Interpreting Rejection Letters.

My apologies for being a few days late with this post. I’m out near Dubbo enjoying a bit of R&R. 🙂

We can think of rejections as positive or negative. It depends what type of rejection letter you receive, and how you examine a rejection letter.

Do you remember your first rejection letter? I do. Talk about numb, along with a few hours or a few days of walking around trying to understand it all. We have to toughen up and try again, and again. I do hope what I have to say will help you in those down times of receiving such a letter.

In 2008, a Traditional publishing house requested a full manuscript. You can imagine how cloud nine played a very strong role in my life for a few weeks, until nerves set in and I thought what if they don’t like it?

Three months later my first rejection arrived stating: ’Although we loved your plot, and characters we find that such and such is unbelievable’ I was shocked, I cried, read and re-read the letter. I think I allowed a day to pick myself up and get on with it. But at times it isn’t that easy. Every writer should know that this will be the first of many rejections. I have a folder full of them. Urgh!

1. The Standard Form letter

We have all heard of this one. This letter states that they are overwhelmed with submissions, or your work is not suitable for their publishing house. Meaning they don’t publish that type of work. Another reason is they have plenty of these types of submissions/Stories and are seeking perhaps contemporary not paranormal. Editors are busy people and are required to answer in this way.

 1. A Copy letter of the Form letter

I’m not sure which is the most severe, the form letter or the copy of the form letter. This rejection suggests that your work didn’t grab even an eyelash let alone an eye. This is the type of letter that goes out to a lot of people. I was one of the not too happy recipients a few years back. The main reason they stated is that they are inundated with submissions and can barely keep their head above water.

 2. The Polite Rejection Letter

This one usually says, ‘Although I liked your plot, your characters weren’t engaging enough. YAH! Well at least the plot is intact and they liked something about your manuscript. This is the first real step on that ladder. You are beginning to acquire some attention.

3. The Rejection letter that asks for changes

When an editor suggests that you make changes to your baby with no offer to contract step cautiously. This happened to me; although the changes were minimal, later on down the track it was rejected. This letter suggests your manuscript has potential to sell. It may already have the potential to sell without the changes, so submit around. But if you feel the editor has a point, perhaps the changes are worthwhile.

 4. The Detailed Rejection Letter

This is one of the better rejection letters. The editor has read your manuscript instead of skimming through the first few pages, or chapters. If there are detailed comments on your setting, plot or characters make notes about what didn’t work for that particular publisher. This suggests that you are almost there, it’s almost a yes.

Some argue that you should make the changes and re-send. I suggest that if they ask for the changes and resubmit, do so, but if they don’t ask for a re-submission don’t. Usually they say, send a fresh partial, do not work on this manuscript. This entirely depends on the publishing house.

5. The Full Detailed Rejection Letter

This one gives so much information that you are beaming from ear to ear. Usually it’s around a page perhaps two pages stating where you went wrong. There may be a request for change and re-submission or perhaps to start a fresh novel, where there won’t be as many changes. (you have learnt from this letter what not to do and what to do) This is the best rejection letter, this is where you should step forward and go with it finally putting your foot into the publishing world.

Don’t forget it is your plot, writing style and your voice that will eventually sell that manuscript. And to keep your spirits up take a look at this video. It will make you laugh. 🙂

Bernard’s Letter.



10 thoughts on “Interpreting Rejection Letters.

  1. Thanks Linda. Every writer receives the above emails/letters. We have to persevere. After all, John Grisham’s first novel was rejected 25 times. Beatrix Potter had so much trouble getting The Tale of Peter Rabbit published, she ended up pushing it herself. Stephen King received heaps of rejection letters before Carrie was published and made into a movie. There are loads more, so we have to persevere, and be persistent.

  2. I remember my first rejection letter – I was totally gutted. Mine was a form response and being such a newby writer a the time, I had no idea what to do or what was wrong with my ms or how to fix it! I kept working on it, did more writing workshops then entered contests where I received constructive feedback. Fabulous post Suz with great advice. And I love your response in the comments, persevere and be persistent.

  3. Wow. I never thought that writers had so much to go through. Although I started to write a few years back, it’s not going to happen. I’ll stick to reading me thinks.

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