fbpx

Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents? Click here! →

Category Archives: Critique And Feedback

The Different Types Of Rejection Letters And What They Mean For Writers | Writer’s Relief

Rejection letters from literary agents and editors of literary journals can be discouraging for creative writers—especially impersonal, one-line responses. But writers who want to succeed at getting their work published know rejection is an unavoidable and even necessary part of the writing process. So it’s important to know how to interpret the different types of rejection letters—and then use this knowledge to improve your submissions!

At Writer’s Relief, we know that a rejection from a literary agent or editor is not personal. If your work is rejected, it doesn’t automatically mean your writing isn’t good enough. It could simply be a matter of poor timing (the agency has received a glut of Westerns along with yours); the submission wasn’t appropriate (you submitted romantic poetry to a steampunk magazine); or the agent or editor simply didn’t feel passionate about your work (but the next one may!).

However, if you find a common thread mentioned in many of the responses—too many plot problems, underdeveloped characters, etc.—it may be time to take another look at the work you’re submitting.

(Note: When choosing to make revisions based on feedback, think carefully before you edit. Follow your heart and consider the comments thoughtfully to avoid knee-jerk reactions.)

Submit to Review Board

Different Types of Rejection Letters Sent To Writers

The form letter

A form letter rejection is easy to spot but doesn’t offer much in the way of information: “Dear Writer—No thanks.” Or “Dear Author—Please try again.” Some literary agents or editors will simply reply with something like, “Not for us.” A form letter, no matter what the exact phrasing, is a nice, generic way of saying “no thanks.”

Standard phrases used in form rejection letters from literary agents and editors of literary journals:

Cannot use it/accept it at this time

Didn’t pique my interest

Didn’t strike a chord

Doesn’t meet our needs

Doesn’t fit our plans

Have to pass on this

Isn’t resonating with me/us

Isn’t something we’d like to pursue

No room for more clients (unless truly compelling)

Not a right fit

Not exactly what we’re looking for

Not for us

Not suitable for us

Not quite right for this list/publication

We are not enthusiastic enough about this work

We are not certain we could be effective in placing your work

We are not right for your work

We recommend you buy/subscribe/read our magazine

We do not have a place/room for this

and the list goes on!

 

The personal rejection letter

When a literary agent or editor has taken the time to include a personal comment about your submission—even if the comment is a critique—we recommend you submit future work to anyone who cared enough about your work to offer an opinion.

Send the agent or editor a thank-you note, and if/when you resubmit, reference the comments from the original rejection.

The invitation to resubmit

Some journals and literary agents always invite writers to submit again—it’s part of their form rejection letter. But others make such an offer more cautiously. At Writer’s Relief, we track our clients’ rejections and acceptances, so we recognize the “boilerplate” form letter phrases:

We invite you to submit more in the future.

Do you have anything else we can consider? Please send.

Whether it’s a boilerplate response or a sincere offer, send a thank-you note and a new submission (when possible). Remember to reference the original comments in your cover/query letter.

The glowing rejection

And finally, sometimes an author receives a rejection that offers sincere appreciation of their writing, often going into detail about what makes the writing worthy. It’s still a rejection, but it’s also priceless validation of a writer’s talent. If you get one of these, it’s good as gold! (And be sure to send a new submission!)

How should writers deal with rejection letters?

First, keep in mind that agents and editors are people. They have varying likes and dislikes, and sometimes they have bad days… Again, rejection is not personal. You should let mean-spirited or impersonal rejection letters slide off your back, and cherish any comments or constructive criticisms that come your way. Many editors and agents truly want you to succeed, so pay attention to what they’re saying about your work and its place in the literary market. (And check out our Rejection Tool Kit for Writers.)

Many of our clients find that working with Writer’s Relief allows them to take a more professional (and less emotional) approach to their rejection letters. Since 1994, Writer’s Relief has been helping writers meet their publishing goals. We have a team of industry-specific submission strategists who can increase your acceptance rate for book manuscripts, short prose, and poetry. Let us know if rejections are getting you down!

 

Question: What’s the “best” rejection letter you ever received?

Dos And Don’ts Of Taking Feedback On Your Creative Writing | Writer’s Relief

Every writer knows the importance of getting feedback on your work—but it’s also a complicated matter. On the one hand, if a critique partner misunderstands or misconstrues, the resulting critique can be devastating. On the other hand, if a reader adores what you’ve written, it can be easy to lapse into complacency. Even a spot-on… Continue Reading

7 Signs A Literary Agent Will Treat You Right | Writer’s Relief

When you’re trying to find a literary agent to represent your novel, memoir, or other nonfiction book, Writer’s Relief reminds you to be careful: Just because a literary agent raves about you and your book, doesn’t mean he or she will be a good agent for you. So how do you know which agents are… Continue Reading

5 Things Your Writing Submissions Say About You Without Your Knowing

Believe it or not, your creative writing submissions to literary agents and editors of literary journals say a lot about who you are as a writer and how you view your career. Literary agents and lit mag editors are experts at spotting writing submission red flags that reveal your true colors! Here Are Five Secrets Your Submissions… Continue Reading

Trendy Short Story Topics That Editors Are Loving

Great writing plays a starring role in garnering acceptance letters from literary magazines. But there’s another element that will give your submissions a competitive edge: trendiness. The idea of “trendiness” often has a bad reputation because of passing fads, but being trendy is actually about being plugged in, aware of, and engaged with modern culture—not about writing in a… Continue Reading



YES, IT'S MY LUCKY DAY!
Sign me up for
FREE Publishing Leads & Tips
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

WHY? Because our insider
know-how has helped
writers get over 18,000+ acceptances.

FREE Publishing Leads and Tips! Our e-publication, Submit Write Now!, delivered weekly to your inbox.
 
  • BEST (and proven) submission tips
  • Hot publishing leads
  • Calls to submit
  • Contest alerts
  • Notification of industry changes
  • And much more!
close-link
Live Chat Software