1 Publisher, 17 Submissions, 5 Letters

When you submit stories to publishers you can expect a wide variety of letters in response. You’ve got the various flavors of rejection letter (form, higher-tier, personal, etc.), informative notices like further-consideration and shortlist letters, and, of course, the king of all responses, the acceptance letter. I’ve showcased these letters on the blog before, but today I want to show you examples of all (well, most) of them from the same publisher. Yep, there’s a market I have submitted to 17 times, and I’m pretty sure I’ve received just about every possible response from them.

The secondary point to this post is to once again state, yes, some publishers do have various tiers of rejection letters, and you’ll see that below. Okay, let’s get started.

Letter #1: Common Form Rejection

Thank you so much for thinking of [publisher]. Unfortunately [story] is not quite what we’re looking for at the moment. Best of luck placing it elsewhere.

This is a plain common form rejection. It contains all the usual verbiage and niceties, but doesn’t say anything other than “we’re not going to publish this story.” You’ll see virtually identical letters from a dozen other publishers. As usual, there’s nothing to be learned from a letter like this, so you just take it in stride and send the story somewhere else.

Letter #2: Higher-Tier Form Rejection

[Story] is a very good story, but unfortunately, it doesn’t quite match our needs for this spring and summer issues. I hope you find a good home for it elsewhere.

What sets this letter apart from the first rejection is specificity. “Very good story” and “spring and summer” issues tell me this story received more consideration than usual. When you get a letter like this, you should absolutely take the editor at their word. They did think it was a very good story, and it didn’t match the needs of their upcoming issues. That’s all they told me, so that’s all I inferred, and I promptly sent the story out again.

Letter #3: Further Consideration

[Story] has been accepted for further consideration. We will be letting you know before the end of October whether or not it has been accepted for publication. 

Pretty straightforward here. One of the things I really like about this publisher is how concise and specific they are. Their letters don’t muck about; they just tell you what’s up. This further consideration letter is a great example of that.

Letter #4: Final-Round Rejection

[Story] made it through to our final round of consideration, but unfortunately it was not a good fit for us at this time.  We wish you the best of luck in finding a home for it elsewhere.

Thank you for thinking of us at [publisher]. We hope you’ll consider sending us more of your stories in the future.

This rejection letter came after a further consideration letter, and though it’s a form letter, it’s a good one. You know you got close, and there’s likely nothing wrong with the story other than what they said: not a good fit at this time. The addition of “We hope you’ll consider sending us more of your stories in the future” just seals the deal that this is a better class of no.

Letter #5: Acceptance

I’m very pleased to let you know that [story] has been accepted for publication in the March issue of [publisher]. You should be receiving a contract shortly from [editor].

I’ll be reviewing each piece, so may have minor fixes for you to check. They should be ready for your review well before the issue is scheduled. You’ll also have an opportunity to review the story after upload, before it goes live. 

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Ah, the good stuff. It took me eleven submissions to crack this publisher, so this was a gratifying acceptance. One thing you might notice is this is still basically a form letter. That’s not unusual, honestly. Some publishers have a boilerplate letter for acceptances because they need to impart a lot of information that really doesn’t change from author to author. For example, here they tell me when the story will be published, that I should expect a contract shorty and whom I should expect it from, plus they notify about any minor proofing that might take place. That’s all I really need from an acceptance letter. The editors expressed more personal thoughts on the story in subsequent emails.

Oh, one other thing I appreciate about this publisher is they told me in the subject line of the email the story was accepted. I always like that, and it’s nice opening up a response from a market and knowing it’s good news.

You might be thinking that I’m missing a personal rejection, and that’s true. If you squint, the higher-tier rejection might be considered a personal note, but I feel more comfortable calling it a higher-tier form letter.


So, what does this collection of letters tell us. Well, for one that some publishers do indeed send various types of rejections that hinge on how seriously they considered it for publication. Keep that in mind when you get that next rejections; it might tell you more than you think. Another thing to take away from this post is that form letters aren’t all bad. In fact, some of them convey good news and even the very best news. 🙂

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