Rejection Letter Rundown: The Considered Rejection

Often you have to wait quite a while for a publisher to get back to you about a submission, which is just a reality of being a writer, but when you have good reason to hope your story will be accepted, the waiting can be pretty nail-biting and the possible rejection all bit more disappointing. The rejection letter du jour is the considered rejection, which is a whole process that begins with an encouraging note like this.

“XXX” has been accepted into our final round of consideration. We will be letting you know before the end of [the month] whether or not it is accepted.

What we have here is a further consideration letter, which is always a good thing. It says the publisher liked your story, and they’re, well, considering publishing it. I appreciate these largely because they often come from markets that can take a while to get back to you, so it’s nice to get some notification that a decision is in the works. Now, of course, getting a letter like this is no guarantee of publication, because it might eventually result in a letter like this:

Thanks so much for letting us consider your story “XXX.” While it made it to the final round of consideration, I’m afraid that we chose not to accept it. We had a lot of submissions and there were difficult decisions to be made. Best of luck placing it elsewhere.

Ouch. Bummer, right? My story was under consideration for about three months before they decided to pass on it. This is all part of the writing gig, and I have no doubt my story was up against some stiff competition. So what’s the takeaway from a rejection letter like this? Simple. I got close. The story got close. I like to think that’s evidence the story is pretty decent the way it is, and I should send it to another publisher right away, which is exactly what I did. If this publisher liked it enough to seriously consider it for publication, the next one might like it even more. We’ll just have to see.

Have you received a considered rejection? Tell me about it in the comments.

16 Comments on “Rejection Letter Rundown: The Considered Rejection

  1. The “You made the first cut” notes often leave me ambivalent. On one hand, it’s nice to know they didn’t just lose the submission and in fact, I DID make the first cut. On the other, I opened the email expecting Yes or No, but I still don’t know if the story’s accepted. Which can be frustrating. Plus, if it ends up rejected, I’m apt to be a little more disappointed than usual because the previous email got my hopes up.

    • Yep, these are always a bit of a double edged sword. In general, I find that markets that send further consideration letters often take quite a while to make a decision on a story, so like you said, it’s nice to know your submission didn’t just fall into the abyss.

      On the other hand, knowing your story IS being considered is going to get your hopes up. No avoiding that.

      I think the silver lining here is that even with the rejection, you know the story probably isn’t total shit if it made it to the final round of consideration. 😉

  2. Yes, when I was looking for a home for The Hanged Man’s Noose, I received a long email from one publisher telling me the book was good and made it to the last round, but they felt it wasn’t quite “cozy” enough for their list. They suggested finding a publisher who published edgier mysteries. I found Barking Rain Press, and after a 4 month wait, I got the contract. It’s all about finding the right home. Your story will find that place and shine!

    • I’ve long believed that once you reach a certain level of professionalism (definitions of that term will vary, of course) with your writing, getting published is often about finding a market/editor that digs your style/tone/voice/whatever. I’ve found a couple that fit that bill, but I’m always on the lookout for more. 🙂

  3. These can be so frustrating. To be that close and not make the final cut makes me wonder WTF the deciding factor was. Did my story miss the cut because of something in my storytelling/style/presentation or was there an outside factor beyond my control such as too many similar stories?

    In many cases, the almosts find a home quickly, but I have two stories floating around that the first editors seemed to really like and held for quite some time, but have received no love from subsequent submissions.

    So it goes, eh?

  4. Thanks for this, Aeryn. I recently had one my stories get this sort of rejection: close, but not quite there. I sort of shelved it for awhile after that, don’t know why. This post was the kick in the ass I needed to get it back out there again.

  5. I really hate under consideration letters, and I wish markets wouldn’t send them. There are few things worse in the world than getting your hopes sky high, only to have them brought screaming back down to Earth when the rejection comes. I’ve had this happen a number of times, and it has never felt good. All things being equal, I’d prefer to find out my story’s status with a query letter rather than a under consideration letter.

    Right now I have a few stories under consideration, and I just assume they’ll be rejected. That way, if they are rejected, then I can assuage my bad feelings by saying I knew it would happen. And if I get an acceptance, then it’ll be a pleasant surprise.

  6. I’m a relatively new writer, and this happens to me all the time. I’ve recieved these from pro markets- Apex, Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, Let us In (anthology), Chappy Fiction Time Travel (anthology), Daily Science Fiction and the semi-pro market Spark. In the end they were all rejections (except Spark who still has it, but I went back and read the story and I am pretty sure it will be rejected). I have no pro acceptances, which leads me to wonder why this happens so often. It’s like being in limbo, more frustrating than helpful. I can’t put stories that are rejected like this in my trunk, so I keep spending time revising them and sending them back out when I should be writing new stories. Does anyone else have this problem?

    • Hi, there. I think these letters are a lot more common with pro markets, who typically take much longer to decide on a story they like (they’re usually quick with rejections if they can tell straight away the story is not a good fit). If you’re getting these on a regular basis from top-tier markets rather than simple form rejections, you’re doing something right. The thing to remember is that pro markets get A LOT of submissions, and the competition for their limited space is fierce. A rejection from a top market, especially after a further consideration letter, does not always mean there is something “wrong” with your story. It might mean they had another story that was similar or one they liked just a bit better or that your story wasn’t a great fit for the theme of their current issue.

      My personal rule of thumb on stories that are considered and then rejected is I keep sending them out, as is, until I get some actual feedback as to why the story has been rejected. Then I’ll consider revision. YMMV, of course.

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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