Writers often look at their work and believe, “This is really good. I’m sending it off.” I won’t say in most cases but quite a few, these submissions often come back stamped ‘REJECTED’. Why? The reason is simple - these writers didn’t step back to look at the piece objectively wearing an editor’s hat but looked at it wearing a ‘mommy’s’ hat. These are two different hats to be wearing when it comes to really looking over your manuscript. Another reason is they submitted a first draft they believed was fully fleshed out, their characters realistic and not stick people, and subbed to various publishers.
What is wrong with this scenario?
I will admit I’ve read quite a few first drafts that were tight but haven’t come across any first draft that read complete in any which way you looked at it. Something always needed changing:
- characters lacked dimension,
- setting needed more presence,
- dialogue had to be spruced up and taglines removed,
- or more of the five senses had to be written in to bring the scene to the reader’s mind with more clarity and vividness.
Are your characters flat, lifeless, no personality to set them apart from your secondary characters? Not sure? Well, that’s why it’s a good idea to get your story critiqued by another pair of eyes other than your own. These critiquers will be able to pinpoint areas they feel, as readers, need more fleshing out. Remember that you can’t please all of the readers all the time but if you can offer a character that is three-dimensional from the start, then perhaps you will please most of your readers.
The one biggest flaw I find in some writers is the fact they do not accept any comments where their work is concerned. Writers are always learning, always open to suggestions in order to guide and help them enhance their talent. The more they understand the areas they are weak in, the quicker these flaws disappear.
Publishers know who their readers are. This is an area a writer also needs to understand. When you research a publisher, make sure to take the time and read one or two of their books to see if your genre fits in with their ‘style’. If you wrote a young adult novel, and you web-searched ‘Children’s Publishers’, don’t send your manuscript to them UNLESS you check their guidelines. There you will see if they accept young adult manuscripts, their preferred word count, and other information in order to process your submission.
Do not be one of the writers who eagerly wait for months for a response only to discover the rejection letter states, “We are sorry but at this time we are not accepting any Young Adult manuscripts.” Waste of time.
Be smart, after all, you worked long and hard on your book, it deserves a chance to reach the right publisher.
Now stop reading and go finish your book. Your beta readers are waiting to dig in and give you their opinions.