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The Ten Most Common Reasons Book Proposals are Rejected ó and What These Reasons Really Mean

by Marcia Yudkin

1. The market is too small.

Translation:  We donít know how to make money publishing your book.


  • Add market numbers to your proposal. 

  • Add specific marketing suggestions.

  • Try a smaller, niche publisher.

2. It doesnít fit our list.

Translation:  We havenít published a book in your category, of your format, or for your audience, and arenít about to try.

Remedy:  Try elsewhere.

3. This type of book doesnít sell.

Translation:  Books like this havenít sold in the past.


  • Research this assertion through Publisherís Weekly.

  • Compare your book to something that has sold.

  • Try a more specialized publisher.

4. Itís not right for us.

Translation:  We didnít like it.

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  • Get your proposal reviewed professionally ó it may be sloppy or unpersuasive in ways not obvious to you.

  • Keep trying.  Tastes differ.

5. Itís too narrowly focused.

Translation:  We sell more general books to the general public.

Remedy:  Try a more specialized publisher.

6. Itís already been done.

Translation:  You didnít convince us your book differs enough from whatís out there.


  • Re-research your competition.

  • Differentiate your book better in the proposal.

  • More carefully define your readers.

  • Change the angle, audience, approach of the book.    

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7. Itís an article, not a book.

Translation:  You didnít persuade us that you can fill 150-250 printed pages with meaningful material.


  • Lengthen the book to at least 60,000 words.

  • Write it as an article.

  • Approach publishers specializing in short books.

8.  Thereís too much competition.

Translation:  You didnít convince us thereís an unfilled niche out there waiting for your book.  


  • Do/cite market research on the need for your book.

  • Rewrite your proposalís analysis of competition.

  • Try a publisher without any titles on the topic.

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9.  Itís too costly to produce.

Translation:  We canít make a profit publishing your book.


  • Reduce requirements for photos, unusual format.

  • Cite evidence that your market will pay more.

10. Youíre not an expert in your field.

Translation:  We canít book you credibly on talk shows.


  • Find a co-author with the credentials you lack.

  • Get more credentials.

Copyright 2001 Marcia Yudkin. All rights reserved.  

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