The top 12 reasons manuscripts are rejected

In our first year of business, we received more than a dozen manuscripts. We had to reject ninety percent of them—mostly for the same reasons.

Here are the top twelve reasons manuscripts are rejected:

  1. The author is telling instead of showing
  2. The point of view isn’t consistent
  3. The opening failed to hook the reader
  4. The author is dumping too much information on the reader
  5. The plot lacks conflict and suspense
  6. The characters are one-dimensional and flat
  7. The development of the characters and their relationships is unrealistic
  8. The manuscript contains scenes and passages that don’t move the story forward
  9. The ending is illogical, rushed, or dragged out
  10. The dialogue is unrealistic
  11. The sex scenes are not a good fit for the book
  12. The manuscript is riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes

To help new authors get published, may it be with Ylva Publishing or another publisher, we’re going to post bi-monthly articles about the reasons for manuscript rejection and explain how to avoid the most common mistakes.

Questions are highly welcome, so please feel free to leave a comment or send us an e-mail. We’re looking forward to some interesting discussions.

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About the Author : Astrid Ohletz


  1. Jeanne Nicholas November 12, 2012 at 20:30 - Reply

    With her permission to cross post, an additional article by Sunny Frazier from She Writes:

    You’ve worked hard on your query. You followed all the “rules” you read in writing magazines. You’ve sweated blood to create a great opening, to get the synopsis down to a page. I’m the acquisitions editor who received this carefully constructed letter.

    To be honest, before I read your synopsis, I googled your name. Where is your website? I didn’t see a blog. You’re on Face Book—I’m not impressed. There was no activity indicating that you read and comment with the writing community. I’m not just evaluating your manuscript, I’m evaluating you. Are your ideas for success realistic? Are you dreaming of a NY Times bestseller listing? Do you hear Hollywood knocking on your door?

    I feel marketing and platform building starts the minute a writer decided to write a book. Yes, that early. Anyone aspiring to a career in publishing in the 21st century cannot be blind to all the posts and forums talking about branding. So, where is your voice?

    When I write and ask you about this void in your social marketing, you ask, “What am I suppose to market? You haven’t published my book yet!” You market what you’ve got—your name. Name recognition is the first step toward building a platform. You make contacts, commenting on the blogs of others so people can see YOUR NAME. You add a bit about yourself so people can get to know the person behind the name. You blog at websites that give you your own page, like Book Town and Book Blogs. You “friend” others on the site, people who are readers, writers like you, industry people like me. You network and build connections.

    I can understand when you tell me you don’t know anything about marketing—that can be corrected. It’s a learning process. But I tune you out when you tell me it’s somebody else’s job to market your book. You are the author, the artist, not a person who soils their hands with promotion.

    Prima donnas need not apply. In this day of tough competition and stretched budgets, nobody gets to sit on the sidelines and wait for royalty checks. We all get out there and hustle. I would rather contract a good book with a strong marketer than a great book from an author who won’t lift a finger to promote.

    Don’t undercut yourself by adding in your query, “I have macular degeneration, can’t drive anymore, get around with a walker, have a phobia about flying and I’m computer illiterate. My dream is to have a book published before I die.” Why anyone would give full disclosure so early in the game is beyond me. What can I do except send a rejection?

    And finally, please don’t try to sway me with a list of university accomplishments, lofty credits and literary aspirations. You read the guidelines on our website, right? We’re looking for genre fiction. You know, the stuff average people want to read: a good mystery with a dead body on the second page; a romance where the boy always gets the girl; a Western where the good guys wear white hats and ultimately win the gunfight. Not highbrow, but immensely entertaining. Something we can sell.

    So, all I can do is write, “Thank you for your query letter, but I’m sorry we cannot publish your book at this time.”

  2. […] didn’t get much writing done this month, but I blogged about writing on my publisher’s blog. We prepared a few interesting blog posts about writing that will be posted this month, so if you […]

  3. […] We did a series on our blog, explaining “The top 12 reasons manuscripts are rejected,” ( and I’d advise authors aiming for publication to keep those in […]

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