10 Reasons Why Your Manuscript Might Be Getting Rejected By Publishers

PROMOTE Your Book (3)

It’s been a while that I’ve been editing manuscripts and a lot of debutant authors have come to me with one common woe. Their (unedited) manuscripts are getting rejected. While I am not a literary agent, I do have the experience of handling manuscripts and making them what publishers desire. While talking to some friends who are voracious readers, we came to the topic – how do publishers decide which manuscripts have potential and which ones don’t. To be honest, only a publisher can tell you what will work but I have come up with a list of ten things which just won’t work, after a lot of research. There might be more reasons and the reason your manuscript was rejected might not be one of these, nevertheless, this post is an attempt to throw some light on what might be the reasons.

Your manuscript was unedited

Imagine this. The first draft of your manuscript is complete and you shoot mails to publishers with a cover letter and the first three chapters. And then, you wait. Chances are, you either don’t hear back from anyone, or if you do, it is a rejection. Does this mean you are a bad writer? While there is a tiny probablity of that being true, I’ll take a random guess and say – no. What went wrong was that you sent a rough draft, without waiting to first polish it. How can you avoid this? Firstly, by being patient. Walk away from the first draft. After a couple of days, come back to it. Read it and make changes as you progress. Do the first round of edit yourself. Hiring an editor is a good idea.

Your manuscript doesn’t seem honest.

Go back to your manuscript and ask yourself honestly – was this a sincere effort to pen down a story you had, or did you write something because it is in trend? Did you ape someone – in style of writing or in the plot of the story? Remember, publishers will invest in you only if they are convinced your book will bring them revenue. Is your manuscript original and honest enough to deliver that?


Your cover letter spoke more about you than about your story.

Well! Unless who you are and what you do can send the book on re-print just during pre-orders, your credentials are not important. Of course, you have to write about yourself, like about your previous books (if any) and other accomplishments solely related to previously published books. Apart from that, let your story do the talking. Talk about the product you want the publisher to sell, let that be the only focus in your cover letter.

Your cover letter had errors.

Like your manuscript, your cover letter should be error free too! Take help if needed, but do ensure that the language in your query or cover letter is impeccable.

Your manuscript had unprofessional typesetting.

Do not send your proposal/query letter/manuscript in fancy fonts. These are professional documents and need to look like it. To stay safe use one of these permissible fonts – Times New Roman, Tahoma, Verdana, Georgia, Palatino, Franklin Gothic, Book Antiqua, Bookman Old Style, keep the size to 12, double space the lines and use black letters on white background.

You’ve praised your manuscript too much.

While you do need to present your manuscript as a sellable proposition, it is not a good idea to boast about it. Do not include in your query letter how everyone who has read it so far has loved it and how you are sure the book will be the biggest hit of the decade. Don’t sound over-confident and/or cocky.

Your manuscript reads like documentary.

Fiction or non-fiction, your manuscript has to have a structure. If the actual story/point of focus comes after hundred pages, the book becomes automatically unsellable. Your reader will not keep patience till the tenth chapter or till after a hundred pages. Make sure you have spun the plot well and carefully.

Your manuscript is not suitable for the publisher’s reader base.

If you have sent a chiclit to a publisher who deals mainly with mystery/thriller genre, the manuscript is bound to be rejected. Do know that this need not be counted as a rejection, your manuscript and the context of the story was sent to the wrong address! Do your research well and shortlist publishers who publish books similar to the kind of story you have written. It is advisable to send the manuscript to those who would be at least remotely interested in the topic of the manuscript.

Your manuscript has too many characters.

In short, one glance at the manuscript and the publisher is confused about the story and how it will progress. And that means, the reader would be confused too. At times, authors, specially debutant authors are so absorbed in the ambition to write a best-seller, that they stretch the plot too much. Avoid doing this.

The language in your manuscript is pretentious.

I have said this to almost all my clients – the key to writing a good story is to write in the words most people would understand. Whichever the language you are writing in, use simple and clear language. Do not sit with the dictionary if your aim is to find the toughest synonym. Remember, that even if there are ten synonyms to a word, all their usage would not be the same.


For assitance with manuscript editing or promoting your book online, get in touch via the contact form.


10 Things To Remember When Your Manuscript Is Being Edited


Your manuscript is complete. You have been through it with a fine comb, made a dozen changes and only when you are happy with what you have produced, have you decided to hunt for a good editor. Rightly, so. In my years of experience as an editor, I have noticed that the role of an editor is not very clear to people who are not editors. Fair enough, we don’t need to know everything. Here is a checklist of things you need to remember before and during the editing process –

  1. Check your editor’s experience and portfolio. Don’t hire just about anyone who can write grammatically correct sentences. Check experiences, work done and preferably, some samples if the editor is a stranger to you. Hire someone who knows how a manuscript should be edited, in particular – this is important.

