Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Spectrum of Rejection

Rejection is an inevitable part of the submissions process. Although I was prepared for that when I started sending my work out into the publishing world, I was not prepared for the range of emotions that came with them. As it turns out, rejections have made me feel everything from annoyed to thrilled. Who knew?

I hate receiving a rejection in a form letter. I completely understand why it is necessary, given the number of submissions editors and agents receive. That doesn’t make it any less irritating. Especially the ones which asked for an SASE, but then didn’t return my manuscript. Why did I bother sending it?

At the other end of the spectrum is the kind of rejection I got a couple of weeks ago. The agent who sent it apologized for taking so long to respond, and then thanked me for sending in my work. The letter glowed with praise and encouragement. It was hopeful. It let me down gently, clearly rejecting the work, but not me. And even though the work was rejected, it was complimented, leaving me feeling like it would not be foolish to keep trying, keep sending it out, keep writing. It didn’t leave me feeling embarrassed that I sent my humble manuscript to a big literary agency.

I realize that not all work is worthy of an encouraging and complimentary rejection. But the most striking thing about that letter was the tone of kindness. No matter how good or bad one’s work is, treating it with respect and kindness is the best an editor or agent can do, and I appreciate that this person took the time to do so.


Sarah said...

That was a great rejection letter, Michelle. I just skimmed a blog post today dealing with an agent's view of rejection. The first story in her comment section is hilarious. Here's the link:


Lisa said...

And if I remember correctly, the letter said more than that you wouldn't be foolish to continue sending it out, but that you should keep doing so, that your manuscript will surely find its place.

Good work, Michelle!