Literary agents and publishers receive so many queries and submissions from writers these days, most have stopped sending out even the shortest, most impersonal written rejection notices.
Before lucking out and finding a publisher for my debut novel a couple months ago, I considered a formal rejection letter to be a significant victory. To not be fully ignored by the literary powers that be is positively enthralling and life affirming. Knowing that an agent or publisher cares enough to take the time to inform you personally that there is no way in hell they’ll be requesting additional pages or accepting your novel is no doubt cause for celebration.
To help you in your endeavors to get rejected properly, I’m providing the “rejection query letter” I used to (pretend) to send out to agencies. Use it as a guide, or copy it nearly word for word, and I assure you that your mailbox and/or inbox will soon be full of “thank you, but no” notifications from some of the most important people in the publishing world.
Dear Literary Agent,
I am contacting you today to see if you might consider my attached manuscript as being worthy of a formal rejection from your fine agency.
I realize that hundreds upon hundreds of unsolicited works come across your desk or enter your inbox each month, and that you couldn’t possibly take the time to provide each author with an official rejection notice. However, I think that once you read the clever title and first two finely crafted sentences of my tragicomic novel before tossing it into the bin, you will agree that my work cannot be completely overlooked and indeed deserves to be spurned in writing.
Naturally, my dream is that my literary prowess will compel you – or at least the intern who brings you coffee – to send me a personalized rejection note that includes the full title of my book. However, I realize that such an honor is typically reserved only for writers on their second or third novel and suicide attempt. Therefore, I would be more than happy to simply receive from you a standard form rejection letter printed out crookedly on the thinnest office paper available.
I will fully understand if you decide to pretend that you never received this query and submission. I can only imagine how busy you must be perfecting ways to help aspiring novelists and poets develop severe self-esteem issues and question the meaning of their existence. I certainly don’t want to take too much of your time and inadvertently hinder your ability to single-handedly extinguish the flames of countless creative minds.
If you feel strongly that my work does not merit a single iota of your attention – let alone a full rejection notice – all I ask is that you at least not intentionally spit or excrete on my manuscript prior to incinerating it. At the risk of sounding pompous, I do think I deserve that much respect.
Thank you very much in advance for not hiring an assassin to ensure that I never submit any of my literary work to you again.