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View Full Version : Post 'em if you got 'em: Favorite rejections



dragonjax
04-19-2005, 06:52 AM
Okay, AW, let's hear your favorite rejections from agents or publishers! Any takers?
:popcorn:

SRHowen
04-19-2005, 07:12 AM
. . . I fear I am going to be sorry for not taking this on. Your story and your style have the hallmarks of a best seller, but I wouldn't have any idea how to market this or who to pitch it to.

Julie Worth
04-19-2005, 07:26 AM
ďGod will do No. 2 on your tennis shoes.Ē - P.J. O'Rourke, National Lampoon

My first rejection. I was a kid. It was the early seventies.

William Haskins
04-19-2005, 08:38 AM
several years ago, i was rejected by MAD magazine. the form rejection began something to the effect of:

"obviously, since no check fell out of the envelope, we have decided not to use your work."

sgtsdaughter
04-19-2005, 08:45 AM
several years ago, i was rejected by MAD magazine. the form rejection began something to the effect of:

"obviously, since no check fell out of the envelope, we have decided not to use your work."

i got one of those too. sadly funny . . . well funny now, certainly not then.

sgtsdaughter
04-19-2005, 08:46 AM
several years ago, i was rejected by MAD magazine. the form rejection began something to the effect of:

"obviously, since no check fell out of the envelope, we have decided not to use your work."

i got one of those too. mine was from some crappy magazine, and i thought that they sent such an abrasive rejection letter because they were small and unpopular. nice to know that larger mags do it to. sadly funny . . . well funny now, certainly not then.

maestrowork
04-19-2005, 09:42 AM
(After holding my ms for months, and after knowing specifically what my ms was about -- which is to say it's not King-ish or Grisham-ish...)

"While it's well written, I'm sorry to say I don't represent male version of chick lit. Most editors are looking for the next Stephen King or John Grisham..."

Maryn
04-19-2005, 07:50 PM
"We're afraid your samples chapters, while quite well-written and compelling, are not what we're looking for at this time. We do suggest that you send it to Mr. _____ at [Name], our imprint for children's fiction."

What? The opening chapter involved a teenage hooker experiencing some 'rough trade.' Somehow, I don't think the children's fiction market is going to want it!

Maryn, discouraged to know they obviously didn't read it

Ralyks
04-19-2005, 08:34 PM
I can't remember it to quote it exactly, but it went something like this:

"While our listing in the Poet's Market led to thousands of submissions, it led to only one order for the book listed in the guide. This total lack of support has DOOMED our efforts to publish poetry. I ask you, IF POET'S DON'T READ POETRY, WHO WILL???!!??"

The caps were definitely in the rejection, and most of the words are there...but there was more, and I recall DOOMED appearing twice, though I forget the details of the second instance.

KTC
04-19-2005, 08:41 PM
Believe it or not I got one back from a magazine that read a little like this...

It's not you. I swear. Perhaps someone just sh*t in my cornflakes this morning, causing my mood to be unopen to your submission.

It was close to that anyway. I kept it, just can't find it. I think it was from ZYGOTE.

clara bow
04-20-2005, 05:55 AM
This is my favorite because it was so nice:

Ok - Iíve been holding onto your manuscript for so long, I apologize. [she only had it for 12 weeks, which is like, nothing!)
Unfortunately, Iím going to have to pass - even though I know this is a really interesting project that will probably do really well.

Iíve been sitting on it hoping for a spot on my client list to open up, but it just looks like it is going to take a lot longer than I expected and didnít want to hold you up longer than the few odd years that Iíve already done so.

I hope that if you consider querying me in the future, but I expect that another agent will snap you up before then.

Thank you for considering me for representation - I wish you the best of luck with [book]

sgtsdaughter
04-20-2005, 06:39 AM
Believe it or not I got one back from a magazine that read a little like this...

It's not you. I swear. Perhaps someone just sh*t in my cornflakes this morning, causing my mood to be unopen to your submission.

It was close to that anyway. I kept it, just can't find it. I think it was from ZYGOTE.

KTC,

you gotta admit that that one is oddly funny.

A.

triceretops
04-20-2005, 02:54 PM
I got a specific request from a regional California publisher who did stories on the more popular valleys of California to submit my paleontological valley discovery to his publishing house, with the condition that it would be eagarly read by the president. I knew that my manuscript was idealy targeted hear and sent it off.

The rejection came back with the notation that this regional publisher didn't think the manuscript was not national enough. I kid you not. I thought that a 33 million populace in California would be an adequate audience for such a small regional publisher.

