Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rejection Templates Revisited

The Quoibler and one of the anonymice on this blog are on to something when they suggest honest, refreshing rejection templates. Agents and editors should update their stock letters by consulting with actual writers on the topic. In fact, agencies and publishing company's should *hire* writers to write the rejection templates. It's a diabolical plan, but it just might work. We'll come up with something fresh. Like, let's see, how about:

  • "Dear Writer, Rejected: You seem cool, but you need to rewrite. I don't know why or how, but if you sit in a quiet place for about a week, or on top of a mountain briefly, it will come to you. I'm pretty sure. Yours, Rejecting Agent"

  • "Come on, Writer: I know you can do better than this. How about a little spell checking and grammar consistency? Perhaps some more interesting details (alternate options: emotional heat, drama, plot, narrative continuity, depth, sex-appeal, spunk, etc.)? Writing isn't the same as being a parking lot attendant. You've got to sweat; you've got to dig deep into your emotional center and feel the pain of what you are trying to say; you've got to demonstrate some originality and truth. It's got to hurt, baby. Until then, no can do. --Agent of Truth"

  • "Yo Writer: You came sooo close, but my job sucks and the market is horrendeous. Did you know that 80% of Americans didn't even purchase one single lousy book last year? So what am I supposed to do? Risk it all on you, even though your short stories are going to sink the entire publishing company, for which I work. I mean, if block-buster short-story writer Alice Munro has trouble moving more than 50,000 books out of the Barnes & Noble, what the hell can we expect from you? (I know, know, she's Canadian, but still.) This isn't a dream world. This is a business. If you still feel like writing after this dressing down, you probably are the real thing, but that doesn't mean I (or anybody else) is going to publish you. So, keep your day job. And buck up. Maybe someone will discover your work when you're dead. Sorry to disappoint. I'm as depressed as you are about it, but I gotta' go get a latte and some gum. Sincerely, Agent 007"

  • "Maestro: If only I could publish you, but I just can't. It's too complicated to explain, but the situation involves my ridiculous bosses and my own lack of acquisitioning power. The corporate structure is killing me. Do you have any idea who owns us now? This huge corporate conglomeration is no joke. So, why don't you try a small, independent press or LuLu? In fact, tell them I sent you. Tell them I'm a fan--of theirs and yours. Maybe it will help because you really deserve to be in libraries until the end of days. And instead of just saying "no" to a book I think is flawless (or at least pretty damn good), I'm going to go out of my way and try to help you get published, pretty much without lifting a finger. Just go ahead and use my name liberally all over town. See if that and two bucks will get you on the subway. Warmly, Not-so-Evil Editor"

Okay, writers, your turn. This is a call for submission. The Quoibler wants to make an anthology, but we'll settle for some blogging fun.

Post your ideal rejection template here.

(BTW, come up with a name other than anonymous, mice, so we can identify and publish the best top three by "name".)

19 comments:

The Quoibler said...

Aw, dang, W., R. I'm gettin' all misty-eyed here. :)

Thanks for the nod.

Now I have to think of something funny... back later with a witty (or at least not vomit-inducing) response.

Editor, Advising said...

Wow. If I thought you were serious with those template ideas, I would have a lot to say about them. For instance, that those template declines would most likely (almost definitely) be seen by many writers as unprofessional and rude...and then what? Would there would be blogs created in retaliation to overly-honest/overly-mean template rejections. You can't please everyone. In the end, the editors do what works best for them because they are the ones who have to spend most of their waking hours reading crap to find the few, rare gems.

Then again, if I thought you were being serious, I would be really scared for you.

Anonymous said...

I think your rejection letter "templates" are so much more insulting than the rejections you have gotten and labeled "mean".

They're really awful.

hisgirlfriday said...

Oh my God, people. Can no one here get a joke?

mercury retrograde said...

I agree with hisgirlfriday. What's with the humorlessness? Earnestness makes me feel sad and hopeless. Boo hoo.

mercury retrograde said...
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mercury retrograde said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
aj said...

Here's my Template:

Dear Writer:

It's not you. It's me.


Sincerely,

Gloria Loomis

Anonymous said...

Gloria Loomis is nice. Leave her be. My template woud say

Writer: Representing you isn't going to work out for me. So, can we just be friends? But don't call or write. And don't let anyone know. It'll be our secret.

