Why I Celebrated a Rejection

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.

Ah-hem. Anyway.

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.

Dear Author,
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? 


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on a good rejection! :)
I've celebrated too (though so far I've only submitted/published short fiction). I had one from Every Day Fiction that had a comment from three different slush readers, and it was great to just get comments. Another told me, "Dear Mr. Howat" to begin with, which was just brilliant. Yes, typos make me laugh. Especially because they went on to reassure me that they had "carefully considered" my piece.

Anonymous said...

The best rejection letter I ever received said my writing was fabulous, but the market wasn't stable for that particular genre. This was after reading my FULL MS. Needless to say, I was pretty stoked it wasn't a form rejection.

Joseph said...

I've never queried etc. but I do think that if you're good enough you should self-publish an E-book, sure you're going to have to raise a little capital for cover design and formating. I'm not saying that you're going to become instantly successful like Amanda Hocking but if you can market your book properly the you have just as good a chance as any self-publishing indie author and will probably surpass that original capital raised at the start and get some nice profit.

Just my thoughts, and this is the route that I am going to be taking. Traditionally publishing is going to get HARDER to get into, where anyone can self-publish, even that of the slush...so everyone is fair game, right?


Gabe (Ava Jae) said...

Thanks for all the comments and encouragement, I really appreciate it. :) I think a sign of a seasoned writer (at least in the querying process) is the ability to get something good out of a rejection letter.

On another note, I've been thinking about self-publishing if this last attempt at querying doesn't work. I'm pretty good at Photoshop so I could save myself that cost...I'll probably blog about that later.

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