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Rejection letters/emails

edited July 2014 in Writing
HI I thought it might be fun to share some of the worst/funniest/saddest rejections we've all received over the months/years/decades...mainly coz it's too hot to write today.

I've just been sorting through and cleaning up my files from my last book which thankfully did get published - I noticed that the nicest rejections (is there such a thing?) came from publishers and the rude/short/weird ones from agents:

3 examples - bearing in mind I followed their submission procedures perfectly, submitting synopsis/sample chapters/covering letter/email - In return this was ALL they said in emails back to me, no acknowlegement, no dear etc etc - nothing just what I've typed below:-

1. Nearly but no banana

Which was quite nice but made me want to change my name to bubbles.

2. Nope

Which wasn't nice at all.

3. Oh dear.

The last one was probably the worst and almost made me want to give up. Something that I'd spent SO long working on could illicit such a reaction from anyone, let alone a literary agent was really disheartening. That's when you need a really thick skin!


  • I got one for a short story which was written as though it was a 'Dear John' with stuff like 'it's not you it's us - we don't want your story'. Guessing it was supposed to be funny, but it really wasn't.

    Other than that they've all been fairly polite. Some are form letters addressed to 'dear writer' or whatever, but that's understandable with markets which get hundreds of subs a week.

    Your No 3 is just horrible.
  • datco, looking on the bright side, at least you can say that you got personal replies rather than the standardised anonymous bumph.
  • I got one that said 'we didn't see the point of it' and another that described the MC as 'a bit weird'.
  • edited July 2014
    not one for us too much information.
  • Wow, that third was horrid! I think I've been lucky on the whole. There was one that upset me but only because it was a form letter, the rest have been helpful and positive.

    I think it does get better. I think you grow a skin layer and begin to stop thinking about it and just get on with other stuff.

    Maybe poetry is easier as you do get instances in between where you do get a poem bought, so you know you are't completely off the ball or useless.

    HA, 'too much information'? What a strange thing to say!

  • I think it does get better. I think you grow a skin layer and begin to stop thinking about it and just get on with other stuff.
    It has for me. I write short stories for magazines so I send out a lot of work and that means getting rejections on a regular basis. Obviously I don't like having work rejected, but I know that as I'm involved in a very competitive market this is inevitable.

    I like to have lots of work out. That means that even as I read a rejection I know the next post or email could bring better news. Of course that's harder to do if you write books.

  • The most cutting was, 'Mr X has rejected your book as it's not good enough.' Couldn't they have lied and said it wasn't right for their list???
  • I got one recently that said my book wasn't commercial because the MC was male, but my next book sounded more promising and they'd like to see that when it's ready.
    I had told them the next one was a sequel. Duh!
  • I've a file full of rejection letters, but when I get one which says they like my writing and to send more, then I don't feel so bad. Just had that with a 70,000 word YA book, and the reason for rejection was they aimed at a maximum of 35,000 words. So two manuscripts for much younger readers have been sent, And-yes -most rejections were standard (unsigned) letters
  • Lizy, Hmmm, what was you thinking?
    The friend I mention in other posts thinks it is good to tell them his book is a series of 6, last thing they want to hear.
  • Why is is the last thing they want to hear?

  • Agents are diva-ishly prescriptive about query letters and submissions, from staple phobia to font preference. Respect should go both ways. I've never had anything as arrogant and dismissive as those, Datco.
  • HA, publishers and agents both are very pleased to hear that an author has other brilliant ideas for books, same series or not. You're much more likely to be rejected for lack of ability to come up with something you are going to write next. They invest so much into an author, and gain readership, and that readership wants more of the same. In fact, it's very common for authors to get fed up having to write the same genre if they are in a round of 3 book deals all for the same publisher.
  • edited July 2014
  • edited July 2014
  • That's what I think, Liz - the agents I have spoken to have all wanted to know what was in the pipeline.
    The one I referred to earlier in this thread was extremely specific as to genre, typeface and line-spacing - and that was only in a submission!
    She wouldn't have been at all interested in my thriller or my fantasy series.
  • My very first rejection was for a couple of bits I'd submitted to the 'Oldie'.
    It was hand written in red biro on an A3 card and read: 'Alas, neither of these is right for us. I'm so sorry.
    How genteel is that?
  • I feel that the 'alas' meant he really liked them, SM.
  • Unless it was a typo and he meant Alan?
  • That's a lovely one. He seems genuinely sad about his decision. I imagine he's still grieving at the edge of some lonely cliff-top.
  • The rejection slips I have received all been polite. I have seen a few funny ones floating around the web.
  • edited July 2014
    Do you think they've been talking among themselves and have realised that writers share the hilarious ones on social media? :-))
  • Snail - you should try The Oldie again with something else. Having read a year's worth sent to me by my - alas, now departed - sister-in-law, I would have said your kind of humour was just their style.

