1. The manuscript goes to the wrong publisher. Smart writers don’t make that mistake. They know who handles which type of material. That also applies to sending manuscripts to agents for representation. Go to their Web sites and see whom they represent. Look at their guidelines and they'll state what they don't want. Trust them that they know what they want to represent and will reject what they don't handle.
2. It’s the wrong topic. Presbyterians Today doesn’t want personal-experience-testimonial articles. Sending them one is an excellent way to increase your number of rejections. Why would you send an article on divorce to Marriage Partnership? Some agents handle only fiction; others only nonfiction. One publisher loves speculative fiction and the other wants romance. Wise writers find out those things before they send off a manuscript.
3. It’s the wrong slant (or treatment). Focus on the Family might like an article on abortion—but not if you try to present a pro-abortion stance.
4. The manuscript doesn’t look professional. When editors get manuscripts that are single-spaced, filled with spelling errors, or written in 10-point Algerian or 14-point italics, they know they’re dealing with an amateur. The thinking is that if those individuals can’t present a professional looking manuscript, how could they write good material?
Professionals don't say to editors, "I know you don't publish this kind of material, but. . . ." Professionals know (or learn) where to send their material.