Monday 27 January 2014

The Lovely Rejection Letter

You never hear people say, "I got fired, but it was a really enjoyable firing," or, "I didn't get the job, but they let me down so beautifully," or "he punched me in the face but it was alright because it was a rather nice punch." 

In the writing world however, there is such a thing as the 'lovely rejection letter'. Out of the rejection letter options they really are the bee's knees. If you've never got one before, you've missed out. They really are a giggle. 

Dear Writer (insert name) 
I really enjoyed your book. 

 Oh my god... 

I loved your voice... 

I can't believe I finally found it! 

The characters are so well drawn. 

 Show not tell, they said, show not tell! 

The story really grabbed me. 

Oh my god! My smile is so big it's actually hurting! 

I think it will do really well. 

This is it! I can't believe it! I'm going to get published! All those early mornings, all those late nights, all those sacrifices I made have finally paid off!  


Wait. What? 

We feel the book isn't for us. 

But... but you just wrote you liked everything about it.... I don't understand. 

Don't worry, once you've stopped bawling your eyes out, I'm sure you'll find the classic lovely rejection letter rather entertaining. 

Or maybe you won't. Everyone deals with rejection letters differently. Some writers like to keep them so that one day, when they sign their million pound book deal they can look back and laugh. 

As for me I haven't decided whether they are worth keeping or not. I don't think standard rejections letters are. You know the ones where they write your name in biro to make it look more personal. I once burnt one of those in the sink. What can I say? It was at least two years ago. I was young! 

What about you? Do you keep them or do you fold them into paper aeroplanes and launch them out of your window?


Helen Barbour said...

Oh, how I can relate to this. The last agent to read my whole MS included compliments, such as 'really compelling subject', 'subject is spot-on', 'you write fluently', 'a good ear for dialogue' etc etc...then said some scenes were unessential and 'included some repetition.' Er, OK, tell me what they are and I can fix them...honestly, I can...please, tell me...please, please, please...

Mind you, the last, less lovely, one that I got, from a publisher included the line 'At the risk of telling you what you know already, may I respectfully suggest the following...' and then went on to outline how to make a submission, which mirrored what I had done in submitting to them. For goodness' sake, if you are going to use standard rejection letters, at least have two: one for those of us who sent you a professional package and one for the numpties who sent you a MS written in goat's blood.

Emily Benet said...

How frustrating! You can change so much in a good edit as well. I hope you get your acceptance letter too - if you're still submitting!

Robin Houghton said...

Oh dear! Poetry rejections are usually (in my experience) briefer. A compliment slip with a printed 'thank you for sending, unfortunately we are unable to publish at this time'. Though sometimes a handwritten 'much that I liked in them' or words to that effect. I'd rather get a brief 'no thanks' than the hand-wringing, patronising variety ( 'we get 5,000,000 submissions a day and much as we'd like to be nice to everyone unfortunately we can't.') Actually the worst thing is not even a personal reply, but an email to the entire mailing list (to which you've just been appended) saying 'Yay! Our next issue is in the bag! We've notified all the successful poets, so if you haven't heard from us then better luck next time!'