Why your stories don’t sell.

Most of us are in the same situation. We write a story or a novel and submit it for publication and then we wait. Most of the time, we receive rejection letters. Now we know our story is great, all my friends and relatives loved it! Why does it keep getting rejected? There are many reasons why a story or novel gets rejected; most of them are very simple.

1. Did you make sure you followed the submission guidelines?
Many publishers will not even consider a manuscript if it is not formatted correctly, no matter how good it may be. Slush piles are HUGE! It also tells them that you really didn’t pay attention to what they wanted you to send. Follow the rules; they are there for a reason.
2. Did you make sure your story or novel fits with the publisher?
Sending a graphic horror manuscript to a literary publisher is a waste of postage or the internet. Research the places you want to send your manuscript to. Make sure your idea is a good fit, do your homework! Take 15 minutes to read through the publishers website and see what they are looking for.
3. Is your manuscript properly edited?
Have you run spell check? Great, now read it through completely after you do so. Spell check is great, but it doesn’t catch everything (like its, it’s and its’). And most spell checkers are horrible on grammer. For those of you that write genre fiction, this is especially true. Your perfectly acceptable alien dialouge can be changed back into standard English without your knowledge! This is your baby. Make sure the buttons are buttoned and the zippers are zipped. Cross your I’s and dot your T’s. Nobody else will, and it makes for a shoddy manuscript if you don’t! It also tells a publisher that you are an amature, and that is NOT good if you want to get published.
4. Who has read your manuscript?
Writing in a vacuum is a bad thing. You need to have people deconstruct your stories and tell you where they can be improved. Your friends and family will encourage you and tell you your writing is great! The are biased toward you and down’t want to hurt your feelings. You need to find a writing group that offers to critique your work. There are many sites online and probably in your area. They are normally free; you just have to critique other stories to get your own read. Go on a regular basis, your ability to write and give criticism will improve.
5. What you are writing just may not be what they are looking for.
You have that vampire novel you’ve been working on for 2 years and you can’t seem to get it published. It’s a great story right? But right now (and for the past several years) vampire stories have been flooding the market. Check out what’s being publsihed now. See where there is a lack of stories and see if your style fits that. Be open to what you write. There is a lot of inertia in the publishing industry. Read the trends.
6. Your writing may just not be good enough right now.
When we decide to write, we often just write out what is in  our heads. The first stuff is almost always bad. Get used to it. The first few times we try anything, we stink at it. Don’t get discouraged, write more. The more rejections you get, the more you should write. But make sure you follow rule #4. Have your writing critiqued on a regular basis. Practice makes perfect!!!
Follow me on Twitter: @ddtannenbaum

2 responses to “Why your stories don’t sell.

  1. Great post! I particularly like the 'it just may not be good enough yet'. Yup, so true–and something a lot of people just do NOT want to accept or acknowledge, you know?Of course it's sometimes hard to judge this, but it's good to keep in mind. The more you write and practice, the more you WORK at improving, the better you'll get in time. (Theoretically. ;)) Thanks for sharing,~Merc

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