When you review your manuscript and what your peers have said about it, start by evaluating the importance of your study findings. Doing so will help guide you toward the best choice of journal.
The perceived importance of your study will be related to the target journal readership. For example, will your manuscript be of interest to a wide range of fields, and therefore a broad readership? Or will it appeal only to a select group of specialists, thus warranting a journal with a narrower readership? Just because your work may not have the broad appeal of Nature does not mean that it is not valuable to your own field.
It is crucial that you are honest in your evaluation and do not overestimate the importance of your findings. Doing so will lead to a poor choice of journal. You will have a much higher chance of immediate rejection.
Another question to ask yourself is whether your work deals with a topic of special interest or popular appeal. Such ‘hot topics’ include stem cells, the Higgs boson, ZIka virus infection, or climate change. Journal editors are keen to publish these types of studies. Such articles may be widely read and cited frequently.
Your study does not have to be related to a hot topic for journal editors to be interested in your work. Journal editors are also interested in findings with real-world implications.
For example, perhaps you have genetically engineered prawns (shrimp) to be resistant to a particular virus that affects prawn farming in your country. In this case, your work might not just have an impact on your field. It might also the food production and economy of your country.
Another example could involve the development of new lighting materials. Perhaps you have developed a new, more efficient diode that has a less negative impact on the environment. Such a study would be very attractive to journal editors.