As The Passive Voice points out, nothing can ruin one’s day faster than receiving the dreaded rejection letter. Nothing, that is, except for receiving the standard form rejection letter, a lifeless kick to the guts aimed en masse at a pool of unsuitables who are, it would seem, undeserving of a personal shove.
To find a standard form rejection letter worth mentioning, then, is quite a task, but not impossible: here is the finest of examples, written and sometimes sent by Brian Doyle, current editor of the University of Portland’s Portland Magazine.
I’m so sorry…
“Thank you for your lovely and thoughtful submission to the magazine, which we are afraid we are going to have to decline, for all sorts of reasons.
The weather is dreary, our backs hurt, we have seen too many cats today and – as you know – cats are why God invented handguns, there is a sweet incoherence and self-absorption in your piece that we find alluring but we have published far too many of same in recent years mostly authored by the undersigned, did we mention the moist melancholy of the weather, our marriages are unkempt and disgruntled, our children surly and crammed to the gills with a sense of entitlement that you wonder how they will ever make their way in the world, we spent far too much money recently on silly graphic design and now must slash the storytelling budget, our insurance bills have gone up precipitously, the women’s basketball team has no rebounders, an aunt of ours needs a seventh new hip, the shimmer of hope that was the national zeitgeist looks to be nursing a whopper of a black eye, and someone left the toilet roll thing empty again, without the slightest consideration for who pays for things like that.
And there were wet towels on the floor. And the parakeet has a goiter. And the dog barfed up crayons.
Please feel free to send us anything you think would fit these pages, and thank you for considering our magazine for your work. It’s an honor.
Poor Editors. With so much going wrong in Portland, one wonders how they ever find the time to publish a magazine. Many thanks to Letters of Note for the tip!
Wow, this is a real form rejection letter? At least you’d be laughing so hard that most (all?) of the sting of rejection would be taken away. What a sense of humor and thought for the authors submitting work. Way to go, Portland Magazine!
–Sam Taylor, AYAP Team
Yep, they really know how to blow people off over there 😀
This was a real winner, Nicholas. I think I’d be laughing so hard I’d forget to be upset about a rejection letter like thast. Just great, thanks. 😀 — Suzanne
So glad you enjoyed it! 😀
At least it would provide a laugh. Love it!!
Thanks! Still, I’d rather get an acceptance letter 😉
Great letter. The ones I receive are hardly that entertaining 🙂 I even got an instant robo-rejection once on an “out of office” email.
Ouch! If your books are rejected, what hope have we?
Oh, I have my big stack! But to be honest, it doesn’t bother me anymore. I still try with each book, but I love self-publishing 🙂
The empty toilet roll thingy could be applied to just about everything. I didn’t get dinner made because…. I didn’t read your manuscript because…. My son was late to school today because….
Lol – I’ll have to remember that one 😀
So many talented writer’s works seem to be rejected because of inopportune timing. 🙁
I was just reading a great post on the subject, on the Atlantic. As it said,
“I remain perplexed by a system that creates the conditions by which manuscripts that will go on to be lauded are first broadly rejected. While other sectors have certainly overlooked brilliant new ideas and missed opportunities for innovation, this fact isn’t usually romanticized or celebrated. In other sectors this level of oversight would be called “a system failure,” or “inefficiency,” or “failure to innovate.” And policies and practices would be put into place to try to prevent this from happening in the future.”
You can read the entire post on https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/11/why-the-literary-world-shouldnt-romanticize-rejection/414229/
Thanks so much Nicholas for this insight and the link. 🙂
I made a post on Facebook so I could post a response with Snoopy: https://www.facebook.com/john.herres.5?fref=nf
Ha – excellent 😀
Now I have to subscribe to this magazine! Thank you very much for sharing.
Lol – and the publishers’ cunning plan has worked 😀
My reply would be something like this: “Thank you for reading and responding to my manuscript. After reading your letter, I’m ashamed to have bothered you and do hope I haven’t added to your distress. Might I suggest that you shove your handgun in your mouth and go cosmic. Thus ending your pain. . . . And mine.”
Ha ha – very droll 😀
Agreed! My finger rapidly departed from the “Like” button when I saw the handgun comment. It certainly is different… but not in the best way, I’m afraid.
Attitudes like these — tongue-in-cheek or not — is why God invented self-publishing.
