Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms., Thank you…. The Creativity of Rejection Letters.

As I started to round “Arn? Narn?” into the form of a book, I needed to get an idea of what interest it might generate. Of course, I believed in it, perhaps too much as a the parent of their first-born can be. The reality that it might not have any merit doesn’t enter my mind at all. Well, not often.

The first rejection letters were no surprise. I expected to get them. Some were sent back within a reasonable period of time; others when received, I honestly forgot I had sent to those particular parties. I guess you can’t cry over what you never had in the first place, right?


As many aspiring authors before me have learned, publishers and agents have many more things to do rather than read another query letter. Yet, this is what they have to do in order to keep their business flowing. So, if your letter doesn’t capture their interest immediately, a rejection letter might be sent out. “Might” is the operable word because not all respond. And not in a timely fashion either. Do not under any circumstances hold your breath. You might expire before you hear anything. I received one back not too long ago. Consider that my publisher and I have been working together now for nearly a year and this was sent out easily a year before that and… well, you get the picture.

Most publishers and/or agents use a form letter, sort of like a reverse draft notice. “You have been found unfit for military service. Too bad.”


Some will do a nice personal note; others scribble a note on their form rejection letter; some write their rejection on your query letter and send that back you; and others print their rejection multiple times on a single piece of paper, cut or tear it, and then send you a strip rejection note. (Classy, real classy.)

Here are excerpts from some of the ones I received.

1. “…It is with a heavy heart that we must pass on your manuscript.” Form letter. Just how heavy was their heart?

2. “I apologize for the long delay in answering your query, but I was quite backed up over the summer.” Personal letter, nice.

3. “Do not be discouraged. You truly can achieve any goal you desire with persistence and effort along with self-education in your desired field.” Form letter, written no doubt by one of Oprah’s staff.

4. “Not for me, thanks anyway.” Short hand-written note on my query letter. At least he took the time.

5. “…I am taking on very little fiction these days…” Form letter. But, it’s pretty obvious she did not read my query letter.

6. ‘We currently do not have the financial resources to invest in this project…however, if you are willing and capable of providing funding…” Really?

7. And my all-time favorite, “No.” Short and sweet. (

This is not meant to paint all agents and publishers in the same broad stroke. They are all different and have specific markets. Rather, it’s as I wrote in my “The 4th R” post, there will be rejection and one shouldn’t take it personally. Don’t take it personally, especially if these people don’t. Have fun with it. And don’t scrimp on the tissues either.

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