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aka eraser
07-16-2007, 06:45 PM
Way back in the dark ages (early 70s), when I started subbing, form letter rejections were short and not-very-sweet. There was no mistaking the message. If I recall correctly, most were one-liners like: "Thanks but no thanks." or "Not for us." Sometimes they'd be prefaced by a "Sorry." Those ones got me misty.

From perusing our Rejection and Dejection forum over the last couple of years it seems the average pub/agent/editor has taken a course in How To Reject But Not Bruise Delicate Psyches 101. It's gotten to the point where many of the posts in that forum are along the lines of "Is this a form rejection?" I can hardly blame the new writer from wondering. Some of the rejections are so florid and effusive that it takes a second or third reading to absorb those few words at the end, abjecting apologizing for not accepting the query/ms.

Obviously, if one is to be rejected, the preference is to receive a personalized note that directly references the material and explains in detail just what was lacking in order to make it buy-worthy.

But if you had to receive a form letter rejection, would you prefer a return to the "olden" days and its curt "Nope" or do you like this new, kinder, gentler form letter approach?

C.bronco
07-16-2007, 06:54 PM
"A no by any other name is still a no." That was either Phil Rizzuto or Shakespeare, I think.
But I always wonder exactly how much of ,my query/partial/full the agent actually read before nixing me.

MidnightMuse
07-16-2007, 06:56 PM
Personally, I'd love a return to: No, thanks.

If I can't get a personal reply, such as: I'll have to pass on this one, because -- (and seriously, I know we can't expect them to take the time and do this). Then I'd rather just get a No.

The form rejections, while already dealing with a writer's fragile ego, can really muddle you up. You understand it's a No, but you can't help but search for some glimmer of understanding in the words - so when you read: Your writing is strong, but I didn't fall in love with the story like I'd hoped. You can't help but grab on to the first part, and agonize over the second. Then you second-guess yourself, and try to read more into it - hoping and praying it meant more than just a flat-out No. Then you find out, or simply admit, that this is nothing more than a form rejection and you come crashing down from that little glimmer of hope you took from the first half of the sentence. That just leads to drinking, and poetic thoughts of self mutilation and a career as a remover of gum from the underside of cafeteria tables.

So yeah, I'd love to get that baindaid ripped off quickly. You might miss a few of those cute little arm hairs, and it'll hurt like heck for a second or two, but you'd get over it more quickly and be able to move on.

Jamesaritchie
07-16-2007, 07:16 PM
The long form letter is a byproduct of the computer age. Compose once, print as many times as you like, and the computer can even make each one look like a personalized rejection by adding the writer's name, the title of the story, etc.

maestrowork
07-16-2007, 07:19 PM
I enjoy receiving, once in a while, a truly personalized letter addressing some specific issues about my ms. and wishing me good luck with it. I think the personal touch is nice. But a no is still a no.

But the specific issues are very helpful. They helped me realize some of the problems with my ms. and after I fixed those, I was able to get it published.

Otherwise, I prefer just a "No, thanks." So I can move on.

Enraptured
07-16-2007, 07:24 PM
It doesn't matter overly much to me; a form rejection is a form rejection. Though I admit that I do prefer the longer, nicer ones; even though I know they don't mean anything different from the one-sentence form rejections, they do sting a little less.

Siddow
07-16-2007, 07:25 PM
I prefer a plain and simple yes or no.

My nemesis is the re-write request. I turn into a total moron then, a scribbler with crayons. God help the editor if I ever when I sell a novel.

stormie
07-16-2007, 07:27 PM
For a rejection, I'd prefer a simple "No thanks." (But please, no red rubber stamp with the word "NO" slapped over my query.)

Once you've received your hundredth rejection, (or even your tenth), you don't read those long missives anyway. You just toss 'em.

Star
07-16-2007, 07:29 PM
I prefer a flat out no. If you can't give me specifics, don't give me a boilerplate form letter. Shucks!

Pat~
07-16-2007, 07:32 PM
I honestly have no preference. I only read the first line anyway. ;)

justpat
07-16-2007, 07:46 PM
I don't mind the form rejections, I know agents get way to many queries and could not possibly respond to each one personally. What bothers me are the ones that just don't bother to respond at all. (What are they doing with all those stamps?)

Birol
07-16-2007, 08:34 PM
You know, Frank, I'm with Pat. I'd never really given much thought to the length of form letters. I just mentally translate them all to "Thanks, but no. This isn't for us."

I do understand why editors send form letters out, though.

Kate Thornton
07-16-2007, 08:54 PM
I don't mind a form letter as long as it's a form acceptance.

