Three Reasons You Might Receive a Rejection Letter from a Publisher

Everyone hates rejection letters. Nobody likes being rejected! As a publisher, I hate writing rejection letters, because I know how much time and emotion an author has invested in their book, and I understand how tough it is to have your hopes dashed.

But what does a rejection letter mean? Does it mean you have been rejected? That you are a terrible writer and you might as well give up now? It might feel like it when you first receive it, but that’s not what the letter is saying!

I recently listened to a speech by Bob Hartman. Bob writes mainly Bible stories for children. He was looking back to his first rejection letter – although the publisher said “not this time”, they did say keep writing, and he submitted several ideas before they finally took one on. Now Bob has a whole gamut of books in print with several publishers – you’ve probably seen them, or may even have some on your bookshelf!

Remember (I’m going to say it again, because it’s important), publishers aren’t rejecting you – just this story… and you will have a lot more where that one comes from! Plus you have to think that wasn’t the best place for my book. If the publishers gives you feedback, take it on board, because they know what they are talking about.

So why might your story have been rejected? Here are three reasons your proposal may have been turned down.

1. It may not be exactly what the publisher is looking for at this time. They may have a surfeit of books for girls – and yours is about princesses! They may have just commissioned a set of books set in a school… and yours is set in a school! Remember, publishers usually have a limited number of titles they will bring out, and a whole heap of proposals to choose from.

2. Your story might not fit with their publishing requirements. Did you do your research before submitting the manuscript? See last week’s writing tip about submitting your book proposal.

3. Your story isn’t written well enough. Have you done a writing course? If not, why not consider doing so? The investment will be worth every penny of your money, and every hour of your time. You may find out all sorts of things that you didn’t even know you need to know! You can join a local course, or go on a writing weekend. You might like to look at our own online Write for a Reason Academy, if you write novels for children/teens from a Christian perspective.

Bob Hartman finished his talk by saying he’s glad his first efforts weren’t published! As with all things in life, his writing got better with time and training. So keep writing, my friends. If God has called you to write, work at it with perseverance. One day you will find the perfect way to get your stories into readers’ hands.

Hope that helps! If you feel called to write, don’t ever give up, because only you can write your story, and someone, somewhere, is waiting for it.

Blessings abundant on your writing week,

Janet Wilson from Write for a Reason and Dernier Publishing


P.S. In the Write for a Reason Academy, we look at various different ways you can get your first book out into the world – you don’t have to have a traditional publisher take your story on. For example, you might like to make it into a kindle book, have it spiral bound for your grandchildren/Sunday School, or self-publish. You can read more about the course here.

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2 thoughts on “Three Reasons You Might Receive a Rejection Letter from a Publisher

  1. Karen Caswell

    This is so very helpful! Thanks for explaining rejection letters from a publisher’s perspective. And most of all, thank you for the reminder “If God has called you to write, work at it with perseverance.” I love the thought that my audience may “just” be grandchildren. That’s priceless encouragement!

  2. Janet Post author

    Hi Karen, really glad you found this helpful. And yes, imagine leaving a treasured story for your grandchildren! What a legacy! Are you going to do it? 🙂 – Janet

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