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Sailor Kenshin
11-29-2004, 06:48 AM
What was your worst rejection?

I can't decide whether mine was the one that ended in a personal tirade about my mental and moral stability (from an editor I'd never met), or the one where the editor of a littler-than-little-magazine bought one of my black and white illustrations, published it on the back cover of an issue, and then wrote me that he regretted buying and publishing it because it looked so crappy.

How about you?

Hapsburg
11-29-2004, 03:44 PM
Hmmm..a couple I'll mention...

"No thanks" written on my cover letter and sent back to me, nine years later (it was a short form, not a novel but he did pay to bring my sase to current postage rates though).

or

"Sorry, our poetry editor didn't have time to review submissions this quarter so unfortunately, we must reject all submissions and will not have a poetry section in our next issue."

or

in response to a query "We only contact contributors whose work meets our high expectations and will be published." So if you're rejected you'll just have to figure that out as time passes and you wait to see if you can submit elsewhere without violating the simultaneous subs policy.


and then wrote me that he regretted buying and publishing it because it looked so crappy.

Can't beat that though, that's dispicable.

maestrowork
11-29-2004, 09:22 PM
Fortunately the worst was the "Not for me" scribbled on my query letter.

RichMar
11-29-2004, 11:11 PM
This from a pub I had already published in:

Dear Rich,

I'm sorry to have to return "The Long Walk." Five of us read it and no one understood it. I wish I could be more enlightening than that, but that's how it went.

Sincerely

Sailor Kenshin
11-29-2004, 11:18 PM
Wow. More! Tell me more! The nastier the better (though I don't consider most of what I've read to be very nasty).

I just remembered a newspaper. The editor personally invited me to send a short story. I heard nothing, except that there had been a regime change, so I e-mailed a total of TWO inquiries. Very businesslike, just, "Do you still have my story under consideration? Thanks for taking the time to respond."

With the third inquiry (we're talking months passing, too) I got such an expletives-included tirade back from the editor ("How dare you mess up my inbox with THREE WHOLE MESSAGES, you expletive-deleted expletive from expletive-deleted expletive!") that I e-mailed his response to every writer/writer's org I know to pass along the word that this was a nut job.

But you know? Three really bad rejects out of perhaps hundreds is a good percentage to have.

Vomaxx
11-30-2004, 05:54 AM
Today there arrived a form rejection letter from Larsen-Pomada. It takes up one whole side of a sheet and contains much wisdom, e.g., "rejecting manuscripts that become successful books is a publishing tradition" [and one they are continuing proudly?] and "every no gets you closer to a yes" [and this may mean I am very close to a yes...]. It is, on the whole, written as though addressed to idiots.

At the end of all this is a list of books about how to get an agent, written by Mr. Larsen. I must confess I dislike agents trying to sell you their own books. [Why in h--- would I buy yours after you rejected mine, buddy?]

Then, on the back of this form letter, is an ad for the 2005 San Francisco Writers Conference [Registration Fee $495.00] This event includes "Speed Dating for Agents": "Pitch your book to a ballroom full of literary agents in one-on-one, three minute consultations."

One might be tempted to attend this literary meat-market just to see if one could get an agent who has sent one a form letter rejection to look at the same book after a conversation. >:

Greenwolf103
11-30-2004, 10:00 PM
Does a "thanks for the idea; we'll have a staff writer do it" rejection count? The editor didn't say he was rejecting me and when I later followed up on that, he was rude. Ugh.

Still, it's not as bad as the rejection you received. Ouch! :(

maestrowork
11-30-2004, 10:18 PM
Well, I have that "I don't represent male chick lit -- I want to find the next Stephen King or John Grisham" letter framed.

Qalyar
01-21-2005, 05:47 PM
In the 'what the heck does this mean' category:

"Your stylistic choices have departed too strongly from current expectations of this genre."

Sailor Kenshin
01-21-2005, 08:46 PM
Woot! That's a good one.

Greenwolf103
01-22-2005, 12:36 AM
I think it means you're too good for them! ;)

rhymegirl
01-22-2005, 07:50 AM
About 4 or 5 years ago I entered a first young adult novel contest which was conducted by a fairly well-known publishing house.

The winner of the contest was supposed to get his/her novel published by this book publisher. You were supposed to send a return envelope with postage on it if you wanted your manuscript back. Or, you could simply send a business-sized envelope with postage if you just wanted the letter which told you the results of the contest. I opted for the latter.

I waited for six months (or however long we were told we had to wait) and received no reply whatsoever. So I had no idea of the results. Of course, I was curious!

But I waited a bit longer, then sent a letter to the editor asking about the contest.

She ended up calling me. She told me I should have gotten my self-addressed envelope in the mail months ago telling me the results. But of course, I didn't.

Now here's the good part. She said, "We did not end up picking a winner because NONE OF THE NOVELS WERE GOOD ENOUGH TO PUBLISH."

