So, you’ve queried an agent or publisher with your manuscript and have been rejected. Unfortunately, they’ve provided little in the way of feedback about what you are doing wrong. What’s worse, the rejection came in the form of a canned letter. It can get a quite discouraging. After all, it’s not too much to ask for a reason for your rejection and little bit of constructive criticism, right?

If you’d like to know the reasons your manuscript was rejected, contact the editor or agent and ask why. It’s okay to do this, I promise. 🙂 And if you’re really brave, ask for some advice to help you improve your story. If you are friendly, professional and respectful of an agent or editor’s time, they will be more likely to take a moment from their extraordinarily busy schedules to reply.

Now on to a few caveats: You may not get a response. The folks that work in acquisitions departments are some of the busiest in the industry. If you do get a response, don’t expect an e-mail that is dripping with tips to improve your book, in-depth writing advice or even a concise, non-politically correct reason for your rejection. More likely than not, any response you receive will contain a barebones, and possibly meaningless, reason why your manuscript was rejected and not much beyond that. If you do receive some con-crit, don’t expect it to be enough to help you redraft your manuscript into something publishers want.

The hard truth is agents and publishers aren’t in the business of helping unsigned, would-be authors improve their manuscripts. If you want targeted, professional advice, you’ll need to seek it outside of querying process. I’d recommend paying for a manuscript assessment. Such assessments provide a crucial level of feedback that you will not receive from an agent, publisher, or even your critique group.

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