Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Little Letter

Today I'm going to come out and post one of the many rejections I've received through the years as I've tried to publish my novels (some short stories and poems were thrown in there too).  Going through my email today, I came upon this one, short and sweet, from and agency I won't name as even rejectionist deserve their privacy, no?  

Every rejections hurt.  And often it's the rejections with all the words that hurt the most.  Or at least that is what I used to think.  Then I worked harder, longer, and learnt more about writing and publishing and decided it is the rejections without all the words that hurt the most, because they don't teach you anything.

So what I'm really going to do, is show two rejections.  One is a rejection of one of my novels, and one is a rejection of a short story.  Which type of rejection do you prefer (if you prefer any type of rejection at all)?

Thank you for your email.  While your project sounds interesting, I don’t think it is right for my list at this time. 

I appreciate your querying us, and wish you good luck in finding the right agent who can successfully champion your work.


Agent XX
XX Literary Agency

(The following is an abbreviated version of the actual letter)

Dear J.E.Hunter

Thank you for sending us your story The Storm.

After a close reading, we have determined that it will not be a good fit for XX Magazine.  There are many reasons why stories get rejected.  We look for the most effective combination of plot, characters, emotion and originality.  Some stories have one or two of these traits, but only a few have them all.

The premise and setting of the story are SF cliches, so you need strong characters and more vibrant dialog to rise above the cliche.  Your opening is a long expository lump, where you tell everything that you should be showing the reader.  And the ending doesn't ring true.  

Yours very truly,

XX Editor

The second letter wasn't dated, but I can tell you that it came back to me a number of years ago.  I'm pretty sure it made me cry.  But now, when I look back at it.  I can see that I took all of those comments to heart, got my butt in gear, read more books on writing, worked with a writer in residence, and practised, practised, practised.  And I am much better for it.  Give me longer letters any day.  

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