If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve certainly heard me say that a rejection does not (necessarily) mean you wrote a bad story. In fact, it can mean you wrote a good story that was rejected for a bunch of reasons you simply can’t control. Sometimes an editor might tell you your perfectly good story was rejected for one of those beyond-your-control reasons I mentioned above. In my experience, this type of rejection is pretty rare. I’ve never received one, and to write this post I had to borrow one from a friend. My writer pal Patsy Pratt-Herzog recently received a rejection where the editor was kind enough to share the reason Patsy’s good story was rejected. Patsy has graciously agreed to let me post the rejection letter here with my usual editorial scrub.
Thank you for sending us this piece. We appreciate the chance to read it, and we thought it was a great story (love the Cinderella twist!), but unfortunately, this is purely a case of getting two similar pieces and having one fit better with our vision of the book than the other.
A rejection that calls your story great and gives you a totally legit reason why it was rejected is like finding a diamond on top of a unicorn at the end of a rainbow. In this case, the editor received two good stories that were very similar and had to make a tough decision. I think this kind of thing happens fairly regularly, especially with themed anthologies. Yeah, an acceptance is always better, but a rejection like this means you can send that story on to the next publisher with real confidence. So keep this rejection letter in mind the next time you get a form rejection or even a personal rejection that says the story just wasn’t a good fit.
Thanks again, Patsy. Best of luck finding a great home for your story!
Have you received a rejection letter like this one? Tell me about it in the comments.
I always liked this rejection (as much as one can like a rejection, I guess):
“Thank you again for the interest and story. I really appreciated the opportunity to read *****. I liked it and thought it was well written. Unfortunately it is not something we’re really in the market for at this time. While you definitely captured the hard boiled, gangland pulp feel, we are in need of other genres of pulp. ************ has always been home to different genres in the pulp style. We tend to get a lot of the gangland/hard boiled stories so we are currently looking for other genres. I do wish you much success in future writings.”
Yeah, that’s a great example, and, again, I think this kind of thing is pretty common. You wrote a good story, but you just happened to submit it during a time when they had too many of that particular story. Awesome the editor took the time to tell you that, so you can fire it off to another market with confidence.
The BBC have an article on pop stars being rejected which may interest you.
Thanks for the link, Quentin. That’s a great article.