It’s a strange experience when I speak to non-writers about receiving rejection letters. To the outside world, hearing nothing at all is the greatest of news. Inside a writer’s world, it’s silent code for “no, we are not interested in your work.”
Which, if I’m being honest, stings a little. No one likes being ignored but the fact is, writing is competitive and with thousands of people emailing agents, I understand why it’s the natural order of things.
It’s a strange experience because a non-writer’s automatic reaction is usually along the lines of “I’m so sorry. They’ll rue the day…” which is completely opposite the response I receive from fellow writers, a mix of “Hey, at least they wrote you back!” or “Is it a personal rejection or a form?”
Rejection is not always immediate. It can come hours, days, weeks….later. In this case, I received an email nearly five months after submitted my query. I’d already crossed out their name and placed a red “R” in the corner.
I appreciate the time this agent took to email me back and to not leave me hanging in the void of a silent No. What I am most grateful for is the kindness and level of professionalism put into this email. It’s so….thoughtful.
Thank you so much for your query, but we’re going to decline at this time. Unfortunately, your manuscript just isn’t the right fit for our agency. I know you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your project.
Take heart: the publishing industry is very subjective, so what may not work for us could be just what another agency is looking for. We strongly encourage you to continue your pursuit of publication.
In your search for the perfect agent you may want to check out Cris Freese’s Guide to Literary Agents blog. We have found it to be a great resource for finding new agents that are looking to build their lists.
We also encourage writers to gather beta readers and critique partners to help hone your craft; their suggestions can be invaluable.
Thank you for considering _____ for your manuscript and we wish you great success with your writing career. We hope you’ll consider us again for your next work of art.
I share my rejection with you because I do not believe, as writers, there’s shame in being turned away. There’s no tragedy in being told No or in receiving an email with less than happy news. Think about your favorite author, look back on a memorable story. Chances are, they’ve been told no, too. What sets them apart is not giving up.
Keep at it, my dear writers. Gather your strength, hone your skills, storm the castle.
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