  2. Your editor is not your ghostwriter. Unless the terms of the editing procedure includes re-writing, don’t expect the same from your editor. You are the author. If changes need to be made in the manuscript, your editor will only suggest them and edit after you have incorporated them.

  3. Your editor will edit your manuscript. If other services like preparing the concept note, summary, etc are not in the package, it is rude to try to get them done right before you pay the last instalment.

  4. If you want your editor to follow a certain pace, make sure you do that when you are reviewing or have an email from your editor to answer. Keep each other in loop and respect each others’ times.

  5. You are hiring your editor’s services for your manuscript. Their time is still theirs. Please respect that.

  6. Revision takes time. Be patient.

  7. Do the first edit yourself. This will point out developmental flaws if any, and you can mend them. Hand over the manuscript when you are satisfied with the plot.

  8. Listen to what your editor is saying. If you have a counter-reasoning, point it out. But do understand that the editor’s keen eye notices what yours might skip.

  9. The editor will make what you have written, look the best that it can. The story will still remain yours; as will be the onus of making it a best seller. Editing is a tool used in the process of creating a book, it is not a lever.

  10. You would require your manuscript ready in time, right? Yes. And your editor would expect the installments to come in time, without having to remind repeatedly.

That’s all for now. All the best with your book!

How To Handle Negative Book Reviews


From the time you had dreamt of writing a book, to finally writing it and getting it published, you have treated your book only with love. And of course, you’ve wanted that everyone does so.

But, when you are sending your baby out in the world, for readers to devour and enjoy it, be prepared that it will be dissected and torn apart as well. Figuratively, of course.

Dealing with authors and manuscripts day in and out, I wanted to understand how an author perceives book reviews. I spoke to Shuchi Singh Kalra, author of Done With Men and I am Big. So What!?, and she has a very clear take on this. “If someone offers genuine and constructive criticism, I definitely make a note of it but I don’t pay much heed to brickbats. Everyone has different tastes in reading and you really can’t please all, no matter how amazing a writer you are.”

Exactly, everyone has different tastes. Every one doesn’t need to like your book; in fact it is humanly impossible. There are people who don’t like Rowling’s works, you know? No kidding! While you cannot do much about the reviews which come from readers who have bought your books, you can try to use a little method while sending your own books out for reviews. Now this can be a little tricky, but if you are short listing reviewers to send your books to, do the following:

  • aMake a list of possible reviewers.
  • Go through their blogs. This is important because there is no point in sending a chic-lit to someone who reads mythologies or thrillers only. Or, vice versa.
  • Once you have shortlisted reviewers who read books of the genre your book belongs to, rate their blogs based on hits and digital media exposure. Don’t send your book to every reviewer. 10 well-written and genuine reviews are worth fifty casual reviews.

What happens when you select your reviewers wisely is that your book is going specifically to those who read the genre. In the market also, that is how books will be bought, mostly. Rarely would a historical fiction lover go buy a sci-fi unless there are rave reviews about it, right?

Remember that such reviewers will only be a handful. Most of the reviews on Goodreads, Amazon and Flipkart, as well as on blogs, are by readers who have bought your books. Appreciate their feedbacks; they pay for your words.

“I haven’t received too many stinkers for DWM but going by reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, there have been a few readers who didn’t dig it too much. And that doesn’t affect me one bit. As long as most people who read my book like it, I’ll continue to write the way I do,” added Kalra. This is yet another point an author must remember. There are bound to be people who don’t like what you write. You need to focus on their ratio to the readers who like your books. As long as most readers have loved what you have written, relax. Read the criticism and find out more about them. If someone has written a negative review out of spite or just for the sake of it, it will show anyway.

So, calm down. Take a deep breath. Your book is going to do great. Get ready to write an even better story!

Our Story

(C) Pixabay

(C) Pixabay

“आज क्या लिख रही हो?”
“कुछ नहीं।”
“कुछ नहीं कैसे? कुछ लिख तो रही हो। मुझे आवाज़ आ रही है, क़लम की नोख़ का पन्ने पे घिसने का…”
“अरे पढ़ के बताओ तो।”
“पर क्यों?”
“हमारी कहानी का अंत लिख रही हूँ, बाद में सुन लेना।”
“अंत अभी हुआ नही, तुम लिख कैसे रही हो?”
“अंत लिखूँगी, तभी ना होगा,” उसने कहा, अपनी आख़री ख़त लिखते हुए। ख़त में उसने लिखा की वो अपनी मर्ज़ी से अपनी जान ले रही है और उसके मरने पर उसकी आँखें भाई को ही दी जाएँ।

When Kay Thought She Had Failed…

(c) Pixabay

(c) Pixabay

Little Kay was sad. After returning from school, she quietly changed her clothes, grabbed a glass of milk and some cookies, and went to sit on the windowsill in her parents’ room. She loved to sit here. It gave her peace. She sat there drinking milk and munching on her favourite cookies, while she waited for her mother to come home.

