Top 10 Reasons for Book Proposal Rejections

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

by Marcia Yudkin

1. The market is too small.

Translation: We don’t 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 doesn’t fit our list.

Translation: We haven’t published a book in your category, of your format, or for your audience, and aren’t about to try.

Remedy: Try elsewhere.

3. This type of book doesn’t sell.

Translation: Books like this haven’t sold in the past.


  • Research this assertion throughPublisher’s Weekly.
  • Compare your book to something that has sold.
  • Try a more specialized publisher.

4. It’s not right for us.

Translation: We didn’t like it.

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  • Get your proposal reviewed professionally — it may be sloppy or unpersuasive in ways not obvious to you.
  • Keep trying.  Tastes differ.

5. It’s too narrowly focused.

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

Remedy: Try a more specialized publisher.

6. It’s already been done.

Translation: You didn’t convince us your book differs enough from what’s 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. It’s an article, not a book.

Translation: You didn’t 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.  There’s too much competition.

Translation: You didn’t convince us there’s an unfilled niche out there waiting for your book.


  • Do/cite market research on the need for your book.
  • Rewrite your proposal’s analysis of competition.
  • Try a publisher without any titles on the topic.
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9.  It’s too costly to produce.

Translation: We can’t make a profit publishing your book.


  • Reduce requirements for photos, unusual format.
  • Cite evidence that your market will pay more.

10. You’re not an expert in your field.

Translation: We can’t 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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