7 Common Mistakes Writers Make that get Submissions Rejected‏

In Tips & Tricks by Jennifer Oradat | | 17 Comments

7 Common Mistakes Writers Make that get Submissions Rejected - Beyond Your Blog Guest Post By Jennifer Oradat

Rejection happens to us all, unfortunately, and it happens a lot if you’re a writer.

You pour your blood, sweat, and tears into writing something that makes you proud. Your heart pounds in your chest as you hit “submit”. You spend the next two weeks checking your email obsessively, hating yourself for every single newsletter you signed up for to get the extra 20% off of your first purchase, because now they send you 10 emails every day and you always think it’s going to be a response from the website but IT’S NEVER THEM.

Until, magically, one day it is. Only things don’t turn out the way you’d hoped and rejection rears its ugly head. You don’t understand it. You know your story is compelling, so what went wrong?

7 Common Mistakes Writers Make that get Submissions Rejected - Beyond Your Blog Guest Post By Jennifer Oradat

Of course, editors have to turn down quality submissions for plenty of reasons, but there are a few common mistakes that writers make that get their submissions sent straight to the discard pile.

Common mistakes writers make that send submissions straight to the discard pile Click To Tweet

1.  You didn’t research the site before you submitted.

This one is a biggie, and it’s something that we’re all guilty of doing. Before you submit, check out their page. Read their publications. Look for submissions criteria. Do they have a length suggestion? A swearing policy? Do they offer general guidelines as to the type of posts the want, or those they will automatically decline? What types of pieces do they post on a regular basis, and where does yours fit in that scheme? Knowing the answers to all of these before you submit could save you some heartache, and quite a bit of waiting.

2. You don’t have a point.

Does your piece have a purpose, or did you just want to share something funny/sad/sweet that happened? There is a huge difference in being a personal blogger whose main objective is to connect with family and friends, and being a writer who wants to reach a larger audience. Consider the purpose and intent of your writing before submitting. Why did you write this? If an editor doesn’t feel like your piece has a point, he’s not likely to accept it.

3.  You need more structure.

Even the sweetest of stories can benefit from an outline. Connect your various trains of thought with reasonable segues to make your work seem well-planned. You’ll also want to make sure that every sentence (and paragraph!) contributes to the overall purpose of your piece, and is placed logically within the outline.

4.  You have comma splices, too many exclamation points, or other punctuation foibles.

Comma splices, can make a sentence, feel like you’re, in the car, with a teen who’s learning to drive, getting thrown, around every time, he confuses the brake, and the accelerator. Exclamation points after too many sentences make it feel it feel like you’re reading the transcript of a cheerleading practice!!! Because proofreading multiple submissions is time-consuming and expensive, a submission with glaring grammatical errors (like those) risks being rejected outright, despite the quality of the content.

5.  You use a lot of adverbs.

The hallmark of an amateur writer is one who uses copious adverbs; the hallmark of a seasoned writer is one who uses a thesaurus.

Want to know the REAL reasons editors tell you your writing isn't a good fit? Click To Tweet

6. You repeat yourself.

It is the goal of every writer to ensure that the reader understands, and the temptation is to repeat yourself as often as necessary to make that happen. When an editor reads several sentences in a row that re-state the same information, her eyes will glaze over and your submission gets sent to the rejection pile. Here’s the general rule: if you need to say it again, you didn’t say it efficiently the first time.

7.  You don’t have a solid conclusion.

The conclusion of your piece can serve a lot of purposes: connecting all the dots, resolving conflicts, reinforcing your argument. Without it, the reader is left feeling unsatisfied and adrift. Don’t forget: this isn’t network television. No one likes a cliffhanger.

RELATED: 8 Things To Do With Your Submission If It Gets Turned Down

If your work is declined on a regular basis but you can’t seem to figure out why, chances are good that you’re a habitual offender of one of the items on this list. Keep all of this in mind and put a critical eye to your next submission—before you send it out—and increase your odds of receiving an acceptance!


About the Author

Jennifer Oradat

Jennifer Oradat is a writer, editor, and generally optimistic person. She writes about parenting her two kids and being a military wife, and throws in some wicked funny satire on her website jenniferoradat.com.

17 Comments on “7 Common Mistakes Writers Make that get Submissions Rejected‏”

  1. Jennifer, I LOVE this!! My favorite: “The hallmark of an amateur writer is one who uses copious adverbs; the hallmark of a seasoned writer is one who uses a thesaurus.” There needs to be a “love” button, a “click to tweet” or something with that. 🙂

  2. Have to admit even though I have a list as long as my arm of websites I want to submit I just haven’t plucked up the courage yet.

    Loving your BYB posts. What a great idea this site is!

      1. Thank you! (Of course I noticed that my earlier sentence had a grammatical mistake in it so that would be mistake number 8 then…)

        And yes there are certain smaller sites that seem more approachable if I’m honest.

        Thanks again.

  3. I love this, Jennifer! I am a “storyteller” and tend to ramble on and on. I, of course, think it is a fabulous story but usually if I step away from what I think is a submittable piece and return 24-48 hours later, 9 times out of 10 I sat to myself – OMG! Thank all that is the incredible body of Jax Teller I didn’t submit this! Then, I cut hundreds of words out and start the process again.

    I was lucky in that my first piece I submitted ever was to Magnolia and she took me under her wing because she said she knew there was a great story in there “somewhere”. LOL

    I am keeping this for future reference and thank you so much for writing it.

    PS I love the word ‘foible’ – you just never hear it and it makes me giggle.

    See? Ican’t even leave a short comment! Sigh.

  4. But, but, but….. exclamation points!!! tee hee!

    This is fantastic, thank-you! I’m still sometimes guilty of number one (even though I absolutely know better and it’s totally unfair to the editors) and my finger bounces on the exclamation point almost as much as my hands pour more coffee. I’ve learned to give myself exclamation point permission while writing with the caveat that I’ll weed them out during the editing process. I do, however, leave many of them in my own writing space. My visitors know and come prepared! Giggle!

    Hmmmm….it only now occurred to me, re-reading my comment, that perhaps my love affair with exclamation points is a direct result of my relationship with coffee. Interesting. I’ll sip coffee and think about it!

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