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How to Write a Rejection Letter. Or Not?

You can read the post at Diabolical Plots here.

I'm not sure I agree completely. There's some good stuff there, to be sure. It is a rejection letter, and it's not going to make the writer feel good. But there's an awful lot of "Nevers," too.  For example: I've read stories before that were written very well, either had been published someone else or could have been, but didn't work for me. If that happens, I definitely want to see more by that writer, and I want that writer to know it. Finally, aside from "Being Honest" (@ #7) this list makes it seem like the editor should be so worried about the fragile writer's feelings, that  if the editor says, "Not bad, but I think it should be a novella" or "The gender dynamics of hurting the wife to get to the superhero put me off..." or, "The plot felt a bit predictable once they arrived on the island" or, "It reminded of Damon Knight (in a good way), but it doesn't quite work for me" or any kind of feedback about what did or didn't work in the story, the writer might shatter. (This seems to be in direct conflict with #7: Be Honest, which seems like it supercedes everything that comes before it.) 

All I can say is that at the end of the day, if getting a rejection letter is going to cripple you emotionally, you probably shouldn't send me your story.

The truth is, I don't like writing rejections because as a writer, I know they suck. But whenever I get a rejection and the editor's taken the time to tell me why she decided to pass on a story of mine - what specifically didn't work, where the editor stopped reading, etc., it might give me some extra insight, whether it be to my own story, or to the publication itself.

A rejection can put you into a funk, sure. Especially if you practice rejectomancy (all hail duotrope) the way I do. But a rejection as something that injures you? Again, maybe you're not ready to send your stories out.

That's what I'm thinking now. But maybe I'm wrong. So let me put it to you - if you're receiving a rejection from me, what do you want me to tell you? Do you just want a form essentially saying "We've read your story and decided it's not what we're looking for." Do you want me to tell you why I decided against the story? What do you want (if you're not going to get an acceptance)?


May. 21st, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
By the way, I've asked a couple editors whether a "thank you" reply for a personal rejection is desired, and they both said "no". Not that it's going to put a black mark on one's record, but they had 100s of other submissions to deal with on a monthly basis and, though they appreciated the sentiment, they'd rather have one less email to read.

I don't know if that's a universal sentiment or not, I'd be interested what Dave prefers, but I usually refrain from sending a thank you, even though I really do appreciate it.
May. 21st, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
There's no universal law or guideline. I've heard from editors, slushers, etc. who don't mind, who get annoyed, and others who really don't care.

I'd imagine at a magazine like Tor or Strange Horizons or Fantasy or Clarkesworld, yeah, probably not.

Me personally? Totally pleasant to hear someone say "Thanks for considering it" or whatever. (Note: I'm not speaking for Ann or Anna. Just me.)
May. 21st, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
Well, cool. If I ever get rejected by you I will send you a thank letter (LOL, I don't even know who you are), but only if it is a personal rejection :)
May. 21st, 2010 06:06 pm (UTC)
Opps, sorry, that was me.

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