Like so many of my fellow authors I have a stack of rejection letters. Well, actually, since they are emails, they don’t really stack–but you know what I mean. Reading through them, I see a lot of repetition of certain phrases, enough to make me wonder if there is a book of rejection letter templates. (Hmm, scratch that–maybe I’ll write one!)
The Disabled Editor
I’ve seen four variations of the inability reason recently:
“…we are unable to use…”
“…we are unable to offer to publish…”
“…We won’t be able to include…”
“…we will not be able to use…”
It was refreshing to see the ones that said “…we will not be using…” or “…we’re going to pass…”. Simple statements of fact, without feigning some obstacle preventing use of my story. What could it be?
“Dear author, while we have never seen a more brilliant piece of fiction, we will not be able to use your story because we have been taken hostage by a rival author. He has duct taped us to our chair, having first forced us to sign print orders for all his submissions. Since they number more than the expected production of the magazine for the entire upcoming year, that leaves no room for your mesmerizing story to be included. We hope you will understand. We wish you luck submitting it to other markets. One more thing–as a special favor, could you please call 911 for us?”
The Vague Editor
Then there are the “blind date” editors who are looking for a perfect match, without specifying just what makes perfect.
“…is not for us…”
“…not right for us at this time…”
“…isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now…”
While it might be unpleasant, it would be more helpful if they actually told us the real reason, so we would know whether we need to rewrite or just choose another market (or another career). Maybe reasons like these?
Your story is too short; we were looking for a tall tale.
My father’s name was Howard, how dare you use that name for your villain.
Your story is too heavy; we just want light fiction.
Your poetry rhymes–how quaint. Unfortunately, we are not Mother Goose.
You call that a poem? It doesn’t even rhyme.
How could you kill off Katie so cruelly–my sister’s name is Katie.
Your story has too much sex and violence.
Your story needs more sex and violence.