A Better No: The Higher-Tier Form Rejection

I’ve covered higher-tier form rejections on my blog a few times, but it’s a subject I see in writing circles a fair amount, so I thought I’d dip back into my generous supply of rejection letters and show off some recent examples. Let’s look at a couple common form rejections and higher-tier form rejections from the same markets and see if we can spot the differences.

Publisher #1

Common Form Rejection:

We have read your submission and will have to pass, as it unfortunately does not meet our needs at this time.

Like many common form rejections from big markets this is short and to-the-point. It can be difficult not to read into these letters, but avoid it if you can. Trying to decipher what the editor means when he or she sends a letter like this is an exercise in futility and not a good use of your rejectomantic resources. It’s a no, simple as that. Move on.

Higher-Tier Form Rejection: 

We have read your submission and unfortunately your story isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now. While we regretfully cannot provide detailed feedback due to the volume of submissions, we thank you for your interest in our magazine and hope you continue to consider us in the future.

A bit different, right? The bright spot here is the “consider us in the future” bit. That usually (but not always) means a higher-tier rejection. It’s not as informative as a personal rejection, sure, but the editor probably liked something about the story. Like the common form rejection, you shouldn’t read too much into these letters, but I think you can take the editor at their word. This story was not a good fit and you should send them something else.

Publisher #2

Common Form Rejection:

Thanks for submitting “XXX” but I’m going to pass on it. It didn’t quite work for me, I’m afraid. Best of luck to you placing this one elsewhere, and thanks again for sending it my way.

This common form rejection is pretty similar to the first one. It’s a bit longer, but it says the same thing: this market is not going to publish this story. Again, that’s really the only thing you can take away, so don’t over-analyze. File the rejection away and send the story out again.

Higher-Tier Form Rejection:

Thanks for submitting “XXX,” but I’m going to pass on it. It’s nicely written and I enjoyed reading it, but overall it didn’t quite win me over, I’m afraid. Best of luck to you placing this one elsewhere, and thanks again for sending it my way. I look forward to seeing your next submission.

It’s a little easier to spot the higher-tier form rejection with this publisher. They include the bit about the next submission, but they also mention the quality of the writing. Additionally, the phrase “didn’t quite win me over” as opposed to “didn’t work for me” is, in my experience, more common in higher-tier rejections. (How’s that for some Rejectomancy?) Despite the fact this letter tells you more than the first one, don’t spend any time trying to figure out why the story was rejected. You’ll never know, and that’s okay. The editor liked something about the story, and that should be  enough reason to send that story somewhere else.


If you’d like more info on higher-tier rejection letters, then I strong recommend checking out The Rejection Wiki, “a wiki for recording literary rejections to help in determining whether you have a standard, tiered or personalized rejection.” It’s an invaluable recourse, and if you look real hard, you’ll find the four rejection letters I posted here. 🙂

Do you have any thoughts on higher-tier rejections? Examples from your own collection? Share them in the comments.

5 thoughts on “A Better No: The Higher-Tier Form Rejection

    • Excellent question, and, yeah, it kind of looks like a personal rejection, doesn’t it? I know it’s not only because I’ve received this rejection verbatim a couple of times. Also, in my experience, a personal rejection will usually say something more specific about the story.

      Reply
  1. This is going to sound weird, but I’ve stopped noticing anything that you mention as a signal for an “upper tier” rejection. These days I only pay attention to 1. if it’s a yes / no / or maybe (with maybe being anything from ‘further consideration’ to “Hey, how do you feel about rewriting this?”) 2. If they gave me any kind of feedback regarding the submission, or what they’re looking for in general.

    Unless they’re pitching me an upcoming submission call, I almost never notice the “try again next time” note.

    Reply
  2. Received this one: “Thank you for sending _______ for our consideration. I’m sorry to say that we are going to pass on these, but we would welcome the chance to read more of your work in the future.” It’s heartbreaking because this particular magazine isn’t listed on Rejection Wiki (perhaps I should submit my own post there?) so I feel I can’t be entirely sure if they are genuine in welcoming more work. Sounds promising, but formatted.

    Reply
    • I think you should take the editor at their word. If they say send more work, take that as a positive, and send more. 🙂

      And, yes, you should totally add to the rejection wiki with new markets.

      Reply

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