There are several reasons why your manuscript was rejected by the publisher you pitched it to. None of these reasons is personal.
In my years of pitching to publishers before getting published, I’ve accumulated probably almost a hundred rejection letters. You’d think I would have given up by now, buried myself under the pile of ‘no thanks’ I’ve gotten (thankfully they are all on electronic form and cannot suffocate me in real life).
However, since I also join writing conferences and festivals, I learn from those who are in the industry and realise, it’s not all about me all the time. Here are some of the reasons publishers don’t say yes (learned from the publishers I’ve listened to over the years):
When the vampire YA genre flooded the bookshelves a couple of years ago, the same thing happened to the inboxes of the publishers. This happens every time a specific type of book becomes popular – Fifty Shades included. When the publisher decides to take on a book and your manuscript of the same flavour arrives, they will say no because they already have something similar they are preparing to release. Yes, it sucks but sometimes it is all about timing.
They don’t know how to market it
Sounds trivial right? But it does happen. If the publisher has a hard time finding an angle to market, it gets dumped in the ‘too hard’ basket. When I found out about this, the whole publishing industry thing really sunk in. We dream about the art and the craft of it all but reality sucks. Publishers need to market your book, it is as simple as that.
It’s not their genre
Every single publisher I’ve heard speak says the same thing – research the type of books they publish to make sure that you are pitching to the right publisher. If yours is non-fiction and the publisher only publishes fiction, then you will get rejected. If you are writing children’s books and the publisher doesn’t publish that genre, you are going to get rejected. Research is your friend.
You didn’t follow instructions
It sounds so stupid but you’d be surprised how many times publishers say this. When publishers ask you to submit using a certain font size, spacing, method (snail mail or electronic) and so on, there is a reason for this. They’ve polished their workflow over the years so that they can cover as many submissions as possible. They get annoyed when you don’t follow those instructions. So follow it.
Your manuscript isn’t ready
This final one is the writer’s fault. Don’t submit your first or second draft because if it’s not ready then you’ve missed your chance submitting to that publisher. Don’t submit a half-baked manuscript. Get proper beta readers, or even an editor or an assessor. Edit and edit again. Don’t rush it because you only have one chance to make a good impression.