as agencies) have specific markets and specialties. They focus on selling a certain product to their consumers and those readers have come to know what to expect in those products. They have carved out their own individual niche in this huge publishing world. Some publishers focus on more of a literary voice. Some focus on a lighter and easier read. Some focus on the quirky. The point is, if you submit a story that is not what they are looking for, you will get a rejection.

I know I have rejected people in the past because they have submitted a story that isn't a romance or women's fiction, or even if it was a sub-genre I do not represent (such as sci-fi romance). I then get an email telling me they submitted in the hopes that I would have a "bigger vision" and that I might just "change my business model" because their writing is so good. Ummm, would you tell a hardware store they should reconsider their marketing plan because you want to sell lingerie there? I don't think so.

THERE IS NO MARKET FOR YOUR BOOK - Look, I get you like your book. I get you enjoyed writing it and you have a passion for it. But, with that said, this is a product the agents and editors are selling. If there really isn't a significant market for your book out there (beyond you and your friends) then guess what, the story will not sell.

I had someone once pitch me a series of books that were romances set in the RV's. Their rationale was that there are a ton of people out there into the RV thing so therefore, this was a built in market. Umm, no. Yes, people are into RV's but that does not mean there is a huge population out there of people who would buy books set about people in RV Rigs traveling across America having romances.

THE STORY IS NOT GOOD I saved this one for last but it is really one of the biggest issues. I don't care how much time you put into it. I don't care how much you love the idea. Heck, the premise of the story could be amazing. But, if the writing is not good, we are going to reject it. If there aren't great characters, fantastic dialogue, amazing narration, a plot that is worthy, a conflict that is believable and significant, a theme that has a great take-away...then we will pass on it. If you show you have terrible grammar. We will pass on it.

And no, you cannot say that these self-publishing companies will take it so therefore it is good. Self-publishing says that it is all riding on your shoulders.

The point of all this is pretty simple. We pass on stories for a lot of different reasons And yes, many of those reasons are sitting on your shoulders as an author. Editors and agents are not out there passing on your stories just because we hate you, or we disagree with your ideas and thoughts. There are indeed other variables!

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