Ahhhhhh!!!!! That was the worst possible thing she could have said to an aspiring author. My jaw dropped a mile. She then said she had to get off the phone because she had an important call coming in. (No time to talk to little peons like me.)

I didn't say it, but I felt like saying, "Oh yeah. You'd better stop talking to me. It might be Stephen King calling."

Greenwolf103
01-22-2005, 07:53 AM
Ouch. That really must have hurt. :(

The important thing, though, is that you picked yourself up and kept writing and submitting again. You know, it's frustrating to deal with such people! And there are such people.

HollyB
01-22-2005, 09:46 PM
Yikes!

My favorite was the personal note from the editor: "This didn't work for me." Well, it was a personal note, but still, ouch!

arkady
01-24-2005, 08:44 PM
At least you guys are getting personalized replies. All I get are the standard boilerplate form rejections. I've had exactly one request-for-partial, and even that was returned with a standard boilerplate form rejection.

paprikapink
01-27-2005, 08:26 AM
Is there any defense against that?

-pkpk

Sailor Kenshin
01-27-2005, 10:02 AM
Well, they killed me today, but so far they haven't eaten me.

I wrote a story for an anthology (and the story can't really be shopped elsewhere).

Got a "no" on that today. :(

Greenwolf103
01-30-2005, 02:26 AM
Pk: That has happened to me. Grr!

And, Sailor, I am very sorry to hear about that. Maybe you'll figure out a way to give it a facelift and sell it later. I hope so.

ElizabethJames
01-30-2005, 04:27 AM
Sorry,. Sailor. That sucks.

Stlight
02-09-2005, 03:05 PM
This wasn't really a rejection. A rejection implies that someone told me my mss wasn't wanted. Here's the play, agent not required. Sent mss in - waited a year and a half (UPS said it was delivered). Since the postage rate increased I wrote to ask if they wanted more postage. No answer. Checked, yes, they had the same address. Six months later I wrote to tell them I was moving and offer more postage. No answer. Called, got answering machine told them I was moving and asked if they wanted more postage. Despite assurances that someone would return call no one did. Called again, nothing. Wrote again. Nothing. Waited until the post office would no longer forward and wrote to withdraw the mss. NEVER heard from the publisher at all.

Stlight

PS That publisher was in the Writer's Market.

arrowqueen
02-09-2005, 07:37 PM
I don't mind the rejections, they're just part of the game - I just wish the buggers would stop stealing my paperclips!

;)
aq

Mridu
02-10-2005, 02:44 PM
Wow, I'm feeling blessed that I've never gotten anything worse than ordinary "Sorry, not for us" rejections. And I thought those were bad!

The worst one I've ever received said, "Thanks, but no."

maestrowork
02-10-2005, 07:25 PM
How about "Not interested," scribbled on the original query letter. Talk about rude. :-)

triceretops
02-13-2005, 02:45 AM
Got this two minutes ago:

You've done an extraordinary job putting this proposal together--absolutely no question about it. The writing was fine, the story was amazing, but I didn't quite fall in love with this the way I wanted to. I got the impression that this piece should have been written in the main character's viewpoint, and not read so much like an article, from an outsider. This is very, very subjective and I certainly encourage you to continue to seek representation elsewhere.

There were other glowing comments from the agent, and this was a critique on a non-fiction book. Well, that's one agent down and three to go.

Triceratops

Rose
02-13-2005, 07:34 AM
My favorite rejection letter came in response to a personal essay. The form letter was typed, and contained two typos!

Rose

MacAllister
02-13-2005, 11:19 PM
If ya'll haven't read Slushkiller (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html)--get thee there and read. Read the comments, too. Solid, good info. Dead on the money, for accuracy.

Solatium
03-03-2005, 02:50 PM
Worst rejection? Picture this: a letter-sized sheet of moisture-corrugated, incredibly yellowed paper with a standard rejection notice, surrounded by thumbnails of the magazine's old covers, photocopied onto it so badly as to be almost illegible.

I imagined a warehouse full of ten-year-old Xeroxed rejection slips.

Lauri B
03-04-2005, 07:15 PM
Hi all,
So here's a question from someone who is usually doing the rejecting (although believe me, I have a shelf full of rejections, many of them crookedly xeroxed and looking like a monkey might have sent them to me):
what is the best kind of rejection? Tri, I think yours sounds like the agent or publisher really tried to give you feedback for next time. Would you rather have feedback or just a "no" so you can move on to the next one? Would you rather have an honest critique (perhaps more diplomatically phrased than some of the ones here), or not hear if your work isn't working?

I get manuscripts in every day that are well written but really not going to be marketable for most publishers--the niche they are writing for is too small, or the market they are trying to reach is too broad for the subject, or the subject itself is just too obscure for a traditional publisher to want to try to market. So give me some feedback on this. I'm going to copy this thread onto the Ask the Editor, too. I think it would be useful to hear what people have to say on this.

maestrowork
03-04-2005, 08:11 PM
For me, the best kind is a handwritten or typed letter (with real signature) stating the brief reasons why it is not suitable for the publisher. Cordial and to the point and honest. I don't need suggestions for rewrites (unless you're inviting me to resubmit again -- otherwise, it's confusing). A simple no with a brief explanation would be fine, so I can cross you off the list and move on. I'm not looking for validation here.