    Give it another go.
  • I once sent The Oldie a humorous piece about eggs. Their reply was along the lines of, addicted though they were to eggs the content wasn't for them. At least by mentioning the subject I felt they had at least read it.
  • The Oldie has had some changes I heard.
  • No!!!

    I was plann ing to subscribe once we'd got back to England. I hope they;ve still got their totally evil crossword.
  • My apologies for a generic reply. In busier times it can be the most efficient way to respond.

    While we greatly appreciate your interest in our agency and thank you for your query, I’m afraid we’re going to pass on requesting your work. Sorry. With room for two or three new clients on my list right now, I have to limit my submission requests to those that feel most likely a match in genre, content, and tone.

    Although I’m passing on your project, I hope the next agent will respond enthusiastically.

    Wishing you the best of luck, success, and all good things the rest the year.

    Sorche Elizabeth Fairbank
    Fairbank Literary Representation

    still i don't understand what she is trying to aquanted me... can anyone please give an explanation about this.
  • Dear Senthil,
    Thank you for your query. While your project sounds interesting, Kevan does not feel it is right for her list at this time. We appreciate your email and wish you luck finding an agent who can successfully champion your work.
    All best,

    Patricia Nelson

    Assistant to Kevan Lyon

    Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

    this one totalyl... what to say...

    please explain one this also.
  • Hi Senthil,
    They are both standard rejection letters, polite, but saying no.

    Your work was not right for either agent. They can only take on a few new writers and so are looking for the best match. They wish you luck in trying elsewhere with another agent.

    Can I ask, is English your second language? This might make it more difficult for you to find representation.
  • second language but.... i honing my manuscript via editor in uk... i send only to 15 or 20 literary agent only... did they say mine novel is worst...
  • No, they didn't say your novel was the worst.

    They (usually) don't give any detailed feedback. They will send that same letter to everyone.
  • thanks mam... can i send mine novel to you... can go through and give me an feed back... is it possible to you...
  • I'm sorry, Senthil. I don't provide that sort of service. You'll have to pay a professional to get that sort of feedback as it's incredibly time-consuming!
  • o.k mam thanks for your time.... good day mam....
  • authonomy.com what about this website.
  • You won't get an agent from it. You'll get feedback from other aspiring writers.
  • I assume this is a standard reply, but it's a nice way of saying "no thanks":

    "Thanks for sharing this with me. I'm afraid that, while there is much I admire about your work, it doesn't feel the right fit for me. I'd certainly recommend you continue to explore other options, and wish you all the very best with your writing from here."

  • This might be of interest (Mark is a TBer):


    Mark offers an appraisal service.
  • I can see how that might be useful. It is always good to get an experienced opinion, even an inexperienced second pare of eyes to spot things like:
    "...(I have hundred of contacts in the publishing business..."
    He may wish to revisit that sentence on his website.
  • Yes, it all needs a good polish, but he does offer a useful service, albeit at a price.
  • HI Senthil

    I now see why you emailed me - as the above wise heads have said they are just standard rejection letters - polite ones to be sure - but they are not interested. Most of us collect enough of these over the years to fill several dustbins to the brim...Well I have anyway...
  • Hi Senthil
    I don't know if you're going to return to talkback, but I think you've misunderstood the purpose of this forum.
    Anyway, I would say to you, as kindly as possible: your posts indicate a poor level of written English and if your novel is written to that standard you're going to struggle.
    This is not to say you aren't a good writer with a brilliant novel - but you should consider writing it in your mother tongue and looking for a publisher in your home country instead. If your book is good enough, it might then get translated into other languages via your publisher at no cost to you.
    Good luck with your endeavours.

  • Considering the standard of writing and speech is going downhill fast with text speech, we might see the time approaching when you will get rejected just because you HAVE written in excellent English with excellent Grammar!
    PS: I haven't a chance because I can't do text speech.
  • I've just reread the original post; sorry, I went off-topic with a standard rejection. I haven't had any rude / funny rejections to date. I've only submitted one book so far, so I guess there's time.
  • Thank you for sending us a sample of your above book to review and for your patience while we read it. I enjoyed your writing, but after extensive consideration, we do not feel that we are the right agency to represent your proposed material.

    In today's email inbox

  • Poor Lizy - it must feel so disappointing, despite the 'I enjoyed your writing' bit!
  • Oh boo hoo, Lizy.
    I could say all the things about them liking your writing, at least you finished and subbed it which is an achievement, etc etc and it would all be true, but for today I think a big old hug is the best thing. (((Lizy))).
    It can be a heart-breaking game, this writing thing.
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