Dissecting a Rejection

September 10, 2010 · 4 comments

First of all, thank you endlessly for sharing your knowledge with those us who are just starting out and would not have a snowballs chance in you-know-where of succeeding without a little help. [You’re welcome.]

My question involves dissecting a rejection. Are rejection letters by the publisher typically done personally or is there a company form letter specially written to sound soothing and kind to the poor sad sap at the other end of the .com? I want to believe they were really talking to me when they said “It is evident that you have invested a great deal of time and effort developing your story,” and “We hope you will consider us again for your future projects,” but my inner schizophrenic is laughing at me and calling me naive.

My initial query and first 3 chapters were submitted by email as requested on the submissions form so I received an email response, as was expected, in case that helps answer the question. Thank you for your time!

Most companies use form rejections. It’s easier for everyone involved. They may have a couple of variations to the basic rejection that they use depending on the reasons the manuscript was rejected, but pretty much, unless their comments reference specific and unique portions of your manuscript, assume it’s a form letter and MOVE ON.

If there are specific and unique comments (such as, “I loved your main character, Jane Doe, but I really think she’d be more likeable if she wasn’t covered in warts…”), then pay attention to those suggestions and consider making changes to your manuscript. However, if an editor has taken the time to add specific and unique comments, they’ve probably also requested that you resubmit after making changes.

If there are no specific and unique comments and no request to resubmit the same manuscript to them after re-writes, then assume the rejection is a form letter and MOVE ON.

Comments on this entry are closed.


Anna Buttimore September 10, 2010 at 6:12 am

Good advice. I've had both types. My first submission was rejected but the letter suggested subjects that I might consider writing about instead, and said that the editor liked my style. So I followed her advice, and hey presto, my next effort was accepted. I have had form rejection letters since. I read them once, file them, and move on.

Michael Knudsen September 10, 2010 at 7:58 am

I hate to be the one to break the news to the person who submitted this query, but the exact phrase "It is evident that you have invested a great deal of time and effort developing your story," appeared in a rejection I received about five months ago. Form letter, with the intent to sound encouraging.

David J. West September 10, 2010 at 9:42 am

LOL, I got the same phrase about 17 months ago.

Angie September 10, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Yeah, most are just form letters. I'm always so appreciative of the personalized ones.

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