In previous posts in this series, I’ve covered common types of rejection letters (at least the ones that are common to me), but there are others letters out there a writer might receive, strange hybrids that are neither all rejection nor all acceptance. These crossbreeds come in a variety of flavors, but the one I’m most familiar with is the further consideration letter. It looks like this:
Just a quick note to let you know that we’re holding [XXX] for further consideration. We should have a final decision for you by March 31.
Getting a letter like this is exciting—it kind of feels like an acceptance letter because there’s a definite sense of validation. The editors liked the story, at least a little. Why else would they hold it for further consideration, right? That said, the further consideration letter can be anxiety-inducing. You know you have a real shot at publication, so waiting for the publisher to get back to you with a decision can be somewhat nerve-wracking.
Be patient, the publisher will get back to you (you have their attention). Hopefully, they get back to you with an acceptance letter. If not an acceptance, then it’ll be something like this:
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to consider this one. After reading and discussing it, and then holding it over for several rounds of further consideration, we’ve finally decided to pass on it. We like it a lot, but don’t have the space and budget to publish everything we like, and in the final cut must pass on some stories we might otherwise buy.
Good luck placing this one elsewhere. And in the meantime: you got really close this time. Not this one, but maybe your next one. Send us another story, please.
Sure, I was disappointed because I got so close (the editor even said as much), but I also felt pretty damn good about this letter. They did like the story, they almost published it, and they truly wanted to see more of my work. That’s a lot of unambiguously good stuff wrapped up in a rejection letter. Why did they ultimately pass? The editor mentioned space and budget, and I have no reason not to take him at his word. I certainly understand the magazine business, and the words space and budget are always looming concerns.
So, if you get a letter like this, I think you should do exactly what they ask—send them another story. You want to get them something else while your name is still fresh in their minds. That’s not to say you should just fire of any old thing. One of the benefits of getting close is it should give you some indication of the type of story the publisher wants, allowing you to zero in for your next submission.
I did finally publish the story that generated the letters in this post. I fired it off immediately after getting the very nice rejection letter you see here. I was confident I had something good on my hands. The story was rejected twice more before it was finally published, but I never lost faith in it (like I’ve done with a few other stories), and I credit some of that stick-to-itiveness and the eventual publication to this near miss.
Have a near miss of your own you’d like to share? Tell me about it in the comments.