Characters are not compelling
I have to be on board with the main character. I have to feel like I understand them and are strongly invested in their journey. If I am feeling lukewarm for the main character I am not going to continue on.
I have no idea where the story is going
I don’t need a predictable manuscript, but I need to read a plot that has a purpose and a direction. Set up the journey for the reader early on, let us know what we can get excited about in the coming pages.
It’s starting in the wrong spot
I don’t have time to read past the first 100 pages to find the ‘true beginning’ of your book. If you don’t know how/where to start your novel then I can’t go finding it for you. Not only does it make me stop reading, it tells me that there is some serious editing to do that I might not have time for.
It isn’t what I thought it would be
Sometimes I get really excited about a query only to realize the novel that I’m reading isn’t anything like the query said it would be. Writing an accurate query letter to reflect your novel, its strengths and its themes, is the most important task for querying writers.
The voice isn’t speaking to me
I’ll know I’m the agent for the project if I don’t grasp the voice. I have to like a writer’s voice in order to work with them on this project and many more. Liking their voice will get us through the times where maybe the project isn’t selling, but we’re enthusiastic about their next one.