May 17, 11:42 PM: Gmail informed me that I had a new e-mail. It was from the agent I’d queried over the weekend and “I’m sorry” was in the first ten words. I’d seen enough rejection letters to recognize one even from the little blurb at the bottom of my computer screen.
I opened my inbox just so that my Gmail icon would go back to neutral. I’m a little OCD about those things. I’m OCD about a lot of things, but that’s beside the point.
I always read my rejections. I’m a bit of a masochist I guess, but there’s a part of me deep down inside that hopes I’ll be able to get something other than bitter disappointment from them. Nine out of ten times, it’s a form letter rejection.
blah blah blah sorry but this isn’t for us blah blah blah
we wish you the best, remember that this is a very subjective business blah blah blah
They’re all pretty much the same. And having an archive full of them is great for your confidence. But it’s (an unfortunate) part of the process.
Upon a second glance however, I realized this one was different. First off, it started with “Hey there” and in my experience at least, no form rejection starts with “Hey there.” And it was a rejection, but rather than a normal Dear Author letter, this one said REAPER had “poise” and “polish.”
I read those two words over and over again. Yes, it really said that. It wasn’t my imagination. Poise. Polish.
What excited me the most was that this was the beginning of my second round of queries for REAPER. After collecting more than a handful of form rejections, I re-wrote it completely. Everything. I put it in first person, deleted entire sections and rewrote every word.
Then I re-wrote my query letter to match my book. I wasn’t sure it was going to work.
But this rejection was much more than I’d ever received before for REAPER. It was a spark. A hope that maybe, just maybe, I was headed in the right direction.
I’m not saying I’m going to get an agent now. Or even a partial request. Hell, I may get form rejections from here on out.
But personalized rejections mean it was a near-miss. It means the agent took the time to write back to you rather than sending the easy “no thank you” form.
It’s a pat on the back and it goes a long way.
What’s the BEST rejection letter you’ve ever received?