For rejections, well, it doesn't much matter - a no is a no - I think I prefer that no to be short and to the point, though.

Jersey Chick
07-16-2007, 09:15 PM
I'd rather have a short and sweet "No thanks," than the usual "isn't right, not a good fit (did I submit a shoe?)" and I hate the patronizing "Remember (pat on the head, pat pat) this is only one opinion. There very well may be another agent who feels differently so you should keep querying". I know it's to keep me from chucking it all, but no agent has that power over me just yet, so it irks the hell out of me.

The red stamp No, a chicken-scratched "No" on a coffee-stained post-it (I've had them), and a rejection on material I haven't sent ("After reading your synopsis-" What synopsis?? I didn't submit a synopsis!)...

Yep - "No thanks" is fine for me.

Novelhistorian
07-16-2007, 09:24 PM
Unless the agent intends to explain why, two words will do: No, thanks. Like other posters here, I can't stand the "now, don't give up, dear" kind of letter.

I don't see what computers have to do with it. These letters are all addressed "Dear Author." Nine out of ten are photocopied, and the tenth is a printed card.

Mania
07-16-2007, 09:32 PM
One of the replies I received said 'we liked your story, but it wasn't for us'. It probably did make me more hopeful that someone would publish it, but I agree with others here, I'd prefer a simple 'No, thanks'.

seun
07-16-2007, 09:43 PM
I don't mind a basic no. If there's a reason why they rejected it that's more than not for us, that's helpful. Any small piece of advice that gives me something to work on is always helpful, but that's not coming then I'll stick with sod off.

BardSkye
07-16-2007, 09:57 PM
I guess I'm in the minority as I prefer the longer form letters. Not because my fragile little ego needs pampering (it doesn't) and not really because it makes rejection anything else.

I see it as a courtesy, like holding a mall door open for a complete stranger. The courtesy of sending a business letter rather than a post-it note to a complete stranger.

MajorDrums
07-16-2007, 10:07 PM
The title of this thread reminded me of a Seinfeld episode, where Elaine was at a doctor's appointment getting a shot:

Elaine: Is this gonna hurt?

Doctor: Yes, very much.

A form rejection is going to hurt either way, so I don't have a preference; it helps to get a little chuckle out of some of the sugarcoated ones, as well as the big red "NO" I once received, though.

JamieFord
07-16-2007, 10:28 PM
I don't mind either way. It's funny though how everyone uses essentially the same boilerplate rejection these days.

rugcat
07-16-2007, 10:29 PM
Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil - but there is no way around them.
- Isaac Asimov

I think what bothers writers most is when it's clear that the submitted material hasn't even been looked at before the rejection is sent.

BardSkye
07-16-2007, 11:10 PM
Or sent back unopened, when their own guidelines indicted they were taking submissions and said to send sample chapters.

RG570
07-16-2007, 11:26 PM
To me it depends. I don't mind a curt reject on a query or a partial. But if someone asks to read the entire thing, and I have to wait six months to hear back, I'd like a personalized rejection.

I mean if they read part of it and want to read the whole thing, that means something about it sparked their interest. To get a simple "no thanks" at the end of that long journey is a bit of a piss off. Even if they just told me the point where they knew they didn't like it would help.

Jamesaritchie
07-17-2007, 12:15 AM
I don't see what computers have to do with it. These letters are all addressed "Dear Author." Nine out of ten are photocopied, and the tenth is a printed card.

You need to submit to classier places. I haven't received a photocopied rejection, or a printed card type, in years.

Novelhistorian
07-17-2007, 12:18 AM
"A no by any other name is still a no." That was either Phil Rizzuto or Shakespeare, I think.
But I always wonder exactly how much of ,my query/partial/full the agent actually read before nixing me.

Phil Rizzuto would have said, "Holy cow, it's no!" Which, come to think of it, sounds better than not right for us.

RG570 said: I mean if they read part of it and want to read the whole thing, that means something about it sparked their interest. To get a simple "no thanks" at the end of that long journey is a bit of a piss off. Even if they just told me the point where they knew they didn't like it would help.

Agree with you there. If they've gone that far--and made you wait that long--they should offer something. In my experience, they usually have. And if they've kept it a very long time, in all but one case, they were willing to answer a brief e-mail asking for clarification.

arrowqueen
07-17-2007, 12:19 AM
I have no idea what they're saying these days. I just check the letterhead to see who I'm sending the stories out to next.

Susan Lanigan
07-17-2007, 08:58 PM
I like encouraging rejections. A large publishing house sent back a letter saying "you write well, but your material is not right for our market at present."

The worst is ones that aren't even signed. They can be disheartening. But you have to keep on keeping on all the same...