iWriterly Video: Literary Agents Share the Top Reasons Why Manuscripts Are Rejected in the Query Box

What are the top reasons literary agents reject a manuscript? Seven literary agents each share the top three reasons why they turn down a manuscript.




Cortney Radocaj, Literary Agent, Belcastro Literary Agency

Kaitlyn Johnson, Literary Agent, Corvisiero Literary Agency

Kat Kerr, Literary Agent, Donald Maas Literary Agency

Kelly Peterson, Literary Agent, Rees Literary Agency

Maria Heater, Literary Assistant, Nelson Literary Agency

Megan Manzano, Literary Agent, D4EO Literary Agency

Naomi Davis, Literary Agent, BookEnds Literary Agency



  • How to know when a book is ready to query
  • Too much editing is required before an agent can send the book to an editor
  • Genre uniqueness
  • Character voice
  • Showing vs. telling
  • The first page isn’t strong enough
  • The story starts in the wrong place
  • Distant POV
  • The manuscript doesn’t fulfill the promise in the query letter
  • Subjectivity
  • Passion for a project
  • Plot arcs
  • Character arcs
  • A story that jumps around too much (chaotic timeline)
  • Poorly-executed prologues
  • Bad pacing
  • Info-dumps
  • Lack of editorial vision to make the story work
  • Plot holes
  • Offensive or unnecessary content
  • Lack of representation
  • Harmful stereotypes
  • World-building
  • Problematic content or representation
  • The writing isn’t ready (amateur writing)