Rejection Insights


Yesterday, Angela James, the Executive Editor from Carina Press, shared a few insightful sentences from the rejection report she was working on with her followers on twitter.

I’ve used copy and paste and saved almost all of her #editreport tweets. After considering more people who missed it yesterday might benefit from the tips, I’ve decided to post the tweets on my blog.

Also, I think these tips may serve not only those who plan to submit Carina Press, but every writer on the process of querying agents and/or publishers, seeing as they may reject submissions for the same reasons.


First, let me point out a few things:

James shared two links with her followers: one that explained about the reasons for rejection and one about Revise and Resubmit. Also, I found this post called Things we don’t reject books for. You should check them out as they clarify a lot of questions all of us have.

James also shared the link for her Before You Hit Send workshop (an “intensive three-week workshop where she shares some of the common pitfalls she’s seen in submissions and contest entries.”)


Second, here are some of the questions people (including me) asked James during the #editreport tweets:

(note the answers come before the questions)

Last calculations: accepting 5% of slush. Abt 8% overall subs. RT @Juliana_Haygert: Can you share the acceptance/rejection rate with us?

Around 75/week. RT @Juliana_Haygert: @angelajames Another question: how many subs per week or month @CarinaPress receives?

Maybe… 10-15%. Pretty high # bcuz of # of editors reading subs MT @ros_clarke: Do you have an idea how many books get read to the end?

Yes we do. Too much depends on story. RT @ixtumea: @angelajames Do you see a lot of the back story dump? When is too much in your opinion?

Not really. Must just be able to manage schedule. RT @NadiaLee: @angelajames Is there a limit on how many books your editors can acquire?

16 in last 2 months RT @LuannaN_Grace: @angelajames do you get many revise and resubmit recommendations from your editors? #editreport

Usually only get 25% back. Acquire half of those. RT @sarahtanner: @angelajames How many R&R eventually result in a contract? Thanks!


Now the actual tweets (in chronological order):

“Stilted and adverb-heavy”#editreport

“feels like a Message Book, & the message…is not subtle, it’s overwhelming the narrative” #editreport

“an opportunity for rich, vivid worldbuilding, but it fell flat” #editreport

“Passive voice, tense shifts, flat. Not ready for submission.” #editreport

“The voice is off…trying too hard…doesn’t feel authentic, too much tell” #editreport

“The synopsis doesn’t promise anything compelling enough to keep reading” #editreport

“suffering from dialogue that is spoken and then is described in tone and detail with extended speech tags” #editreport

“3rd person omniscient, so I feel distant, head-hopping is more jarring than helpfully informative of everyone’s states of mind” #editreport

“Tell-y infodump right up front…Redundant info, not engaging.” #editreport

“moved quickly & prose was okay, but it felt like it was treading pretty common ground…wasn’t any discernible, real conflict” #editreport

“but I didn’t find myself invested in this.” #editreport

“the writing just isn’t tight or polished enough, and the voice doesn’t always feel consistent or assured” #editreport

“a little slow to get going, doesn’t have quite enough energy or line by line tension.” #editreport

“some overwriting, getting characters from point A to point B…characterizations are heavy-handed” #editreport

“some witty banter & good characterization, but am passing because story does not have the sizzle it needs & has forced conflict” #editreport

“In the end it’s an okay story, but it fails to go beyond that to be a truly publishable one.” #editreport

“filled with cliché stereotypes” #editreport

“(too much) Backstory, a lack of compelling action, and some relationship building that tries too hard” #editreport

“could be considerably shortened…too many scenes do not serve a purpose, contribute neither to character development nor plot” #editreport

“X needs to be a more fully developed character in order to make this story really work” #editreport

“The setting and characters really pulled me into this novel” #editreports (thought I’d share a few positive comments as well)

“nice description & action-driven opening propelled novel forward despite some passive voice & rather unclear motivation” #editreport

“opening chapters filled w/dull, daily details that get across sense of pervading discontent but don’t encrage extended reading” #editreport

