If you’ve ever received a rejection letter, you know that sometimes the comments you get back almost make you glad an editor or agent didn’t accept your work. I was looking back over some recent rejections, and I couldn’t help but wonder how I could interpret them to improve my writing for a future submission. In the end, I decided I couldn’t. But at least their responses told me where NOT to send my next manuscript in the eternal quest for publication.
Here are a few examples so you can see what I mean:
“Thanks so much for your suggested article. We will consider this as we plan our editorial calendar for future issues.” So, does that mean they might contact me someday? Should I wait around until they decide? Will they ever let me know? My questions are nearly the same for the rejection I got that said: “I’ll keep your name in my file.” Is that a good or bad thing? Should I worry or just wait for them to swoop across the internet lines, asking me to write a multi-million dollar project?
How about this one: “Thanks very much for your query. We appreciate your thinking of (small press publisher), but unfortunately, we have too little time and too little reader-power to give your project the attention and time it deserves. So until we have 26- or 28-hour days and many, many more readers, we must regretfully decline your query.” Huh? Are they saying I’m too good or that my project is too big for their house? Were they trying to be funny?
After nearly I year, I got this from a big name publisher: “While I enjoyed reading your manuscript, I am sorry to say that this particular project is not right for our list.” So glad they enjoyed it, but a year? Come on. Even I can do better than that with the 185 essays and short stories I get each week from my students.
When it comes to rejection letters like these and the houses they come from, I often find myself using the same phrase my husband hears at work on the film sets—Moving On!