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Timeless and Valuable - Editor's Rejection Bullets


Betsy Mitchell at Del Rey, imprint of Random House, was inspired to look at the numbers and reasons she rejected the manuscripts submitted to her.  Betsy’s tally starts with March of 2009 and runs to the end of the year.  During that time she passed on 133 manuscripts.  I found it very interesting.  Just remember not to let it get you down.
 
Here is her list of reasons why:
  • Not what Del Rey is looking for (meaning we had enough on our list already of whatever subgenre was on offer): 22
  • A good manuscript but not right for our list (included a couple of nonfiction SF-related titles more suitable for a small press, the odd children’s book, etc.) 14
  • Not a genre that’s doing well right now (horror, mostly; some foreign novels being offered for translation, anthologies whose concepts weren’t strong enough) 18
  • Simply not good enough (a combination of mediocre writing and/or storytelling) 43
  • Contains major plot flaws (the story was too predictable, or the author made a choice I didn’t agree with which affected the entire manuscript) 5
  • Main characters not strong or likeable enough 3
  • Needs too much editorial work (a manuscript has to be 95% of the way to book-ready for me to be willing to take it on) 7
  • Falls between genres (these were some of the most frustrating ones I had to reject; several were quite beautifully written but would be hard to promote in such a tough marketplace) 14

Comments

  1. The "Falls between genres" one is eye-opening. I had hoped the big publishers were embracing a wider spectrum of fiction, but it does sound like the structure of the bookstore shelf and other sales outlets still drives the genre silos. Good to hear a publisher's perspective.

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