Triceratops

JoeEkaitis
04-21-2005, 04:08 AM
From a small press:

Everyone who reviewed your novel believes it has the potential to become a major seller, but as a small press, we do not have the resources to market it properly.

Translation:

We don't want to be the ones to tell you this is crap that will never see the inside of a typesetting room so send it out to a few biggies and let them do our dirty work.

Final result:

Another small press is in the process of editing the same manuscript for a possible Christmas 2005 release.

eldragon
04-21-2005, 11:10 PM
Dear Pamela,



We here in Utah don't believe in cocktails OR in drinking, and we don't believe that people who serve them are following the road to God!



I actually had someone tell me that once. I told her to lighten up and go have a drink.



Hey, it sounds like something that has possibilities. So, I'd like you to go to our Submission Synopsis page, fill out the form there, and if you can sell me on that, I'll ask for more. Here's the URL:


And, so I sent her what she wanted and heard NOTHING> ever again from her.

pepperlandgirl
04-22-2005, 02:04 AM
Hhahahahaha. "We here in Utah..." hahahahahaha. Every alcoholic I know lives in Utah. Don't let anybody tell you that A)it's hard to find booze in Utah or B) Utahns don't drink. It's a hairy lie.

This is my new favorite. A gushing form rejection I received this morning.

Thank you so much for sending us your good story, "The Weasel," which we found both interesting and well written. The story didnít work for us this timeóan entirely subjective decision, always rememberóbut we liked a lot about it and wish you well on finding it a home. Another editor may well snap up this story, which we sincerely wish for you. We thank you too for your interest in StoryQuarterly, which validates the commitment, even passion, we have for good fiction and promoting it. We hope youíll continue to think of us for your fine work and wish you the best of luckóin writing, in loving and in living.

Anaparenna
04-22-2005, 02:58 AM
About 15 years ago, when I was in my teens and just beginning to submit, Marion Zimmer Bradley threatened to nominate a short story submission of mine for the Bulwer-Lytton award (http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/). :D Then she red-penned the first two pages. It was the best rejection I ever got, actually, but I was crushed. I never did win that award.

eldragon
04-23-2005, 07:54 PM
Just remember, if you take a vacation to Utah, bring your own beer or liquor. I had a pretty lousy ski vacation in Utah, cause the resort sold beer until 8 pm.......at about $6 a bottle.....then closed down for the night. Nothing much worse than sitting in a condo in the middle of Utah, miles and miles of icy roads from town........and it's 8:15 pm, no TV even (and I hate tv - don't watch it at home). Didn't bring a good book ......already did the lovin thing with the man.........and there's nothing to do until the next morning when the slopes open.

Maryn
04-24-2005, 12:47 AM
Gee, pepperlandgirl, although it's a bit gushy I'd rather receive that than some of the harsher ones you hear about. I hope you submit to them again on Monday!

Maryn

Ella
04-24-2005, 03:20 AM
My first short story submission was rejected with:

"This would be better suited as a poem." - And it was red inked all over the place, reworking it into a poem. I was quite astonished, and still don't know what to think.
I don't think I've written a poem since elementary school.

mdin
04-24-2005, 03:34 AM
I remember I got one of my SASEs once back, and it was extra thick, so I was really excited.

I opened it up and pulled out the papers, and the cover letter said:

CONGRATULATIONS!

You are in the majority! You've been rejected just like most people who submit to us!

The other papers were leaflets on their current publications.

maestrowork
04-24-2005, 08:08 AM
I remember I got one of my SASEs once back, and it was extra thick, so I was really excited.

I opened it up and pulled out the papers, and the cover letter said:

CONGRATULATIONS!

You are in the majority! You've been rejected just like most people who submit to us!

The other papers were leaflets on their current publications.


Ouch! That really hurts. What, they have some twisted, sick sense of humor? Are they still in business?

:)

arrowqueen
04-25-2005, 01:52 AM
I suspect some enraged writer has popped round, shot them all and burned down the building by this time.

brinkett
04-25-2005, 03:01 AM
I suspect some enraged writer has popped round, shot them all and burned down the building by this time.
That's right. Show, don't tell.

dragonjax
04-27-2005, 06:32 PM
About 15 years ago, when I was in my teens and just beginning to submit, Marion Zimmer Bradley threatened to nominate a short story submission of mine for the Bulwer-Lytton award (http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/). :D Then she red-penned the first two pages. It was the best rejection I ever got, actually, but I was crushed. I never did win that award.
MZB utterly decimated a short story of mine that I subbed when I was about 20 and first getting my writing legs. Man, she was brutal. Honest, but I got frostbite just holding her rejection slip.

dragonjax
04-27-2005, 06:37 PM
Here's my current favorite. Just got it yesterday from Flesh & Blood:

I've read your submission and decided that I'll have to pass. What with the influx of submissions we've had lately, we're required to resort to generic form rejections on and off until we're caught up. Typically we reject based on the following criteria: the story was poorly written; the story lacked strong enough elements of the dark fantastic, strange, and/or surreal; the story was over 5000 words and sent without approval; the story was not contemporary; the plot was one that we've seen before; or the story as a whole just didn't stand out amongst what we have in the pile.

