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Word of Encouragement: If Your Rejection Letter Gets Personal, It Could Be a Good Sign

Gertrude Stein rejection letter - peoplewhowriteThere’s something satisfying about a rejection letter that gets personal. Where a form letter leaves you feeling like Prisoner #26A5B3XXX1, stripped of your identity and reduced to a pile of polite dismissal, a missive that reads as if it were actually touched by a human being can be satisfying, in a way.

It’s like the writer’s version of Captcha. Someone has read your work, and for a frustrating/confusing/incomprehensible set of reasons beyond your control, has decided to pass. But someone took the time to read your work and respond to it, personally. It matters.

When I was writing my first novel, I received a number of rejections, but the ones that took the time to explain in detail why they felt the book wasn’t right for them really kept me going. Recently, I received a rejection that lifted my spirits–and helped me fix the weak spots of my manuscript:

I read with pleasure the pages of your novel  but I’m sorry to say we’ll have to decline. There simply isn’t enough support here at the agency to provide you with the enthusiastic representation your work deserves. A year or so ago, we represented a wonderful book… which is somewhat similar in theme and setting…it was well published and well reviewed but did not do well in sales, and that could be a disadvantage to you if we were to represent your novel.
Meantime, I would like to share with you, some notes from an enthusiastic reader of your manuscript as you may find them helpful. Here are the reader’s comments:
    Up until page 300, the novel is stunning, in my opinion. A round of edits on the second half of the book might be  in order… 

 Of course, it sucks to ultimately be  passed over. Almost doesn’t count, as they say. But it’s given me hope and encouragement as have the rejection letters WritersBloqinc recently posted on Tumblr. You may not want a personal response for query-stalking, but if it worked for Gertrude Stein… 

For more encouragement, check out author Tayari Jones’ pep talk to a young author.


One response to “Word of Encouragement: If Your Rejection Letter Gets Personal, It Could Be a Good Sign

  1. Pingback: On Shame | people who write

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