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htrent
07-15-2009, 10:47 PM
Ok - "no" means "no" - I get that, but the problem I have is decoding the rest of the stuff.

For instance, today I got a rejection telling me my short story was denied publication by the journal (slam!) but in the next paragraph I was told that they hoped this specific rejection won't prevent me from submitting pieces in the future.

I just need some opinions. Is that smoke being blown you-know-where (boilerplate rejection) or does it actually mean "couldn't make this story fit, what else ya got?" I think this is the second such rejection I've received (two different pieces, two different publications).

I mean, no publication actually says "Please don't ever send us YOUR work," right? (And if so, how would they word it?!)

Shadow_Ferret
07-15-2009, 10:50 PM
I take it to mean, "that didn't fit, try something else."

Yes, they aren't going to say, "YOU SUCK! Don't send anything else!" but still, they didn't have to say anything either.

I got the same thing. "This story isn't working for us, but there's still plenty of time to submit other stories."

Red-Green
07-15-2009, 11:38 PM
This is what's known as a "better rejection." Basically, most lit mags have a few layers of rejections. A form rejection that encourages you to submit again is just that: encouragement to submit again. Maybe that story didn't work for them, but they're willing to consider more of your work.

scope
07-16-2009, 03:25 AM
Boilerplate rejection. I think it would be a mistake to read anything more into the letter.

Good luck.

MumblingSage
07-16-2009, 08:57 PM
Assume boilerplate, but still take them at their word and submit again. The worst you can get is another no, and experiance says that won't kill you.

melaniehoo
07-16-2009, 08:59 PM
I don't try to analyze rejection letters. No means no, and some are better at expressing it in a less-hurtful manner than others.

If they say to submit something else, go for it. :D

Richard L. Sutton
07-16-2009, 09:22 PM
After many years of collecting rejection letters, postcards, notes and emails, I want to comment upon The Agent Rejection Letter.

Publisher rejection letters are so common, they almost don't need any comment at all -- few have a budget to develop untested authors, so they don't.

I've gotten some really useful points from Agent letters, though and not just a little encouragement. Most of the agents I've queried over the years are self-employed small business people, and if your approach is done with brevity and makes the point right away, they tend to react like human beings, if they mildly appreciate the writing.

Some of the best suggestions on my work have come from agents whose project list was either full, moving in a different direction, or who worked in a different genre (Here it's important to do your research: don't submit a hard-tack war novel to an agent who sells YA and Romance...), but..still had a moment to reply to the writing itself. I have maybe 12 of these letters and emails in my possession, and when it was looking really bleak, they helped me wipe away the tears and get back to work.

Seriously, though, I do re-read them from time to time, and growing to understand more about the publishing business, I can begin to understand how hard the business of literary agency is, and to appreciate any positive comments I can glean from their rejection letters.

Get yourself an accordion File Folder, and watch it fill up with your own rejection collection -- don't throw out any of them. Fitzgerald papered his bedroom walls, the story goes....

Anonymissy
07-16-2009, 10:44 PM
Ok - "no" means "no" - I get that, but the problem I have is decoding the rest of the stuff.

For instance, today I got a rejection telling me my short story was denied publication by the journal (slam!) but in the next paragraph I was told that they hoped this specific rejection won't prevent me from submitting pieces in the future.

I just need some opinions. Is that smoke being blown you-know-where (boilerplate rejection) or does it actually mean "couldn't make this story fit, what else ya got?" I think this is the second such rejection I've received (two different pieces, two different publications).

I mean, no publication actually says "Please don't ever send us YOUR work," right? (And if so, how would they word it?!)

This is a good thing -- encouraging rejection letters from literary journals mean you are getting somewhere, that your work is plausible, and maybe even a bit more than that. It's good feedback, even if it is sort of in code. So congrats!

James D. Macdonald
07-17-2009, 04:05 AM
Don't work too hard on practicing Rejectomancy.

And if you haven't yet read Slushkiller (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html), do so now (including the entire comment thread).

ccarver30
07-17-2009, 07:24 PM
I got this today:

Thanks for sending along the opening pages of Stone and Glass. Truth be told, though, I'm afraid these pages just didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped.

:( Gee, um, sorry.

htrent
07-17-2009, 07:34 PM
I got this today:

Thanks for sending along the opening pages of Stone and Glass. Truth be told, though, I'm afraid these pages just didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped.

:( Gee, um, sorry.

I have one of those, too. Same exact wording. Had me all panicky until I found out it was that particular agent's standard letter.

ccarver30
07-17-2009, 07:36 PM
A.S. ?

Phaeal
07-17-2009, 09:49 PM
My abiding rule is: All rejection letters are form, unless the letter is strongly personalized -- that is, it actually demonstrates that the rejector has read the work submitted, via specific mention of its characters, plot, theme, etc. Your name and even the name of the work mean nothing. They're easily inserted into a form template.

Carolyn See claims that The Atlantic Monthly once sent her a letter begging her not to send them any more short stories. Good God, woman, what was she going to send next? Family photos?

She responded by sending some pictures of her kids. And her goats.

I myself don't wait for an invitation to submit further material. I just submit it. ;)

htrent
07-17-2009, 10:59 PM
A.S. ?

Yup.

Robert E. Keller
07-19-2009, 12:58 AM
I have one of those, too. Same exact wording. Had me all panicky until I found out it was that particular agent's standard letter.

I got that one as well--just with a different book title inserted, of course. No big deal.