Believe it or not, there are two types of rejection letters: bad ones, and good ones. The bad ones are form letters, one that the editors obviously composed and mass sent out to authors, merely filling in the blanks for name and perhaps the title of the submission. Good rejection letters, on the other hand, are very personal and specific to you as a writer and your submission. These usually contain extra-heartbreaking details like that they loved it, but they don’t have room in the journal, or it was well-written and entertaining but not quite “dovetailing with current editorial needs.” Sometimes they ask you to submit again in the future (make sure you do, because editors don’t say that lightly!) Though it hurts more because you were just that close to getting published, it should also make you feel awesome and accomplished!
On Thursday, I got two rejection letters. One was good, the other was bad. When I read the good one, I was disappointed because I’m really fond of the journal and thought it was the perfect place for my short story. But the editor had such nice things to say, explaining how many of the review board members really enjoyed it and “wanted more,” it kind of softened the blow. But it also taught me two things:
- I know that my submission was close to what they wanted, so I’m better informed about what to submit next time
- Obviously, they thought the story was good, just not quite for them, (having someone’s opinion besides mine, my mom’s, and my sister’s–which are all heavily biased in my favor–who thinks it’s a good story is always reassuring!)
And guess what that means? I definitely must submit it elsewhere because it’s only a matter of time before it finds the right home. When I skipped out back to tell Mom, who was stained green from cutting the grass, I was excited. “I got a rejection letter,” I shouted over the lawnmower. “But it was a good one.” I read it allowed to her and she was excited too.
We did not have a similar happy dance for the bad rejection letter–a totally impersonal form one–I received later in the afternoon.
So if you’ve gotten a rejection letter–good or bad–make sure you submit it somewhere else, immediately. Don’t wait around, moping. Even though waiting to hear back from a journal is about as enjoyable as plucking your eyebrows, waiting to get published without actually submitting stuff is much much worse. And it makes the wait a lot longer. As soon as I got the good rejection, I sent the story to Brevity through submishmash. But now I can wait, and look forward to a letter from them.
I am presently waiting on:
- Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)
- Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)
- matchbook (date submitted: March 7th; what submitted: 1 short short fiction)
- The Susquehanna Review (date submitted: March 14th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 2 non-fiction)
- Zahir (date submitted: April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)
- Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle (date submitted: May 11th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
- Brevity (date submitted: today, May 19th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction
Has anyone out there submitted to any of these places and heard back recently? Are you experiencing similar wait times? Lets keep each other company while we wait.
And for those of you who’s feelings are still hurt about rejection letters, at least you weren’t rejected with a post it note.
2 thoughts on “Mythbuster: The “Good” Rejection Letter”
Ms. Bones, make sure you submit other stories to the journals that give you “good” rejections. If your work was close once, it might be exactly what they are looking for the next time.
Don’t worry, Professor Lawrence, they are totally on my permanent radar. I wrote that piece specifically for that journal, so now I just need to brainstorm a new idea for the next round of submissions :]