Every rejection gets us wondering:what is wrong with my manuscript? Agents and publishers rarely have time to tell us. This post on the web this last week might give us some insight.
It is from literary agent Janet Reid's blog. She gives a breakdown of why she rejected manuscripts she had requested to see (124 in total). This means the writer got through the query stage and the three chapters and was hopeful s/he was on the road to getting an agent. But not actually- as you will see.
Just plain not good enough: 21
Good premise, but the rest of the novel didn't hold up: 11
Not compelling or vivid, or focused; no plot/tension: 10
Slow start or the pace was too slow: 9
I didn't believe the narrative voice: 5
Structural problems with the novel: 8
Interesting premise, but not a fresh or new take on familiar plots/tropes: 7
Had caricatures rather than characters: 2
Grossed me out: 2
Major plot problems: 2
Needed more polish and editorial input than I wanted to do: 2
Good books but I couldn't figure out where to sell them: 7
Got offer elsewhere; I withdrew from scrum: 2
Great writing, just not right for me: 2
Not right for me, refer to other agents: 9
Not quite there/send me the next one: 1
Sent back for revisions with editorial suggestions and I expect to see them again in 2010: 9
Getting second read at FPLM: 1
Got offer from me: 2 (Congrats you two!!!!)
So? Does this make us feel better ...or worse? 2 out of 124? I think I feel sad.