Fiction Rejections

by Jeff

I was interested in submitting my story to your website, but apparently I'm well over the Max limit for the character count. I was interested in gettting another opinion about my work, having been rejected by four publishers already, all seemed interested but for some reason they didn't want to publish the story. Why I don't know. I just wanted to know what exactly I'm missing about it. If they enjoyed the story, why wasn't it worth being picked up?


Rejections can be difficult to understand. Fiction is rejected for so many reasons:

  1. Too much narrative summary (telling instead of showing)

  2. Sloppy editing (passive verbs, too many participial phrases, poor punctuation)

  3. Wooden dialogue

  4. No strong story question

Those are the most common reasons fiction is rejected, but other reasons may have nothing to do with your writing:

  1. The publisher may have exhausted the budget for the period

  2. They may have published a story similar to yours recently

  3. They may have received stories they simply liked better

If your fiction is rejected repeatedly, the best approach is to spend a few dollars and get a professional opinion. A professional writer can pinpoint problems quickly and make suggestions about which areas of your writing may need improvement.

You can ask friends and family for advice, but they may not want to hurt your feelings and may not have the knowledge to articulate what is wrong. Even writer friends may not have the knowledge yet to articulate the problem in a helpful way.

A professional can analyze an entire story, to improve that particular piece of writing, or he or she can look at a small sample of your work and point to general issues that will prevent publication. The latter will cost the least.

If you seriously want to know if your fiction has issues that prevent publication you might consider the following options:

  1. Join a low cost creative writing class and ask the instructor for honest feedback

  2. Schedule a free appointment with the local writer in residence at your local library or university

  3. Hire a writing mentor

  4. Pay for a manuscript evaluation

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