Common Reasons We Turn Down Manuscripts

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    In the event that you might be reading this before submitting a proposal, and perhaps have not got far with your manuscript yet, here are some general considerations to bear in mind.

    Your book doesn’t stand out in a saturated market

    Your book is aiming at a market that is already covered by many other books and it's not strong enough to get to the top of the pile.

    This might be because you might not have found your unique voice, Some books sound bland and indistinct. Maybe the author is trying to be like someone else who is successful but just comes across as inauthentic. You need to convey your own “voice” through the text, so the reader feels they are listening to a real person, who is on the same wavelength as them. If they feel they know you and trust you, they’ll recommend other people to read your book.

    Equally, your language may not be accessible. Don’t assume your reader knows as much as you do, or can follow your train of thought without you having to spell it out. If you find yourself using words you would never use in conversation, think again, unless you’re the kind of stylist who can carry it off.

    Your Proposal is carelessly filled in

    Fill in the proposal properly and carefully, with good spelling and grammar.

    You are not prepared to invest time in marketing

    The Proposal is your opportunity to supply a detailed and thorough marketing plan to show that you are committed to marketing your own book and understand how you will reach your intended readership. The more detailed your strategy, the more confident we will be that it can sell.

    Your book is too long

    Too long manuscripts tend to put readers off and can be commercially unviable because length correlates to price. A very long manuscript might mean you are not economical in your expression and your book needs cutting down.

    A book can also be too long because it meansders off topic. We have seen books as long as 90K words long and a good half of it wasn't on topic. Sometimes a book that is half as long can be twice as good. Lots of writers seem to think 'definitive' means long... it doesn't.

    The target range for an average read, not too demanding, but substantial enough, is 40,000–60,000, 80,000 words max

    Your book is unstructured

    A few writers can hold the structure and development of the book in their head while they’re writing, but this is rare. Many books do not work as well as they could because the structure isn’t properly thought through. 10-12 chapters is a good rule of thumb.

    • Does every chapter work towards this end?
    • Does each chapter itself have a structure?
    • Do the paragraphs lead the reader through the argument?
    • Do the sentences make consecutive sense in the paragraph?
    • Are the sentences themselves the right length?
    • Does it have "pace"? Does it keep the reader hooked? This is not only a question for fiction.

    Your book isn’t actually finished

    Many writers are too impatient and rush their writing. Is your book actually as polished and complete as it could be?

    Your book doesn’t know who it is for

    Really think about who your exact reader is. So instead of “older people” you could paint a picture - “A person above sixty who struggles with technology and is always asking their children for help”. The clearer the picture in your mind, the more focused your writing and language.

    Your book is too expensive to make it worthwhile publishing

    You might require complex design and lots of illustrations, which are expensive or need a different type of book design to the one we offer.

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