Ask an Editor: How to Avoid the Dreaded "No"

Today we post the fifth installment in our Ask an Algonquin Editor series. Executive Editor Chuck Adams shares what aspiring authors should NOT do. These tips will help you avoid getting a quick rejection for your manuscript.

Do you have a question for one of our Algonquin editors? Have you ever wished for an insight into the publishing world? Leave your question in the comments below…



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16 comments on “Ask an Editor: How to Avoid the Dreaded "No"

  1. I’ve enjoyed your insights. Thank you for sharing them honestly. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the useful information! I’m enjoying the blog and the interview format.

  3. Right down the line! Good stuff. Thank you Chuck!

  4. Dear Chuck,

    I very much enjoyed your ‘Ask an Editor’ piece. It was extremely interesting and informative.

    In your vast experience, I am sure you have come across writers that use oxymorons too. Just last week I read the first page of an e-book and went no further as it described “whispering howling”. I very much look forward to your future pieces.
    Warm Regards,

  5. I appreciate the clarity of your presentation, like what you are asking of those who submit manuscripts. I picked up a few things that go against what others have said in critique groups, so now I have a response to their ideas. Thank you.

  6. I find myself a bit at a loss. I am re-reading the classic “Les Miserables”. It is one of my favorites and I know I am not alone there. So here is my problem. As I listen to this video about what not to do as an author, I can see plainly that Victor Hugo would have gotten an immediate rejection from today’s editors. He does almost everything that you advise not to do; endless description, not getting to the plot for eons,moralizing,background on top of more background, etc. It seems like literature is going the way of TV and film. It is all about flash and bang! Where is the line between writing a great piece of literature and writing a piece that is catchy enough to snag an editor’s interest in the first three pages. It is very tricky as you well know. Anyone have any feelings on this?

  7. And another thing, I find the bias against typos quite silly, really. Not everyone has a secretary. Typos have nothing to do with a writer’s literary ability. Now that was a mistake.

  8. This criteria would of course, immediately rule out Updike and Nabokov, though keep Cheever.

  9. Thank you and Kathy for these videos! I have a high regard for Algonqin Books and the candid thoughts shared in these videos is part of the reason why. Not only because you’re taking the time create the videos, but because so many of your perceptions are mine as well. I imagine an editors choices in projects they take on are as personal as agents are. Yes?

  10. Just listened to Chuck Adams on rejection. This really sounds like great points. Where can I find previous videos of “Ask an Algonquin Editor.” How often does a new one appear?

  11. These are all the things i’ve learned from being a student at ICL. I’m happy to know my manuscript has none of these these that you spoke about and i will be submitting it soon. Thanks.

  12. I am a young Nigerian writer and I have a fiction adult book. Please how can I submit you some chapters to take a look at first?

  13. Chuck Adams gave some very sage advice, but did I hear him correctly that Algonquin does not publish mysteries?

  14. How much does lack of previous publishing experience count when the writing and plot are good? In dealing with agents more than editors, how can they reject you with so little information? (a short synopsis and a few pages of your writing) You say Algonquin publishes literary fiction–how do you define it? If your novel really doesn’t fit any particular genre (like Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander) what is the best way to catorgorize it?

  15. Hello–

    Since I am severely hearing impaired, even with hearing aids, I cannot hear the editor’s video.

    Is there any way Algonquin Books could place captions on its videos so that the hard of hearing can understand them?

    Thank you.

    Lee Titus Elliott

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