Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Bad, Bad, Bad, Your Manuscript

It's time for a Captain Obvious statement here: Agents and Editors are human.


No seriously, we are! And that also means that we go through the same emotions as you do. We also have good days and bad days. This also means that it might impact the reading of your proposal when you send it in to us to read.

Before I go any further, let me just say that I am sure other editors and agents are aware of this, and, like myself, do try to keep an eye on this behavior as we read your manuscripts.

Have you ever started the morning off on the wrong foot? Things just start out bad. But as the day goes on, things continue to be bad. One thing after another just does not go as you wanted it to. By the end of the day, even if you have a chance to have something go right for you, your brain has to find a way to make that great event just as bad as the rest of the day. For agents and editors we get the same thing.

We often sit down and read manuscripts in a single block of time. We start though that submission pile and read one manuscript after another. The placement of your manuscript in this pile is important. It is nothing you can control, but simply a situation of fate and timing.

If we get a serious of bad manuscripts, one after another, we start to get those negative thoughts. "Is everything out there this bad?" "What has happened to the state of publishing?" We are determined to find those great manuscripts, but today, there is nothing that is right. In fact, everything is awful.

And then we get to your manuscript.

While we might think, "Woo Hoo! We have a great one!" our brain is heading the same way yours did at the end of that really bad day. We just don't see it the way you had wanted, or potentially the reality of the situation.

And you get a rejection.

All I can say is sorry...

I know when I start feeling like this, I step away from reading. Look, those first several bad stories probably were like that cottage cheese in the back of your fridge that you forgot to dump a week ago. But we want to give everyone a fair chance here.

This is not to say people are just sitting down and wanting to reject everyone. This is just to remind you that your rejection may have just come as a situation of bad timing. It isn't you so don't take it personally.


  1. My timing has always been impeccable. I arrive at the wrong time, always. I hope your day goes better and you find the million dollar MS today!

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  3. Bad days are understandable. But a rejection isn't fun, either. (There goes the writer's day.)
    What do you recommend the writer do next (if they think that their manuscript is quality and deserves a second chance)? Should the writer never darken your door with that manuscript again? Resubmit it to you with a "second-chance please" note? Wander off to a new agent? I am so glad you wrote this post, because I have wondered about this situation but wasn't sure how to ask. Thank-you, Kate M