Writer, Rejected said...

I deleted two messages from Mercury Retrograde, which were repeats of the message that appears, though it probably does bear repeating. Nothing bums me out more than earnestness.

J. Brisbin said...

Dear Writer:

This is going to hurt me a lot more than it's going to hurt you. I realize you worked really hard on this and probably poured your soul out into it, but the accountants say your book won't sell. Accountants actually run things in this day-and-age, and let me tell you, after that whole Enron thing, they're all a little edgy. You do NOT want to piss off an accountant these days.

In order to let you down easy (and to avoid possibly getting hate mail every week for the next year and a half), I'll close by telling you that another agent might jump at the chance to represent you, yadda, yadda. It's completely untrue, of course, but you creative types are so emotionally unstable that I can't risk a lawsuit by telling you what I really think and having you run out and rob a bank with tree limbs duct-taped to your body like that guy did not too long ago and then blame it all on me telling you the God's-honest truth about the steaming pile of hooey you so carefully packaged and sent to us.

Have a great day! Hope you make manager at McDonald's soon!

The Quoibler said...

Dear Writer:

My hands tremble as I write this missive by candlelight. Outside, the snow falls silently, interrupted only by the gunshots snuffing out the lives of my colleagues.

The guards pace... one, two... their boots crunch. Do they know what I'm telling you? Will I be next?

I shouldn't be writing. It's not allowed. Not like this. But your manuscript--I weep as I frantically scribble--was just too perfect.

I read it twice before they took it from me like a babe removed from the bosom of its mother. I ran after the beasts, spitting at their ignorance as they dropped the package into the flames, laughing. The butt of a rifle met my belly and then all when dark.

When I awoke, I was here in my cell, beaten but not defeated. I found this scrap of paper. I am weak from hunger and thirst as I scrawl in my own blood; still, it's important I make contact with you:

Your work was outstanding. Really and truly.

But I am not allowed to work with you for reasons you must never try to discover.

Yes, Writer. You are among the best. I wish you great success and...

dear God... are they back?... I hear the thud... the keys jangling... avenge me!

The Editor

Anonymouse said...

I know the contest is over, by I'd really love to have this template:

Dear Writer:
You are awful. Stop. Please stop.

Sincerely,
The Editor

Anonymouse said...

I know the contest is over, by I'd really love to have this template:

Dear Writer:
You are awful. Stop. Please stop.

Sincerely,
The Editor

Anonymous said...

Why has Writer Rejected rejected two comments in this list here? Surely it would be in the spirit of this blog, which I enjoy, to see her comments to the two writers concerned?

Writer, Rejected said...

No, no. No rejections by me. Someone simply had a computer glitch and sent the same comment three times, so I was just cleaning up the blog by removing two of the three repeat comments. The original comment is still there of course, as noted in my own comment above.

I would never willing reject anybody, sweethearts. Surely you know that by now?

the individual voice said...

Quoibler, your letter was a masterpiece. I'd give up writing for a reject letter like that.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr ****

I enjoyed your style and I can see that you have put a great deal of effort into this. Either you have an extensive vocabulary or you actually went through the trouble of consulting a thesaurus. Great, keep it up.

But you see this is how it is. We can not sell this. Firstly your story is not about a boy wizard with a lightning shaped scar on his head and this is by itself is definitely a deal breaker. Secondly you touched on some deep socio-economic and emotional issues that I feel our readers just won't understand. Please write for our audience. Don't be so self indulgent.

Lastly, Larry from marketing phoned and said we should shift our key demographic focus to one-legged Hispanic midget laundromats. So if you could go ahead and write a really good story about an amputee midget called Joze who likes to wash clothes in his spare time when he is not dating the leader of the Vatos Locos' sister and then gets caught up in a spiral of crime, drugs and sex then go ahead and we will see what we can do for you in the next issue.

Regards

Sympathetic Editor Who Is Trying To Help

Gabby said...

Dear Writer,

Your {feet, pits, sentences} smell and it's obvious that you can't [tie your own shoes, boil water safely, plot to save your life]. We have [read, trashed, dry heaved over] your submission and find no space with our publication now. We encourage you to [lose our address, die, try painting, stay on your medication].

The Eds.