When Antara came home, she found her precious daughter Kay, sitting on her favourite window sill, looking outside while tears rolled down her cheeks. Alarmed, Antara rushed to her daughter to check if she was hurt. Seeing her mother, Kay started crying loudly.
“What happened, sweetie? Are you hurt? Is it paining somewhere?” she asked. Shaking her head, Kay kept crying. “Darling, you need to stop crying and tell me what happened!”
“I…I..tried for the e-extempore c-club b-but everyone l-aughed at m-m-me!” wailed Kay. Antara’s heart broke into a million pieces hearing her daughter talk of failure. She knew this was just the beginning. Life will bring more failures and her daughter needed to be strong in handling them. Kay was almost seven but couldn’t speak properly yet. She was on speech therapy where she was showing marvelous progress. But she still stammered when excited or upset. In her excitement for the tryouts, she must have stammered in front of the other children and what resulted was in front of her.
Taking her daughter into her lap, she rocked the child while she spoke to her softly. “And what happened to your football match?” she asked.
“We w-won that, m-mamma!” she smiled as she said, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.

“What! And you didn’t even tell me about it! I had to ask you about it, Kay! This calls for a celebration! I’ll call papa and tell him, we are going to eat Chinese tonight. Your faaavourite!” she hugged her daughter as she said.
“But, m-amma. I didn’t m-make it t-to the e-extempore club,” she whimpered.
Ignoring her daughter’s words, Antara asked, “Tell me, what else happened in school today? Did you get your Math test marks?” she asked as she continued to rock her child, holding her tight in her arms.
“F-full marks, m-mamma! R-ritesh l-lost one m-mark in a s-silly mistake!” the child replied looking up at her mother’s face joyfully.
“Look at you! A football champion AND a math whiz! Good lord, Kay, you make me so proud to be your mother!” said Antara, her eyes twinkling.
“B-but, m-mamma….”
“Look Kay, you succeeded in two things today while you failed in one. Do you see how you are sad about what you couldn’t do? Who will celebrate what you could achieve, then? Will all the hard work you put in for football and math go to waste?”
Kay had stopped crying and was staring intently at her mother’s face.
“Try for the extempore club again, next year. Work harder on your speech; you are already so much better! You think today’s failure is permanent? No darling, you can win it the next time! But in the meanwhile, be happy about the good that happened to you. As you grow older, what I am saying now will make more sense to you. Remember honey, always focus on the present and the positive. As for the extempore tryouts next year, work harder and you shall get what you want!”
Antara noticed that Kay had started smiling now, the prospect of a new challenge intriguing the tiny mind.
She picked Kay up and sat on the sofa. Dialing her husband’s number, she handed the phone to Kay saying, “Tell papa about school today…”


(c) Pixabay

(c) Pixabay

“I’ll race you to the pool,” Rohan said, as he threw his towel on the chair in front of him and raced towards the diving board. Nimble on his feet, he climbed the lower diving board and walked to the edge. He looked at her for approval, his eyes glowing with anticipation. Seeing a slight nod from her, he positioned himself and dived neatly into the pool.

Lying on the chaise, Amrita clapped for her son. Her little boy was swimming independently. Just a month ago, he was petrified of getting into the pool. He had begged her not to send him into the water. His swimming teacher in school was a obviously not doing his job right, Amrita thought with a frown forming between her brows. The man couldn’t even make a little boy learn to swim. All he did was, give excuses for his own inability to teach. The man had the guts to tell her, that her Bubbles had a psychological fear of water. Said he should see a specialist first and then learn to swim. Nonsense! She made a mental note of bringing the teacher over to see Bubbles swim. Her Bubbles. Her pride. Her handsome boy.

By now, Rohan had come out of the pool. “I’ll dive again, maa!” he waved at her and ran. The next moment he was at the edge, making a dive for the chlorine water of the swimming pool.

With a smile she looked at his direction, waiting for him to start swimming. But all that she could see was blood spreading rapidly into the water, right where Bubbles had dived. Her eyes darted around the region and it took her a moment to register that he had jumped into the shallow side of the pool.


aHe was late that night. Really late.

