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How To Get The Rejection Letter You Deserve

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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.

Regards,

Greg Levin
“Writer” TC mark

image – gruntzooki

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    • Asdf

      I don’t know. I find that submitting the same story every hour of every day gets me a pretty formal rejection letter in the form of a cease and desist and, if I’m *really* lucky, a restraining order on the part of the publisher. 

      Those give me warm fuzzies and validate my existence in such a way that makes me want to continue writing.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

        SO YOU’RE THE PRICK THAT KEEPS SENDING ME THE SAME SHIT ABOUT WALRUSES IN A DINER ORDERING HAMBURGERS MEDIUM RARE.

        • Asdf

          I am. And I believe the fact that you initiated contact with me violates the terms of your restraining order. I will re-add you to my mailing list.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry that you’re bitter, but it’s not our job to boost your self esteem, dude. 

      • reverser

        um, satire.

      • Greg Levin

        Perhaps you should read more carefully, “dudette” — my novel is being published. I was just tossing this out there as a piece of comic relief for frustrated writers, which, judging by your tone, you most certainly are.

        • Anonymous

          I’ve received some pretty crazy responses to my rejection letters (which is part of my job!) so I’m a little sensitive in this area. On first read I felt defensive, on second read I realized it was funny. Sorry to come out the bag at ‘cha

      • Random

        you’re one smart cookie, aren’t you?

        • Asdf

          A crumble off the ol’ chocolate chip.

      • Anonymous

        K, I TAKE IT BACK. lol

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

          NO. ‘lol’ DOES NOT FIX THIS.

    • Disneyzilla

      ASDF, that reply had me chuckling in my office.  Quite an accomplishment given my sour state of mind about publishing in general.

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