Why Agents Say No: The 20 Manuscript Mistakes That Keep You from Getting Published

Why Agents Say No: The 20 Manuscript Mistakes That Keep You from Getting Published

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  • You're a writer who has reached a road block with your novel
  • You're a writer who is unsure if you're ready to submit your novel to agents and editors
  • You're a writer who wants to become an expert self-editor
  • You're a writer who doesn't want to blow your sometimes only chance at publication
  • You're a writer looking for tips on improving your first or final draft manuscript


You are probably making a lot of mistakes in your novel. Right now. But that's ok, because many other writers are doing that, too, especially in their first drafts. But how do you know what mistakes you're making, and how do you fix them before you show it to an editor or agent? How do you prevent your manuscript from being rejected because of common writer's pitfalls that can be easily fixed? This presentation shows you the 20 most common mistakes novelists of any and every genre make, whether it's your first or 21 novel.

Is your main character sympathetic? Are you sure? Do you know if you're using too much detail? Too little? Do you know which darlings to kill? In this presentation, you'll learn how to assess your manuscript like an agent or editor and recognize the most common mistakes that get between a writer and publication. If you think you're not guilty of even a few of these things, think again. Are you sure?

Kate McKean has been a literary agent with the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency for over 7 years and worked with all kinds of authors-from traditional novelists to tech-savvy bloggers-and works closely with her clients on their novels and proposals. She has a Master's in Fiction writing from the University of Southern Mississippi.


  • Tips on how to look at your manuscript objectively
  • How to spot lags in plot and pacing
  • When to kill a darling and when to let it live
  • To identify problems in POV, voice, and perspective
  • Whether your novel is too short, or too long
  • How to tell if you're on, off, or ahead of trends
  • What agents really think when they see these common mistakes
  • How to tell if this is what's standing between you and publication


Kate McKean is a literary agent at the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency in Brooklyn, NY, where she has worked for over seven years. She earned her Master's in Fiction Writing at the University of Southern Mississippi, and enjoys both the creative and business aspects of her job. Her clients include Madeleine Roux's New York Times bestselling YA novel ASYLUM, and New York Times bestselling humor book I Can Has Cheezburger. She is most interested in contemporary women's fiction, middle grade and young adult fiction.

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