“dialogue is snappy and the pacing zips along…writing has intelligence and good energy” #editreport

“There’s too much boring setup in the first chapter” #editreport

“By end of 2nd chapter this story was starting to sound familiar, then I realized we’ve rejected this before, under diff. title” #editreport

“love this story’s premise but…dialogue doesn’t sound authentic, there’s too much telling vs. showing.” #editreport

“I kept noticing the writing instead of getting lost in the story” #editreport

“This contemporary romance was never really compelling enough to keep reading” #editreport

“The synopsis for this story was excellent but the story did not hold up” #editreport

“There was no connection between the two main characters and their interaction did not ring true” #editreport

“author made real effort not to use exposition…instead relied on simplistic & stilted dialogue to explain what was happening” #editreport

“There were moments that sparkled,but also scenes that dragged, prose plagued by grammatical errors, & a long, contrived ending” #editreport

“There’s not a strong hook to this women’s fiction novel” #editreport

“this storyline is overdone in this genre and needs a great voice or a fresh angle to pull it off–this novel had neither” #editreport

“overall it was overwritten and I felt…I was slogging through stilted, adverb-laden narrative to get to the story” #editreport

“writing lacks depth. Lots and lots of narrative. Action doesn’t start fast enough. POV wobbles” #editreport

“I was initially so excited to read this. I adore XXX stories & the promise of a trilogy hooked my interest immediately. ” #editreport

“story had many holes & loose threads at the end. Pages would be devoted to an issue that wld disappear…never mentioned again” #editreport

“characters would repeat conversations from previous chapters, nearly word for word” #editreport

“characters never moved past 2D, and the secondary characters were more caricatures than anything else” #editreport

“the multiple POV’s were often times unnecessary and jarring to the plot” #editreport

“Overall, I loved the hook for this. Yet, I couldn’t engage in the characters or the plot. ” #editreport

“It’s a fairly common plot and nothing about the writing stands out” #editreport (is this one starting to look familiar?)

“An interesting premise, yet I don’t think the author has quite developed her craft.” #editreport

“There was an initial promise for deep, intriguing characters. Yet, the author gives away way too much, way too soon” #editreport ½

“Within the first fifty pages, readers have already gone over the same memories, info-dumps, and backstory multiple times.” #editreport 2/3

“One hundred pages in, and the same information is being revisited and analyzed yet again” #editreport 3/3 (ended up being 3 tweets!)

“ending is too easy and the author breezes over the significant moments—” #editreport ½

“instead filling the narration with telling that distances the reader from achieving any emotional connection” #editreport 2/2

“romance has zero sizzle and reads as though the author is simply going through the motions” #editreport

“romance has zero sizzle and reads as though the author is simply going through the motions” #editreport

“Pace moves too quick, rather than allowing the reader to feel the emotion and heartbreak, the author skims over them” #editreport

“I think the author shows talent for capturing the historical atmosphere” #editreport

“The writing in this novella is so clean it hurts to reject it, but the plot does not grow to be more compelling” #editreport

“This contemp romance feels like it needs a LOT of craft work.” #editreport

“I really wanted to like this, but ultimately after the first couple of chapters I found it too jarring. ” #editreport

“the stakes didn’t feel big enough to engage me” #editreport

“I really wanted to like it and found the sexual tension between the characters very sexy and compelling” #editreport

“I have no idea what’s going on in this story” #editreport

“I found this so implausible it almost offended me” (editor describing a scene where the heroine has insta-lust) #editreport

“wasn’t badly written, but the characters were rather bland” #editreport


Note: I didn’t copy the positive tweets since I was only interested in the negative aspects of each rejection.


I hope this helps you (and me) on the nervous-wrecking submission process!




2 Responses to Rejection Insights

  • WOW-I can’t believe you took the time to copy all that down! Thanks so much for sharing. It was extremely helpful! I was checking the Entangled thread from Absolute Write and decided to click on your website and check it out.

    Thanks again for all the good info.

Hi! I'm Juliana Haygert,

USA Today Bestselling Author.

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