Write It Sideways

What Does That Writing Rejection Letter Really Mean?

Nobody likes to be rejected.

Anything that makes you want to consume and entire bucket of ice cream in one sitting must have serious psychological implications.

While it’s tempting to give up on a piece of writing after a rejection or two, that isn’t always the best course of action. Many writers automatically think the worst when they receive a rejection.

Types of Rejection

  1. No Reponse: This is difficult, because a lack of response leaves you wondering if your submission actually arrived. Chances are, it did. Chances are they’re not interested. Send your work elsewhere.
  2. The Form Rejection I: Begins with “Dear Reader,” or similar, and doesn’t contain the name of your submission. It cites general reasons for rejecting your work, like “doesn’t fit our current list,” or “not quite what we’re looking for,” and will wish you well with other publishers.
  3. The Form Rejection II: Exactly the same as Form Rejection I, but your name and the title of your submission have been slotted in. This is in no way better than the former type of rejection.
  4. The Scribbled Note: A handwritten rejection which can vary anywhere from “all the best elsewhere,” to “hoping to see more of your work,” to “hoping you disappear into a hole somewhere and never return.”
  5. The In-Depth Personal Rejection: This is the best type of rejection to get. It shows effort on the part of the submissions editor, and will generally give more specific reasons as to why your work isn’t being accepted. It also might offer suggestions or ask for more (different) writing to be submitted.

The vast majority of rejections you receive will be form letters. If you do receive an in-depth personal letter, you can be happy knowing you’re on the right track.

What Rejection Doesn’t Necessarily Say

Sure, you might feel terrible that your life’s work has been so casually dismissed by a form rejection, but that isn’t a death sentence.

Rejection doesn’t necessarily say:

That said, it’s quite possible your rejection–whether form or personalized– could mean the following.

What Rejection Might Mean:

When you face rejection, take heart: there’s still hope for you and your manuscript.

Do consider the reasons for the rejection, and do make a plan of action as to what you can do to improve your chances of acceptance.

Most of all, if you receive personal feedback from agents or editors, be sure to consider their advice.

What experiences have you had with rejection, and how have you turned it into a learning experience?