Awesome Rejections

One of the most important skills to being a writer is the ability to deal with rejection. Understanding that  an editor choosing to pass on your work is not personal, and that you will receive a lot more rejection slips than acceptance letters.

Every publication deals with rejections differently. The most common are form rejections. You get a very generalized note that looks something like this:

Dear Author,

Thank you for sending us “Story Title Here.” Unfortunately have have decided not to publish it. Please feel free to submit more of your work to us in the future.

The Editors.

Or some variation of above. It’s short, impersonal and to the point–but it gets the job done.  Some markets will offer small bits of personalized feedback in order to offer encouragement or–better yet–let the writer know about some specific flaw in their story that contributed to its rejection.

But who says rejections have to be boring? There’s a way to inject humor, originality and outright strangeness into the mix!

Consider the famous Rolling Stones rejection sent by Hunter S. Thompson in 1971 (warning: do not click on this link if you’re easily offended by profanity). Had I been on the receiving end of this I would be framing that thing up on my wall. I should probably do that anyway, and look at it any time I get a rejection of my own. I think it’d make me feel better.

Then there’s this poetic rejection, riffing off W.C. Williams:

This is just to say we have taken some plums

we found in our mailbox.

You were hoping it would be

yours. Forgive us,

others seemed

sweeter

or colder

more bold

or whatever.

Again, this is a “make your day a little brighter” kind of bit, at least when you’re seeing it for the first time.

But my favorite form rejection (and the one that prompted me to write this blog post) is one not being used by any magazine or anthology. It is a hypothetical rejection letter written by a friend and fellow New York SF writer Anatoly Belilovsky.  If I’m ever in position of some editorial authority, I hope to make use of the following, at least once:

Your stories soar like birds,

I wish I could acquire ’em,

but I seek only words

fit for an aquarium.

 

 

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4 Responses to Awesome Rejections

  1. I *WISH* I’d have some cool rejection letters. Most are form letters. But I did truly enjoy reading this post! Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. A rejection which must not be neglected, if only for its sheer boneheadedness, is this:

    http://www.ursulakleguin.com/Reject.html

    • Alex Shvartsman says:

      To be honest I’m not sure how strongly I might disagree with the anonymous editor’s assessment. I couldn’t finish that book.

      I realize it’s a classic and all, but there’s no accounting for taste 🙂

  3. Jillian says:

    I hadn’t seen any of these creative rejections before. Thanks for a laugh that I’ll definitely keep in mind the next time I receive a form letter.

    And congrats on meeting your W1S1 goals!

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