Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thank You for Submitting but ... REJECTED!

I have never met a writer who hasn't been rejected. It's the one trait all authors have in common. I keep a printed copy of all of my rejections for tax purposes (physical proof that I'm making an honest attempt to sell the stories I write). As I recently sorted through my 2012 rejections, I began to notice a few things, some of which irk me and others that baffle me.

·     Why do most rejections begin "Thank you for submitting "STORY TITLE" but …"? I suppose editors feel that 'thank you' softens the blow of the rejection. Personally, I consider that whole string to be wasted words. Get to the point. You didn't buy the story. My favorite rejection (boy, that's an oxymoron if I'd ever heard one - a 'favorite' rejection) had this in the subject line of the response email:

Rejection: STORY TITLE 

That's clean and simple and saved me a lot of time weeding through needless words. I respect that publication, because they respected my time. 
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When I first started
submitting, I felt like
this guy for days
after every rejection.

·     Snarky rejections. Why do some editors/pre-readers/publications feel the need to be hateful? One advised me I was now "free to submit elsewhere". Was my story being held hostage? I'm sure it's that whole simultaneous submission thing that, personally, is antiquated. Given the statistical odds of acceptance versus rejection, it makes no sense to submit to one publication, and wait two or three months for them to send a response before submitting to a different publication. Like most of my writing buddies, I have the same story in the pipeline with several publications at once.

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Now, my armor is thick.
I shrug off the
rejection and move on.
·     Unclear if the story has been rejected or not. One publication's website said "we're open to submissions", but promptly sent an email response "Our winter issue is full, but we'll open for summer soon". What does that mean? Are they holding my story to consider for the summer issue, or do I need to resubmit? And goodness forbid that I respond to their email and ask for clarification. Doing so is so taboo, I just marked it as denied and moved on. 
I'm sure being an editor/pre-reader is a difficult job. That's one of the reasons I've resisted when friends have suggested starting our own publication (the other being how the heck do you make money?). However, it stands to reason these editors are writers too. I wish they would give more thought to their rejection letters. Make it quick and simple. If I were an editor, here's how I'd do it:

Sorry, this isn't for us. Good luck elsewhere.

It's simple, gets straight to the point, and the sting is minute. Maybe I'm alone in not wanting all the fluffy 'thank yous' and other psychobabble nonsense I've seen in some rejections, but I doubt it. Like editors, writers are busy people too.

How about you? Do you think I'm way off base, or do you agree?


  1. I think they try to be nice to us for our own sakes. Being that short (and count me in as one who appreciates brevity) might really devestate some writers. Maybe acceptance letters should read: "YOU'RE IN!!!!"

    1. "You're in!!!" I like it. I hope it catches on.