Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Black Knight of Rejection Letters

Arthur: "What are you going to do bleed on me?"
BK: "I'm invincible!"
Arthur: "You're a loony."
BK: "The Black Knight always triumphs!"
    ~Monty Python and the Holy Grail

That pretty much captures the whole rejection thing for me...only, I'm not Arthur the Author. I'm the Black Knight, being rent limb from limb with each rejection but continuing the fight, Meanwhile, Arthur the Industry gallops across the bridge searching for other knights with the potential to be Best Sellers.

I'm not bitter though. No, really. I'm not bitter about the process or the people. I don't blame the folks at the other end. I don't think they're idiots, fools, or nepotistic bastards ... well, not after the initial "KAAAAAAHN" scream upon reading the rejection.

I'm frustrated. With me.

I know there are folks out there who dissect every word, period, and spacing of a rejection letter looking for some hidden meaning. I'm not one of them. I've received many a canned letter. Because of the twisted nature of any art industry, I'm happy to at least received a response. That whole "No Response = No" attitude is appallingly unprofessional by any standard. Those are the folks with whom I would not want to work anyway.

A good rejection letter is a personalized rejection -- one that shows the rejector actually read my submission. An added boon is when they throw in a compliment. "I love the way you <whatever it is I did well.> When character X did Y and Z, it was <emotion I meant to create in scene>."

A great rejection letter builds on a good rejection by adding specifics as to why they're turning down my story. "However, I had to pass because <structure or style failure named.> An example is when A and B happened, they caused <disastrous result from reader perspective>." I'm analytical enough to get giddy when I'm told "this is what is broken" because then I know what to fix.

The best rejection letter takes a great rejection and adds hope. It's the type of hope  Jeffe mentioned in her Sunday post -- Revise & Resubmit. If the rejector has taken the time to personalize a rejection, cited one (or more!) specific examples of flaws, and still wanted to take another look at the piece -- short of having an actual offer from another party, why, oh why, wouldn't I R&R?

I'd like to thank all those in the position of acquisitions for taking the time to issue a response. To those who take the extra time to issue a great rejection -- many, many thanks.


  1. Like the Black Knight, you too shall prevail! or at least, bleed all over them...

    Very funny post!

    1. I'm good with the bleeding thing... Leaves a stain. ~evil laugh~

  2. Eh, it's only a flesh wound. - it's the right attitude to have when a rejection has torn off both your arms. ;o)

    1. Exactly! That's why I love the optimism of the Black Knight.