Top 25 Reasons Your Submissions are Rejected

This post by Heidi M. Thomas originally appeared on The Blood-Red Pencil on 9/30/10.

Tips from the Surrey, B.C. Writers Conference (Oct 22-24). Each year agents and publishers conduct an exercise, where they read aloud the first pages of writers’ submissions to see how far they would read before it would be rejected. Here is a list of reasons for rejection, courtesy of Anne Mini, Author!Author!:

1. An opening image that did not work.

2. Opened with rhetorical question(s).

3. The first line is about setting, not about story.

4. The first line’s hook did not work, because it was not tied to the plot or the conflict of the opening scene.

5. The first line’s hook did not work, because it was an image, rather than something that was happening in the scene.

6. Took too long for anything to happen (a critique, incidentally, leveled several times at a submission after only the first paragraph had been read); the story taking time to warm up.

7. Not enough happens on page 1

8. The opening sounded like an ad for the book or a recap of the pitch, rather than getting the reader into the story.


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