“Rani must be furious by now. What a day! Meeting after meeting, no respite from work and no charge left in my mobile,” he thought to himself as he waited for the security to open the gate to his building. It was past midnight. Not a soul around, just the two men from the security services.

Once inside, he didn’t wait for the lift. Instead, he climbed the stairs, two at a time. Once outside his home, he rang the bell and waited. There was no sound from inside.

“Raaaniii!” he yelled and rang the bell again, repeatedly this time. He was tired; his entire body was sore. There was so much work at office. Maya’s become too demanding. She would want him to spend time with her at work and after work too. Today she had threatened to call Rani if he didn’t take her out for dinner. Phew! He made a mental note to sort this issue at the earliest. Rani shouldn’t find out anything. He loved her. He really did. Maya was a mistake which he cannot shake off.

Still, no sign of Rani. He took his phone out to call her but realised that it had no charge in it. Suddenly, he remembered that he had the keys. Rani would always be right by the door, so he never had to use them. Fumbling in his pocket, he got the keys out and opened the door. Inside, all the lights were switched on. Food was laid on the table, left untouched, cold now. Cursing himself, he mumbled, “She hasn’t eaten. But, where is she?”

“Rani!” he called, closing the main door shut. Wind blew in through the open french windows. It was October, already slightly chilly. He frowned looking at the open windows. Walking inside, he went to their room.

There she was, lying on the bed. He sighed with relief; no questions to answer tonight. He went directly inside the bathroom to change.

Coming back to the room, he noticed she hadn’t changed into her night clothes. Guess she was tired. But she hated to sleep without a bath and a change of clothes. Moving towards the phone, he saw she was holding her mobile in her hand. Chuckling to himself, he went to take the phone. “You are addicted to whatsapp, dear wife!” he whispered. Taking the phone, he shook her slightly to wake her up. With the jolt he pulled his hand back. She was cold.

But the room was warm! Heart beating fast, he shook her once more. She didn’t move. He looked at the mobile in his hand and unlocked it. The call history was open. One incoming call from Maya and 32 unanswered calls made to him. Maya’s call was about 5 mins long and about the same time she had threatened him that she will call Rani. Putting two and two together, he guessed that the call must have got connected by mistake and Rani had heard everything. Numb, he just sat at the feet of the bed, not sure what he should do. She was dead. SHE WAS DEAD. But how? How could his Rani die just like that! Their first child was due in four months and they were so happy! He wanted to scream but his voice got stuck in his throat. He sat there, staring at her. His Rani. No one has loved him as much as she had.

No one could. She has lived for him. And she has probably died because of him.

Minutes went by. The house was silent now, except for the clock ticking in the master bedroom, and occasional sobs of a man who thought he could handle it all.

Slowly, he pulled himself up and called the ambulance. They rushed in and the body was taken for postmortem. Rani had died of a heart attack. Reason of the heart attack unknown to the doctor and the police.

But one man knew. Law doesn’t recognise emotional trauma as a crime but God has his own ways to punish. The man who had killed his wife and his unborn child, would live the pain for years now.




She woke with a start. Dazed, she grabbed her phone from the nightstand and checked the time.
05:00 am.

Heaving a sigh of relief, she walked to the window and pulled the blinds away. The view outside was divine. Blue waves crashing on the rocks, ever so gently. The shore looked so peaceful at this time of the day. Just the opposite of what it is at night.

She was hungry. But the view was so nice. Ah, but the hunger pangs! As she tore her sight away from the view, she noticed the bench. On it was a small figure, sitting all alone.
“Eric*!” she called.
What was he doing there so early, all alone?
“ERIC!!” she screamed this time. She grabbed her robe and dashed across the room and down the stairs. Outside the house, she couldn’t see till as far as the beach.
“Oh God, no! Eric!” she sobbed as she ran.
Scary, numbing thoughts had started flooding her mind. What if he went near the water? What if he fell down? No, not Eric! Her Eric! He was all they had. What a bad mother was she, how could she not have heard him go out of the house! Where was John? Has he gone for his morning run?
As she turned a bend, she could see the end of the path and the sea. She couldn’t see the bench, yet. Running a little farther, she saw the bench and ran towards it.

“Eric! Eric!” but there was no one on the bench.
“ERIC!” she looked on both sides and ran randomly trying to find her child. She was a woman possessed, crying hysterically. But there was no sign of little Eric. Dejectedly, she sat by the bench, crying. Crying until she just lay there, her body devoid of any energy. She stared at the sky while tears flew down from her eyes.

*Eric, 6, son of Pam and John Knox, had drowned and died one night two years ago. John Knox had drowned with his son, while trying to save him.