Do feel free to send to us again, and rest assure that we're working hard on reversing having to use form rejections very soon.

So in other words:

It might have been the writing wasn't right;
It might have been our underwear's too tight;
It might have been due to the narrative flow;
It just doesn't matter because you'll never know.

:Spam:

Ralyks
04-27-2005, 11:39 PM
My first short story submission was rejected with:

"This would be better suited as a poem." - And it was red inked all over the place, reworking it into a poem. I was quite astonished, and still don't know what to think.
I don't think I've written a poem since elementary school.

I've actually once said exactly this about a short short story submitted to my magazine. But I didn't rework it into a poem. So it wasn't yours! More often, it's the other way around--a poem would work better rewritten as one scene in a short story. Hey, have you ever tried submitting the re-worked story as a poem anywhere?

At least the editor put some time into it!

Lauri B
04-28-2005, 03:21 AM
From a small press:

Everyone who reviewed your novel believes it has the potential to become a major seller, but as a small press, we do not have the resources to market it properly.

Translation:

We don't want to be the ones to tell you this is crap that will never see the inside of a typesetting room so send it out to a few biggies and let them do our dirty work.



I totally disagree with your interpretation of their rejection. The editors at that house liked your work, and said they did--but they didn't think they could put the marketing dollars behind it to make it a big seller. And they were probably right--the children's market is the most competitive out there, with the tightest margins. If you have submitted to a small publisher who likes a book but tells you that they think in order to sell it well they would need a bigger marketing budget than they have, take it at factevalue. Small publishers don't have the marketing budgets that publishers like Scholastic do. It's just a fact.

It's great that you found a small house that wants to publish your book, but I think you're selling yourself short by interpreting the previous publisher's response to you the way you have. Good luck with your new book!

priceless1
04-28-2005, 04:22 AM
I remember I got one of my SASEs once back, and it was extra thick, so I was really excited.

I opened it up and pulled out the papers, and the cover letter said:

CONGRATULATIONS!

You are in the majority! You've been rejected just like most people who submit to us!

The other papers were leaflets on their current publications.
Yech. That just goes 'way beyond sick and twisted. I may like to joke around as much as the next person, but I would never do it in a rejection letter.

Nangleator
05-16-2005, 12:49 AM
I just got this from an agent:


Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately, I was not sufficiently enthusiastic to feel that I would be the right agent for your work.

Best wishes for finding a good agent and publisher.

Pleasant enough. Strangely, though, I had only sent a query letter. Are most agents and publishers too lazy to keep a separate pile of rejection letters for queries?

Oh, and it took 2 months to reject a query letter. This dude must be busy.

Maldon
05-18-2005, 12:48 AM
My "favorite" rejection came a few years back when I was sending my first novel out. The first publisher to 1) request the full manuscript and 2) send it back sent the whole thing back with the word "NO" written across the front page of the script in big, red, crayon. OUCH! But after a while I wondered if he had his 5-yr-old helping him out. (And the book was eventually published.)

My real favorite rejection came just recently regarding the horror book I am sending out. My number-one choice publisher had requested the full manuscript and sent me a very nice letter that said amongst other things: "You book is chilling and macabre." "The plot is inventive and exciting." "At many points I simply couldn't put it down." Of course the last thing he wrote really hit home: "Unfortunately, I don't like it."

ooooooooooooookayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Then, with the same book, there was the publisher who said: "This book is too Christian for a regular press." (The book, a horror novel, has a plot that involves the Dead Sea Scrolls. It's Christian like the Da Vinci Code is Christian.) The Christian publisher, OF COURSE, said, "This book is not nearly Christian enough for our press to entertain publishing it."

Well, what did I expect? ;)

arrowqueen
05-20-2005, 03:50 AM
I'm sure I've said this before, but my all-time favourite rejection came back with three coffee rings and a dollop of marmalade on page 2.

At least they stopped short of lining the bottom of the budgie's cage/the cat litter box with it.

Nangleator
05-20-2005, 06:43 PM
...with three coffee rings and a dollop of marmalade on page 2.

I'd actually be encouraged by that. At least it shows they were reading it. Of course, if the marmalade was on page 400 that would be better.