My rejections have mostly been related to publishers and agents not seeing a clearly identified market for my novels. In other words, cross-genre at your peril if you’re a novice author. All I can say is that yesterday’s cross-genre can easily become tomorrow’s new genre. Let’s see what I can do with marketing what was once rejected as “too original” by an agent and now fits neatly into the genre of urban fantasy. Watch this space. I’m about to turn Indie, as I can’t be bothered to attempt the traditional route again. Too late. Running out of life. It’s now or never.
Yay! Go for it, and let me know if I can somehow help 🙂
Thank you, Nicholas 🙂 I will let you know when it’s published. I’m aiming for the first week in December, but am ahead of schedule so I might make it by the end of this month.
Whoops – sorry for commenting twice (and now thrice)! Computer issues… 🙂
Tell me about it! I’ve just noticed that if I Like a comment, the whole WP crashes on me. Sigh…
Sigh indeed – I seem to be having a similar problem…
Rejection letters do suck, and I’ve certainly had my share! At lease this one would make me laugh through the pain (I think) 🙂
Rejection Letters do suck, for the most part, and I’ve certainly had my share! This one at least would make me laugh through the pain, and I’d probably even keep it 🙂
I know what you mean 🙂
Great letter. My best was a response simply saying, “you should keep writing, but not for us.”
Ha ha – brief and to the point (ouch!)
Hahahaha. If only they were that honest.
Honest? So you bought the auntie who needs 7 hip replacements it? 😀
Ha! Nope. But it’s better than some of the other excuses out there. Or worse, no response. I meant, I wish some agents would be honest about having a bad day, because that IS why some people get rejected.
If honesty was all it took, then 99% of the rejections would read, “I have a ton of better stuff to do than read your manuscript. My assistant may or may not have read a couple of lines before tossing your MS into the slush pile” 🙂
A letter like that would surely make your day.
Especially if it was directed to someone else 😉
I wish I HAD gotten a letter like that! With the comment about the cats, I would have take the letter to my local gun range and made IT a target. Thanks for a chuckle this morning!
Ha ha – now there is a thought 😀
I keep wondering what the aunt is doing with seven new hips. I guess she now has one for every day of the week. Then again, that only covers one hip, so maybe she’s working her way to 14.
Have to admit that rejection letters would be much more tolerable if they came like this. Definitely worth mentioning and keeping as a conversation piece.
It was a terrible accident poor auntie’s been in. Best if we don’t ask.
I’m sure she’d point out that it’d be spoilers and remind us that the TV movie is coming out in a few months. By the way, it doesn’t look like I can reply to comments here through my notifications. Might be delayed on responses.
I’ve been having the same problem! Didn’t realize it was a problem with others, too. Sigh… Off to notify WP – and thanks for letting me know.
Yeah. It’s like you’re part of WordPress, but not. Now I can’t even get the comments to show up when I see it in the notifications. I get the one before it as if the thing is a ghost and then I have to refresh the window because it just kind of stays on the phantom. Sorry. Hope it gets fixed.
Guess the plus side is that I know when the comments appear. A few people went to a WP/thingy where I don’t even get notified.
You never know… maybe she’s a multi-legged monster. These editors may be an alien species. 😀
Ha ha – as foretold by They Live 😀
Would that make shoe shopping easier or harder? On one hand, it’s more expensive. On the other, you can buy and wear both pairs of shoes that you have your eyes on.
And nifty colour combinations too!
If only every rejection in life was done with such intelligence and humour.
Best wishes, Pete.
That *would* be lovely, wouldn’t it? 🙂
I mean, that’s priceless! 🙂
Lol – it probably takes away at least some of the sting 🙂
I want one of those! Almost worth me hurrying up my book and sending it off / waiting patiently 🙂
Lol – absolutely! What’s the worst that can happen? 😀
Give me a strong cup of coffee and I will be back to normal in 5!
Normal is good. Or is it? I can never tell.
Say, did you comment on Sue Colletta’s blog that you’ll be turning to the dark side? I mean, crime? Erm, I mean, crime novels?
Lol! I am writing a thriller and it contains a nutter. So Sue’s post on serial killers met all my research needs. Sigh!
But… but… Roxy!
I can multi task! Lol! Not sure what to do with Roxy so for now will keep her going. Prepare for tears tomorrow!
I feel like crashing on my knees, screaming, fists in the air, “Stellaaaaa!!!” – sorry, “Roxyyyyy!!!”
Or, perhaps, “wobbly biiiiits!!!”
Do you need a strong coffee too?
Lol- or a stiff drink 😀
It’s almost enough to get me to write something I can send to Portland Magazine so I can get my own personal copy…but not quite.
Lol – you should. Worst case scenario, you can show your friends your own rejection form 😀