Why Agents Reject a Manuscript: By the Numbers

By Jason Boog Comment

fineprint23.pngMost of the writers in the audience have a few rejection slips buried in their desks–this editor could wallpaper his office with his collected rejections. Today, agent Janet Reid offered her readers the rare chance to see why she rejected 122 different manuscripts.

Since last summer, the agent from Fine Print Literary has asked 124 aspiring writers to send her full manuscripts. Reid kept track of all her responses to this gigantic stack of work, giving us an invaluable peek into The Mind of an Agent. Here are a few examples, complete with tallies:

“Just plain not good enough: 21 (a novel needs to be in the 99th percentile-these were closer to 90%–not bad, but not good enough)

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

Sent back for revisions with editorial suggestions and I expect to see them again in 2010: 9

Got offer from me: 2” (Via Juliet Ulman)