The Kindest Rejection of All

Having sent out 8 queries so far (most of which I emailed only two days ago), and receiving two kind form rejections and one glorious request for my full manuscript, I am in that most uncomfortable state as a writer: awaiting judgment.

I know, I know…I need to put those thoughts aside and get on with my next WIP. And I will. I simply need a few days to breathe.

In the meantime, I lie awake at nights, my mind grasping for the next big idea (because the one I had now seems too daunting), fiddling around with fantasies of success, and worrying over whether I’ve done everything I could to be prepared for the best…or the worst.

I don’t envy agents and I know they really do want to find treasures among all the queries they receive. I’m convinced of this because they usually lay it all out so plainly for us. They tell us upfront what they’re interested in, and they often bend over backwards to give us clues (in blogs, interviews, appearances at writers conferences, etc.) to the kinds of queries that turn them off and the kinds that catch their attention.

Still, they have to write so many rejection letters that they’ve had to come up with form rejection letters for use in most cases. Even those form rejection letters ooze with remorse. I think they really do feel our pain.

I can’t recall where I came across this some years ago, but I call it the “kindest” rejection letter I’ve ever read. It was supposedly from a Chinese magazine (which makes all kinds of sense, because Asians are more concerned with saving face–either their own or another’s–than being honest):

We have read your manuscript with boundless delight. If we were to publish your paper, it would be impossible for us to publish any work of a lower standard. And as it is unthinkable that, in the next thousand years, we shall see its equal, we are, to our regret, compelled to return your divine composition, and to beg you a thousand times to overlook our shortsightedness and timidity.

Maybe we should all move to China.

Originally posted 2010-07-07 09:57:36.

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15 thoughts on “The Kindest Rejection of All

  1. LOVE that! Why can’t all rejection notices be like that? And wonderful post, Tanya. Congrats on getting a request for the full ms, too! Yippee!

    • Thanks, Erin. Actually, it’s probably a good thing that all rejection notices aren’t so flattering. As one of my friends said, “I think the best rejection would be one that actually told you what they didn’t like. I’d much rather be told, ‘Hey, you just aren’t there. Your plot is mundane, and you can’t spell.'”

      Of course, Americans always want it straight. (Though several body blows in a row might put a dent in our quest for honesty.)

    • I have that Chinese rejection letter posted on the side of my bookshelf behind me. It helps every now and then to turn around and read it. Keeping my fingers crossed for you.

  2. Great post! I feel your pain—rather keenly right now, as I, too, am awaiting judgement. Good luck and congratulations on the full request.

  3. Wow. The form rejection I received wasn’t as flattering, but it was still very kind. Took the fear and sting out of the whole ordeal. Of course I haven’t sent out any more queries, but I only did so in the first place at the prodding of loving and well intending family members. Maybe I’ll venture out there again soon. :) Meanwhile I’ll be cheering for you Tanya!

    • Thanks Karen. I really took my time on this one and, even then, I felt like there were still more changes I could make…but you know, at a certain point, you need to stop tinkering around the edges and let it fly.

    • Thanks Valerie. I probably won’t hear for a while. The agent’s blog seems to indicate they’re backed up a bit.

  4. They do have a way with words! I, on the other hand want to know exactly why I am being turned down, but with an encouragement on what I did correctly, if anything.

  5. Congrats on getting a request for a full MS! I will keep my fingers crossed for you.

    • Thanks, Susan. I can use all the prayers and crossed fingers I can get. And I’ll do the same for you when you need it.

  6. I’ve been out of town, so am just getting caught up on email–congrats on the request for your full! Still, I’m not surprised. Your book is amazing.

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