Rejection Letter Rundown: The Referral Rejection

In the hierarchy of “good” rejections, the referral rejection has got to be near the top. What is it? It’s a personal note from an editor often telling you why they didn’t accept your story and then referring you to another market that might. Pretty cool, right? Here’s one I recently received.

Thank you for submitting your story “XXX” to XXX, but we’re going to take a pass on this one.

Not quite enough horror in this, I’m afraid, but I’m betting the folks at XXX will really like it: [link to referred site]. You might try this story with them. 

By the way, I’m super stoked about “XXX.” Keep sending stuff our way!

A quick note before I break this down. This market recently accepted a story of mine (you can probably tell that much from the letter).

Okay, here are some good things about this rejection. One, they tell my straight up why they didn’t take it. “Not enough horror” are three words that tell me A LOT. My story had horror elements, but is likely closer to dark urban fantasy than straight horror. It really gives me a good idea what to send them in the future, especially now that I can compare the story they accepted with this rejection. Two, it’s fair to say they liked the story, and the referral is to a fantasy market affiliated with them. Three, the last sentence is a legit invite to send them more stuff; that always great.

As you can guess, I fired this story off to the suggested market immediately. I feel pretty confident about it, but, you know, there’s no guarantees in publishing. Still, I like my chances with this submission a bit better than most.

If you’ve received a referral rejection, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

8 thoughts on “Rejection Letter Rundown: The Referral Rejection

  1. Many years ago, the editor of well-known F&SF publication rejected one of my short stories and suggested I submit it to her husband, the editor of another F&SF publication. He accepted it. Unfortunately, his publication went under before publishing my story, and the story bounced around for many years before finally finding a home.

    I also edit anthologies. Several years ago I pitched one to a major paperback publishing house. The editor liked the idea but it didn’t fit their line. He suggested I pitch it to the editor of a somewhat smaller paperback publishing house. He also liked the idea but it didn’t quite fit their line, either. He suggested I pitch it to another, smaller publishing house. That editor also liked it, but the publishing house closed before he made a final decision to accept or reject it.

    So, referral rejections haven’t quite worked out as well as I would have liked.

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