Friday, July 22, 2011


Response to a form rejection in the slush today:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Regretfully, I am unable to accept your rejection at this time.
Despite what might sound like a cocky attitude, I am, to the contrary, quite unique in that I have until recently refused to allow myself to be certain about any of the major areas of life. It has been my observation that most others are absolutely certain by the time they are twenty years old of their beliefs toward themselves, other indivdiduals and groups, religion, politics, relationships, social issues and everything else in life.

This makes little sense, as did the next several paragraphs on...some stuff. Then there was a note that let me know that the book was 90% ready to go and how I probably didn't see much of that.

Jaw. Drop. All this has done is inflate the count on my inbox. Please don't respond to form rejections. I know they seem callous, but with literally thousands of queries to read, they're necessary if I'm going to reassure you that your query was read. By a real person.

Sending me a response (and a long one at that) is just annoying, unfortunately--even a thank you is just upping that "Unread" count.


  1. This made me shake my head sadly.

    Seems like there's a lot of weird stuff going around on the web atm. I just got an email from someone telling me to write a love story about a struggle between a boy and girl - she could "convey all the experiences" I'd need to write it.

    Eh, right?

    Got another really random, strange comment on my blog today, too. So weird.

  2. It's hard to admit this, but I sent a rejection letter to an agent once, when I was young and foolish and had way too much time on my hands.

    It was a truly terrible form rejection, Xeroxed crooked on yellowed paper. It started with a condescending "Friend:" and went downhill from there, saying that we should all study grammar and learn to spell and go to Writers Conferences and never darken an agent's door again unless we could write guaranteed bestsellers just like the ones currently on the NYT list. It had three grammatical errors, a misplaced apostrophe, and two misspellings. I corrected it and sent it back, referring him to several agencies who wrote more professional query letters.

    I think he left the business soon afterward.

    I didn't ramble like your friend here. But I was definitely out of line.

  3. You have to admit, at least it's not boring and it gave you something to blog about. It looks like this person believes that persistence means doggedly pursuing agents rather than putting in the effort on another round of revisions or starting a new project. I can understand the sentiment, It's certainly tempting to think, "It's not me it's you" no matter how wrong-headed that sentiment is.

    When I started out, every rejection made me think, "Oh, this agent doesn't know what they're missing! I mean sure there may be some flaws in the opening chapters, but if they could just work through that and see the brilliance of the rest of the book I'm sure they could help me fix the beginning."

    Then a few months later, having learned a lot I realised my manuscript wasn't such hot shit. It was good, but needed work, probably more work than any agent was willing to take on, so I had to do that work myself.

  4. Oh my god, it's just like that scene with Bernard Black in Black Books!

    Hilarious stuff. :D Maybe that will cheer you up.

  5. If you're going to send a career-threatening reply, you might as well be funny about it. Go down in flames so we can all watch and have a nice chuckle. A co-worker of mine once did that and I'll never forget him storming out the door, "You're gonna miss me!" We didn't.

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  7. You can set up a rule in most email clients to delete responses to rejections. That way, you never have to look at them again.

    Unless you're feeling like you need a "Wha?" moment, and then you can go through your deleted email folder :)

  8. And I have to ogle at the irony--he sent what's likely a form letter to a form rejection. Battle of the form emails, commence!

    Whenever I encounter bizarro stuff like this, I always remember this Far Side cartoon: