Dear Manuscript: It’s not you. #pitchwars

I’ve been assessing my position from the query trenches with over 50 rejections. Phew! That was hard to admit. But I’m ok with that number because I’m constantly strengthening my work before sending back it in the world. Today I thought I’d share some of the reasons why manuscript gets rejected which have nothing to do with writing abilities.

Book Petals Love Writing Novel Author Lorraine Ambers

Recently I entered Pitch Wars, a competition to be mentored. On average I’m competing with 300 authors for each mentor I’ve submitted to, meaning my chances are slim. This echoes the same stakes as sending a submission to agents. Competing with hundreds of other applicants for the chance to win an agent.

Now I love twitter, it’s fast paced, honest, and has some great tips for writers. And what I love most are the amazing threads that come up offering a glimpse into the minds of mentors and agents.

One of this year’s Pitch Wars mentors is Adalyn Graces. She tweeted: ALSO, if you get 0 requests, it isn’t always because of your submission material. Some possible reasons:

-We are writing or plan to write something with a similar concept.

-The concept just isn’t right for us in that moment

– It could also be a mood thing. Or that a mentor only wanted to request 10 manuscripts out of 300. Literally there’re so many reasons. It’s never a bad idea to get more eyes on your work to see what you can strengthen, but sometimes it’s not about your material.


The Magicians - Quentin meme

Another Pitch Wars mentor, Kim Chance (read her interview with Ari Meghlen) tweeted: No requests in NOT an indicator of the quality of your work. There are just SO many factors that go into the decision to request or not. The talent this year is incredible and the mentors are so proud of you and your hard work.

Over at Jason Hine’s blog he sheds some light on why our stories are loved but just not enough to be chosen. For peace of mind and inspiration I suggest you take a look.

Last weekend I attended a Writers & Artist writing event, where I met the fellow blogger M.L. Davis. She’s a fantastic writer and superb beta partner. Together we absorbed the advice from  a panel of agents answering some of the elusive questions surrounding their Slush Pile and demystifying the process.

About 80% of the queries/ cover letters end up straight in the bin. Simply because the writer hasn’t taken the time to do their homework. So be sure to address the letter to the correct agent and make sure they represent your genre.

Sometimes the concept or voice is too familiar to them. Perhaps they’re already working with someone who’s wrote something similar. Maybe the planets aren’t aligned or they woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Every agent, publisher or mentor is just a person with individual likes, dislikes and ideas.

Keep writing. Don’t stop believing in yourself and chase your dreams. I have faith in you.

Author Lorraine Ambers - YA fantasy romance writer

What are your thoughts on receiving rejections? And dare you admit to how many you’ve had. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, Much Love.

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© Author Lorraine Ambers and, 2018.

26 thoughts on “Dear Manuscript: It’s not you. #pitchwars

  1. I nearly had a mental breakdown when one of only 2 mentors I found that accepted hard sf posted on their blog that ‘0 requests means you should probably rethink about whether or not your book is good enough to make it in the real world.’ I haven’t sent my book out to agents at all, yet, but his blog post was enough to make me feel incredibly small and crappy. Things that you’ve pointed out are helpful to get over things like that.

    At this point, if the mentor who made that post were to accept me, I honestly would have to think about it before accepting. (I probably would accept because it’s a massive honor, but hell – that was really a painful article to tout to people who are almost all not going to get chosen).

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think that’s incredibly irresponsible. I’ve had agents tell me something similar at another writing event. Thankfully, I was also told not to give up. I sent my MS to be critiqued by a literary agent so they could guide me in the right direction. It was the best decision I’ve made: With 3 new chapters I’m starting to get positive feedback from agents. I’m still waiting for that elusive full request, but I’m sure with perseverance I’ll get it.
      Writers are delicate creatures, we need encouragement not stomping on.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Wow, I can’t believe they put that out there. I am sorry their words had an impact on you. Remember, there will be readers out there for your work. Don’t give up on what you want to do, on your story. Some people just want to discourage others. It’s wrong, we should be supporting and encouraging each other.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. M. L. Davis’ blog is how I found about you – by her mentioning the said event. I am glad for it because it means more sources of potential advice :).
    I can’t share anything on the topic of rejection yet – I am in early beta phase for now – but I hope you’ll push through eventually. And if nothing else, be warmed by the feeling of helping others along the way.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Great post, Rainy! 🙂 (and thanks for the link to my blog, it was so, so lovely to meet you!)

    I’m glad you’ve shared the advice about how sometimes your manuscript simply isn’t right at that exact time. It’s reassuring to know it’s “not you” as your blog title so well confirms. I was reading a few agent interviews recently and a few of them said they like to refer to the slush pile as the “talent pool” which I loved! And let me confirm, completely honestly, that you have a wonderful story and it so deserves to get picked up. With your talent, your story, and your dedication I’ve no doubts I’ll be plucking the published copy off of a bookstore shelf soon ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Now that I’ve liked every comment here, I’ll stop acting like a creepy lurker and leave a comment too 😅. Great post, Lorraine. Something definitely needed by those still awaiting Pitchwars news (like me). Ditto on M.L’s comment that you’ve got a book that will be on bookshelves ones day. Kudos to you also for still going after 50 rejections. I can handle rejections (and have had a few myself), what I hate about it is not knowing why it was rejected. It’s all fine for agents to say it comes down to the day they read it, that they’ve already got something similar etc, but the trouble is most of them won’t tell you that. What you get is just a generic rejection that tells you nothing except to keep trying, and leaves you feeling as if what you sent just simply isn’t good enough. Anyway, that’s my two cents. End rant 😅.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. All stalking is welcome. 😍😂Last year a traditionally published author told me that once you start getting personalised feedback you know your getting closer. Thanks to QueryTracker, I can compare rejection forms and see what’s been personalised to me. They echo this post, ‘they didn’t love my concept or voice’ and ‘they definitely loved elements but they’re looking for something particular.’
      I recommend using QueryTracker for that reason. Best of luck in
      PitchWars, but even if we don’t make it we’ve shared the experience together. 💙💙

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve only really had one agent give me any feedback that wasn’t generic. She basically told me to look at the opening chapter of “The Maze Runner” as to what makes an interesting opening for a YA book. Thanks, re: PitchWars. I’m expecting nothing from it except for the experience and the chance to push myself to put things out there. It’s always so much better to do these things knowing others are too 😊.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 😅 you’ve got a fantastic start. I did look it up at the time and I remember thinking it was nothing like my story, and I think it’s also written in first person, which I’m not a fan of, so I didn’t get much from it. But I do understand what she was trying to suggest.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Originally, I kept a list of all the agents I queried. I did my research, only queried those that handled my specific genre, read extensively in Queryshark to get ideas of what to do and what not to do, and even had it critiqued by several others.
    50 submissions, 50 rejections.
    Most didn’t even bother to reply. No response = rejection.
    Those that did gave me the George Costanza break-up line, “It’s not you, It’s me.”
    The trouble is, they were full of shit. It turns out it was me. I finally found an editor that I could afford and corrected a ton of errors. Punctuation problems, POV problems, etc…
    I once read if you don’t get any requests for more pages after 20 queries, that means you have problems that need fixing.
    Most editors I priced wanted over a thousand dollars for a 90,000 word book. Way out of my price range.
    Check out
    She’s good and she’s affordable.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re crushing my attempts to bring positivity to my readers. 😘
      Sometimes being naive is a blessing, if I’d have know how complex learning to write was, I would never have started. Equally, if I’d have known how terrible my first submissions were, I never would have started the querying process. It’s all part of the journey.
      Thank you for the editors link, and as always, thank you for your comment Ron.


    2. A thousand dollars for $90k? That’s not reasonable at all. That’s not even in line with industry standards.

      I thoroughly believe every writer/author should do the beta reading process. New authors, at least, definitely benefit by vetting their book as best they can before submitting it to query. If you get several beta readers and get good feedback, you know you’re heading in the right direction. It’s during this process that you can do the most growth, self-improvement, and take in negative feedback like a champ.

      The problem is that the query process isn’t a feedback loop at all – there is no self-improvement involved, no learning, nothing but rejection. I gather that’s the way it has to be due to time constraints, but doesn’t it suck?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It does Suck. But it’s also completely understandable.

        As with any craft, we’re continually growing, learning and improving. And even if the query process only highlights how much we’ve improved over time, it’s still valuable.

        Thanks for commenting

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Congrats on being so positive in the face of rejection. That’s hard to do, but you have the perseverance, which is half the battle. I think following the rules and submission guidelines is so important. For me, I’m a big rule follower, so getting your manuscript tossed aside for no reason other than ignoring the rules stinks. Thanks for sharing about your experience with rejection.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Pingback: Tell Again Tuesday rejection letters got you down? | C.D. Hersh

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