Mistakes that Lead to Instant Rejection

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 30 2019

I don’t believe that “mistakes” lead to instant rejection, but I also know I’m kidding myself. They do. Although, I don’t think they are really mistakes authors make. They are more along the lines of not having done researching and not knowing. Authors reading this blog, following agents on Twitter, reading Query Shark and others tend not to make mistakes that lead to instant rejection. Remember, knowledge is power.

On my post on query mistakes that won’t lead to rejection a reader asks:

I haven’t searched through your blog archives just yet, but do you offer any guidance on mistakes that *could* lead to instant rejection? I’m sure that this is highly subjective, and most of the *standards* have already been well established, but do you have any particular pet peeves? (Also, any juicy secrets about the industry would be more than welcome as well. I’ve been particularly fascinated by the rise of feminist political beliefs and their influence on publishing and wondered if you could weigh in on that?)

I don’t instantly reject a lot. I tend to try to read and evaluate every query, but that’s only as long as the author has given me something to properly evaluate. There are things authors do that hurt themselves. Things that lead to instant rejection:

  1. Not writing a blurb, but querying with, “I have written a great book about a boy and a dog. Can I send it to you?”
  2. Submitting in a genre I don’t represent–usually for BookEnds, Jr.
  3. Extreme word counts. I will look at things outside recommended word counts, but I will reject those way too far outside. Anything under 50,000 words (in adult fiction) is an instant rejection. Anything over 200,000 words is an instant rejection.
  4. Starting your query by criticizing agents, publishers and the work of other writers.
  5. Just being a jerk.

3 responses to “Mistakes that Lead to Instant Rejection”

  1. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    For most of us those things won’t matter anyway. Juts be a normal human being and follow the submission guidelines and you won’t be rejected for anything other than it wasn’t for that agent.

  2. Avatar Bryan Fagan says:

    So much of this is common sense. it puzzles me why people continue to make these mistakes.

  3. Avatar Vicki Zell says:

    I understand that too many mistakes is an issue but if the story is interesting and plotted out therefore keeping readers engaged I would think the publisher would do their job at helping out the author. I think there’s too many writers for so few publishers and excelled excellence is the problem in today’s publishing world. I have myself gotten numerous rejections and until the internet came along I was at my wits end and turned away from my dream and myself. Now with all the meaningful ways of getting your voice heard I am no longer disillusioned by the fact you’re not notable if you don’t have the background backing of a substantial publisher. If writing is truly a love you can not be without then wealth should play no part of it. All of the nonsense you have to go through to get a publisher to notice you is a waste of your time. A really good to honest publisher should only need to read your first chapter midway chapter and last ending chapter. If it doesn’t capture or light up then onto the next. If it does capture the publisher THEN get to know the writer/author/storyteller START with the story then end with the author makes much more sense. Don’t you think?