Thursday, August 27, 2015

Interpreting Your Rejection Letters

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
Have you ever received a rejection letter?  Perhaps for a job or a loan application?  Well, if you plan on getting into the publishing business, expect to start getting hundreds, if not thousands, of rejection notices.
Up until recently, it was impossible to glean anything from a form rejection letter.  Luckily, though, in early August Across the Board's very own intrepid archaeo-venturer Steve stumbled across a strange obelisk while digging in the deserts of eastern Morrocco - a sort of a Rejectta Stone, if you will*.
Now, for the first time ever, Across the Board is proud to present the key to interpreting your rejection letters!  Read on...if you think you can handle the truth.
17.)  "Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your work."
"Revise and resubmit. But call it something different.  Never speak of this coded message again."
16.)  "Due to the overwhelming number of submissions we receive it is impossible for us to answer every query individually."
"We have decided not to hire enough staff."
15.)  "After careful consideration..." 
"No one read this. No one read this at all.  Not an agent.  Not an intern.  Not even Jim the doorman.  This languished, unread, until we decided to send you a form response, sight unseen."
14.)  "We have decided your work is not right for our list."
"There is no list. This is a complete smokescreen to cover my personal distaste for you.
13.)  "I am going to have to pass on the opportunity to represent this."
"Consider finding me in a bathroom later and re-pitching your idea over the stall."
12.)  "I am currently taking on new clients quite selectively."
"I'm not doing that at all.   Shit, I signed three debut authors yesterday.  Your work just sucks."
11.)  "I don't feel enthusiastic about your work."
"The truth is you haven't shown the proper enthusiasm for working with me. Did you call me? Show up at my office? What about at my house with a boombox playing Peter Gabriel? See, how I am I supposed to be enthusiastic if you're not at least that committed?"
10.)  "I don't feel I'm the right agent for your project."
"I am actually not the agent at all.  I am an unpaid intern who has to read 'Star Trek'/TWILIGHT mashup manuscripts in the slush all day.  Your work did not rise above that."
9.)  "Another agency may feel differently."
"And a giraffe might get elected president."
8.)  "Please remember this is only one opinion."
"You may cease querying now. I have already discussed your manuscript, laughing, over cappuccino with all of my agent friends. We are all of one mind about its lack of quality."
7.)  "I wish you the best of luck in finding the right agent."
"Please don't bother me again with your garbage."
6.)  "Thank you for your patience in awaiting my response."
"I forgot about your query and recently re-discovered it while shifting around some things."
5.)  "I wasn't as taken with your manuscript as I could have been."
"Submit again in three months with minor changes and include the line 'Are you taken now, motherfucker?' in your query letter. If that doesn't work, submit again three months later. And again and again and again until I accept it. This business is all about persistence."
4.)  "I didn't fall in love with your manuscript."
"Consider having the manuscript wine and dine me a little. Next time, include flowers and chocolates with the manuscript.  Maybe send a box of condoms with the manuscript.  I'm not promising anything, but it's better to be prepared, you know?"
3.)  "This business is very subjective."
"This letter was about a paragraph too short so I decided to start wasting your time with bland generalities."
2.)  "Your writing is strong."
"I actually read it and your writing is strong."
1.)  "I had trouble fully believing your world."
"Consider a wacky '60s sitcom style hijink wherein you kidnap me and bring me into 'your world' (read: your basement) and try to convince me how 'real' it is."
*The veracity of this story is severely in doubt.


Mary Fan said...

Thank you for posting this blog entry. However, despite the post's strengths, I just didn't fall in love with it. Your writing is strong, but I just didn't fall in love with it. Please remember that this is only one opinion. Another reader may feel differently. This is a very subjective business. I wish you the best of luck in finding the right reader.

Brenda St John Brown said...

"You deserve an agent who is fully committed to your writing." -- Because let me tell you right now, I'm going to a half-ass job. If that. Heavy sigh...

Carrie Beckort said...

I haven't received a rejection letter an agent (since I haven't queried any) but I have received them from employers. And as someone who used to manage my company's college recruiting organization, I have written several of them. I think we could save everyone a lot of trouble if we reduced all rejection letters to, "Thanks, but no." That's all that really matters in the end anyway :-)

SyllieBee said...

"Perhaps with a few edits..."
Like if the main character weren't yet another whiny ass teenager who has some random mantle of power thrown at them and magically becomes a warrior vampire benevolent dictator. Why not try a story about a pony? I like ponies!

Unknown said...

9.) "Another agency may feel differently."

"And a giraffe might get elected president."

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Ow. My feelings...

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

He he. Good one!

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Yeah. Not to overanalyze the joke, but the whole point of a form rejection is that it's just basically "thanks, but no." And then over the years they developed into these sprawling things because agents have to address every one of an author's paranoid concerns. I can't honestly say which way is better. Question time now: did you get any real dogs from the colleges that you wanted to send a little more than a form rejection?

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Ah, SyllieBee! So my favorite reviewer has come to harass me here as well. Look, I thought that story about the whiny ass teenage warrior vampire benevolent dictator was gold.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Well, hey there, stranger! Glad I can still make you laugh. :D

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I knew it! This was my exact interpretation of all my rejections. Fantastic stuff.

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