There’s so much more that goes into the decision to represent or acquire a book than simply whether it’s a good story that’s well written. I and probably most others in publishing wish it weren’t, but it’s an inescapable fact that not every book we like or even love will be right for us to represent or publish at one point or another. There are so many factors, really, that it’s almost impossible to definitively say, “This is why xyz got rejected.”

Remember: Getting published requires a combination of preparation, persistence, and timing. Or what is otherwise known as luck. All you can do is be ready when the right moment arrives.

To give you an idea of just how many factors play into the decisions to publish a book, here are a few:


For publishers:

Will it stand out enough from similar books?

Has the publisher already done a book on the topic?

Is it too similar to books on their list?

Is the market flooded with books like this? (How many books on mini pies do home cooks want or need?)

How many similar books are out there right now?

Has the trend passed? (paranormal romance, dystopian, cupcakes, etc.)

Is it innovative enough?

Is it too controversial?

Not controversial enough?

Too experimental?

Does it fit with the publisher’s goals/mission/ideology?

Does the publisher work with this genre/style of book?

Does the publisher have the resources to do the book justice?

Does the publisher have good distribution into that market?

Will this book make money?

Will their sales and marketing team be able to sell this to bookstores/book buyers?

Is the writing good?

Is it too literary?

Not literary enough?


For agents:

Is it something they represent?

Do they have contacts with editors/publishers in that genre?

Can they sell it to a publisher?

Do they know enough about the topic/genre?

Is the author someone with whom they can work well?

Are they passionate enough about the manuscript to spend several years working on it?

Do they love it enough to read it a dozen or more times before publication?

Will the author write more books?

In the same genre?

Does it hit the target market?

Will it speak to the intended audience?

Is it well written?


All valid reasons, whether you think they are reasonable or not.

Plus there are many more. Chime in with other questions that can impact whether a book is published.