October 6th, 2009

Rejection letters: Formal or frivolous, how do you like yours?

The other day, a friend of mine from the GSHW copied me this rejection email she’d received:

Thank you for submitting to [publication’s name].

 

Alas . . .

 

Regarding [story title]

 

In slush, where all hopes are sown,

one phrase can make us all groan—

the frustrating plight

of "not enough right"

compels us to send this work home.

 

Best wishes.

 

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I’m told my story’s been rejected, I sure as heck don’t want to hear about it in a limerick. 

 

Not that this slush reader is the only one who thinks people need a little more than a straight ‘No thanks, not for us’ notice. I once got this rejection:


By the time you read this, your manuscript will have already been rejected. 

There's no sense in asking me why or what you could have done differently, because I've already moved on to other stories. 


It wasn't you.  It was me.  I -- Awww, who'm I kidding… it was partly you.  You didn't make me feel like you were really interested in making this relationship work.  I didn't feel any sparks between us.  You didn't make me laugh. 


This story wasn't a match made in heaven, but the next one may be.  Submit again.  If you don't, you'll regret it.  Maybe not today.  Maybe not tomorrow.  But soon.  And for the rest of your life.


Of course, I’m sure these people had the writer’s best interests at heart. They were probably trying to take the sting out of their rejection notice, and reading that second one again after more than a year, it doesn’t seem anywhere near as condescending as it did when I received it. 

 

However, when you’re telling a complete stranger that you don’t want to publish their story, I think it’s probably better to keep it short, bitter-sweet, and above all formal. 


How about you?

 

Would either of these have bothered you?

 

What’s the weirdest rejection notice you ever received?