Wandering Sensei
03-08-2005, 11:32 PM
I got a snotty note last week from an anthology sniffily telling me that if I want to sell a story to them it might be a good idea to read some of their previous anthologies. And here's where to buy them. This was dated two months after the PUBLISHING date of the anthology. The thing is, I HAD read the previous anthologies, which is why I sent them the damn story.

Some of the worst rejections are the invisible ones. I envision the agents and editors busy steaming the stamps off my SASEs. Maybe that's why they don't have time to send us personal responses. For one story, I kinda assumed it to be a no when the book came out without my story in it. And I have at least a dozen queries/partials/outlines out to agents that have been MIA for months (in some cases for years).

Probably the worst rejection letter I actually received was a three page bad photocopy from a less than top-drawer zine that started out, "Dear Wanna-be," and got worse. Three pages on how my story, whatever it was, was rejected because it was--and here followed a long tirade of how stupid my story probably was because all wannabees write stupid, boring stories, and chances are it was badly typed and in the wrong format, too." Etc., etc. I was open-mouthed with astonishment.

Now the best rejection letter came from an assistant editor of Weird Tales. She liked some aspects of the story, but they weren't interested in it. If, however, I rewrote it and sent it somewhere else--and she made several suggestions. They were GOOD suggestions. I looked at her ideas. I looked at the story. And I figured I could do this. It wasn't rewriting the story as much as simply changing the way the story was being told. I rewrote it and sent it back to MZB's Fantasy, who had liked it but rejected it earlier. They BOUGHT it! Then they optioned it for an anthology. Then the anthology sold in Germany and England, so I got royalties from that. Cool!

Susie
03-13-2005, 12:51 AM
Hi, all,

I once got a rejection on a query I wrote and gave them some samples of my poems. They wrote back, "Thanks anyway, but we're trying to steer clear of poetry." I wondered if that was because they thought poetry was some kind of disease. lol.

Fortunately, those poems sold later on, so don't give up on your work.


Happy acceptances, Susie:)

bigstimpycat
03-25-2005, 02:13 AM
after reading the synopsis of my new kids' play, a thater company in ca asked for sample pages. got the response the other day - the good news - "i enjoyed reading the part you sent to us." the bad news - "i'm sorry we do not have place for your play in our upcoming season." the responder then noted that if i would like more guidelines for script submissions, i could contact him at the theater website. trouble is, i thought my script followed their guidelines completely! what an idiot i am!

Wandering Sensei
03-25-2005, 02:19 AM
Hi all,
So here's a question from someone who is usually doing the rejecting (although believe me, I have a shelf full of rejections, many of them crookedly xeroxed and looking like a monkey might have sent them to me):
what is the best kind of rejection? Tri, I think yours sounds like the agent or publisher really tried to give you feedback for next time. Would you rather have feedback or just a "no" so you can move on to the next one? Would you rather have an honest critique (perhaps more diplomatically phrased than some of the ones here), or not hear if your work isn't working?

I get manuscripts in every day that are well written but really not going to be marketable for most publishers--the niche they are writing for is too small, or the market they are trying to reach is too broad for the subject, or the subject itself is just too obscure for a traditional publisher to want to try to market. So give me some feedback on this. I'm going to copy this thread onto the Ask the Editor, too. I think it would be useful to hear what people have to say on this.

My best rejection came from Weird Tales. The assistant editor gave me some ideas to do if I ever rewrote the story (although they didn't want to see the rewrite). They were excellent ideas. I used them. And subsequently sold the story, which was optioned for an anthology that sold, and got royalties from, overseas.

Better than an acceptance, as it turned out!

Euan H.
03-25-2005, 04:53 AM
the niche they are writing for is too small, or the market they are trying to reach is too broad for the subject, or the subject itself is just too obscure for a traditional publisher to want to try to market.

Speaking for myself, I'd want to know if an editor thought those things about my work.


Probably the worst rejection letter I actually received was a three page bad photocopy from a less than top-drawer zine that started out, "Dear Wanna-be," and got worse. Three pages on how my story, whatever it was, was rejected because it was--and here followed a long tirade of how stupid my story probably was because all wannabees write stupid, boring stories, and chances are it was badly typed and in the wrong format, too." Etc., etc. I was open-mouthed with astonishment.

Come on, come on. Tell us, what was the 'zine? Come on...you know you want to...pleeeeezze...

Solatium
03-25-2005, 05:52 AM
My best rejection came from Weird Tales. . . .
Weird Tales gives the best rejections; I would consider submitting to them just for the pleasure of reading the rejection.

One of the reasons the "wet rejection" (as I think of it) hit me so hard was that it was only the third one I'd ever had -- and the first two were from WT. I thought their helpful, personalized approach was the standard.

Well, I certainly know better now.