Why is My Book Getting Rejected?

Every writer, on some level, struggles with rejection. Often you're left with no rhyme or reason as to why your book is being rejected by publishers and agents. It’s crickets. The worst is when you start receiving contradictory rejections. One person likes this part of the book idea; another doesn’t.

Have you ever wondered why your book is getting rejected?

It’s a little bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, right? This porridge is too cold, this one too hot.... Every writer wants to find that sweet spot, the one that is just right.

Can we offer some advice as to why you’re getting rejected?

If you’ve done your homework - honed your query letter and polished your book proposal - then maybe the problem isn’t the things you’ve done, it’s this one small thing you didn’t do.

As literary agents, we look for the smooth handle for your book idea. It’s the secret sauce that elevates your book idea to the next level: Create a solution-based sentence about your book. This helps us share the idea with publishers, too. Acquisitions editors want this so they can fire up their sales team.


Because solutions sell.

That’s the smooth handle that publishers and agents are searching for.

And if you’ve got a great solution for a problem facing your reader, which you better have, you can use it as the North Star for the entire ecosystem of your book - the messaging, the promotion on your platform, etc.


“Nonfiction books need to solve a problem.”


Let me give you an example of what we’re talking about.

For Jon Acuff’s book Soundtracks, we used this statement: Change overthinking from a super problem into a superpower. Everyone overthinks. When surveyed, 99% of Jon’s audience said they do. It’s a common problem that Jon had a solution for. That smooth handle for this idea gave his editor and the publisher a snapshot of his book idea. It included the problem (overthinking) and the solution (superpower).

Here’s another example from John Mark Comer’s The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: Hurry is the great enemy of our spiritual lives. In order to live better lives, we must eliminate it. Problem + solution = strong concept.

And here’s one more from Jennie Allen’s book, Get Out of Your Head: Jennie inspires and equips us to transform our emotions, our outlook, and even our circumstances by taking control of our thoughts. Similar to Jon’s book, Jennie is going to help us navigate our way to taming our thoughts.

Solution-based concepts sell books
, not copying what’s already out there in the market. Make sure to position your book with a solution to a problem that your readers are dealing with. If you do this, you will put your book idea on the fast track to acceptance.

Take Action: Need Help with Positioning Your Book Idea?

Before you spend countless hours writing a book proposal or fleshing out chapter summaries, you need to know if you actually have a good book idea. We’ve got an awesome course that’ll help you strengthen your book idea. It’s called “How Do I Know If I Have a Good Book Idea?” Through these videos, you will discover the essential elements of a strong, marketable book idea. Whether you’re just getting started or revising a current manuscript, this course will help you focus your efforts on the best possible result!

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