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:
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.
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,
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.