A few years ago I worked on this graphic novel/picture book. I was really excited about the story (it was/is awesome). I finished it and a couple of illustrations and sent it out into the world. I was rejected. I sent it out to about 8 – 10 agents that I thought would like my work, but got crickets in return. Actually not crickets, but outright rejection. Every single agent was polite, but they didn’t give me the contract I so wanted to have!
In this industry you are going to face rejection. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Just know that it might take dozens of submissions to get the right person or it might take hundreds. Even the best writers and illustrators have been rejected!
Before you send out your work you want to make sure you have the work as polished as possible. Trade manuscripts or dummies with friends. Make sure you research comp books, which are books that are similar to yours that sold well. Make sure your cover letter has a strong pitch, is personalized to the agent or editor you’re mailing it to and has a bio that relates to your career as a writer or illustrator.
10 Reasons Why Your Story/Dummy Might Get Rejected
- You didn’t read the guidelines.
- A book like yours was just sold or the agent is trying to sell a manuscript similar to yours.
- The agent/editor can’t figure out how to sell your story.
- A similar story didn’t sell well.
- It’s not the right time for your story.
- It’s the right time for your story, but the market is saturated.
- It’s just not the right fit.
- There is a small part of the story the agent/editor didn’t connect with.
- The cover letter was terrible/too long.
- There is a problem with the story or pictures.
Assess Your Submission
It’s a good idea to send your work only out to a few people at a time. If you are rejected repeatedly then look at your work Look at the guidelines, cover letter and story. Did you send a YA novel to someone who just does picture books? Was your pitch good? Could there be something wrong with your story? You will likely never know exactly why your work was rejected. If you can’t figure out how to improve your work on your own then show it to someone else. Critique groups are a key component to getting published!
It’s probably not your work. If you are following submission guidelines and writing a decent cover letter you are doing better than most people. You will not get rejected for a small error in your cover letter (but try not to have any errors). Rejections happen for a hundred reasons that may not even have anything to do with your work. If everyone you talk to is saying your work is ready, then ask new people to look at your work. If new people are saying your work is great, then just keep submitting. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!