Why You’re Getting Rejections

rejectedAwhile back, Nathan Bransford had a terrific post on “Why You Are Receiving Rejections.” He says if you keep getting rejections, it boils down to two reasons: either your query isn’t strong enough, or your query is fine but your project isn’t resonating with agents.

So true! He’s nailed it! He’s absolutely right!

But I have one thing to add. (Nathan, you’re awesome, I think you’re the coolest, so don’t take this wrong.)

There’s another reality that goes beyond your query and your book.

It’s the crowded marketplace.

It’s the fact that there are hundreds of writers competing for each slot in traditional print publishing.

Your query may need work. Your book may need work.


Your query and your book might be just fine and plenty of people would enjoy it. But because there are so many other queries in the queue, and perhaps bad luck and lack of serendipity and an annoying scarcity of fairy dust, agents and/or publishers aren’t biting.

The problem is in being able to figure out which category you’re in. You must do the work of figuring it out. Get a qualified critique partner. Hire an editor, someone who can address the big picture of your book: Is it interesting or is it boring? Does it feel derivative, or fresh? Does it make readers want to turn the page or fall asleep? Is it pretty good but have a fatal flaw?

There could come a point where you’ve done all you can, nobody’s biting, yet you have objective outside feedback that says your book really is good. What should you do?

Any or all of the following:

  • Keep querying.
  • Self publish.
  • Write another book and query that one.

Just remember, the problem could be your book. Or… maybe not.

Now that I’ve thoroughly confused you, here’s today’s question:

What’s the most frustrating thing about the query process?

Comment below, or if you’re reading this via email, comment by clicking: HERE.


Getting rejections?  The problem could be your book. Or… maybe not. So what is it? Click to Tweet.

If you’re getting query rejections: Is it your book? Is it your query? Or… something else. Click to Tweet.

Agent @RachelleGardner shares why you’re getting query rejections. Click to Tweet.

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Fiction Writers and Platform

hand with quill

I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a snippet: Every time I blog about platform or social media, the vocal response in the comments reminds me that it’s a difficult subject for many authors. Everyone wonders how and when to build a platform, and many writers aren’t enthusiastic about it. There are two things […]

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12 Mistakes Authors Make in Connecting with Readers

Man with megaphone

The whole idea of “building a platform” and “marketing your book” is to get people to read what you’ve written. Whether you’re traditionally or self-published, connecting with potential readers is crucial. There are many good ways to do this (although it’s not necessarily easy), and plenty of resources to  help you. Today I want to […]

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Living in Paradox

Masked woman; neurotic

Last week I wrote a post about following your passion as a writer, versus trying to write what the market wants. I concluded that it’s a false dichotomy—you need to to both. It’s not easy living in two worlds, and it got me thinking of all the ways writers and publishing professionals have to live […]

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What Doesn’t Happen When You Sign a Book Deal

Addie Zierman

Guest Blogger: Addie Zierman (@addiezierman)   The contract will come in the mail with the publisher’s name on it, and for a few minutes or hours or days, you’ll feel on top of the world.   Here you are, at the beginning of a dream come true, at the precipice of all you’ve been waiting […]

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Discussing Authors and Privacy


I’m blogging at Books & Such today. We’re talking about privacy when it comes to authors. Is privacy possible?   Here’s a snippet:   I’ve been talking with a potential client—a staggeringly talented writer and thinker—about her goals and her writing career. At a certain point, we got caught up on a particular issue that […]

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Where Your Passion Meets the Market


Last month I wrote a post about building a long-term writing career (Are You in this for the Long Haul?). In my list of things writers can do to develop a long-haul career, I said: Pay attention to where your passion intersects with the market. I want to expand on that because it’s so crucial. […]

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5 Habits of Motivated Novelists

Motivated Novelist

Last year at this time, I introduced RescueTime, an online productivity tool that helps people make the most of their time while on the computer. Once again this year, RescueTime is teaming up with writers participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and offering a free month-long membership in RescueTime, complete with their premium productivity tools. […]

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I Am Not a Gatekeeper


People in and around this business have long used the word “gatekeeper” when referring to those in publishing tasked with choosing which books to publish or represent.   Since the rise of self-publishing, it has become a debate—often heated:   Down with the gatekeepers!   Hooray for the gatekeepers!   Some bemoan: The gatekeepers are […]

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What We Give Up

woman juggling

I’m blogging at Books & Such today, about the things we have to say “no” to when we choose to pursue certain passions. I don’t play golf, cook gourmet meals, or grow a garden. What have you given up? Click HERE to read the post and chime in with your thoughts at Books & Such. […]

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How to Tighten Your Manuscript

I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview: Is your book too long? Does it feel a bit wordy, perhaps slightly bloated? Or . . . does it feel perfect but it’s a little high in word count? There comes a time in every writer’s life when the need arises to shorten a […]

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Minimize the Obstacles


I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview: When you’re a debut author trying to break in to traditional publishing, one of the most important things to remember is this: Minimize the obstacles. You already know it’s not going to be easy to break in, so you want to avoid making it even […]

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The Long Haul


I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview: I have a lot of conversations with clients about their writing careers. Often they tell me, “I want to be in this for the long haul.” It’s given me the opportunity to have some great discussions about what helps a writer accomplish this goal – […]

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What is the Opposite of Success?


I’m blogging at Books & Such today. Here’s a preview: The business of publishing gives us frequent opportunities to feel like a success or … not a success. At every step of the journey, we receive feedback and results that tell us whether our efforts are working. It’s an uncertain path riddled with possibilities for […]

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