The panelists were: Ken Schrader, Joshua Bilmes, Diane Weinstein, Irette Y Patterson, and Scott Andrews
What’s Your Experience With Rejection Letters?
- Diane Weinstein: She wrote 1,000 rejection letters and never signed her name.
- Joshua Bilmes: As an agent, when he submits works he’s agenting to publishers, 98+% of the stuff he submits gets rejected.
- Scott Andrews: Writes and publishes a magazine, “Beneath Ceaseless Skies.” He considers it a point of pride to give a personalized rejection, because he knows he likes them himself. (Also, hopefully it cuts down on the number of Science-fiction submissions he gets for his fantasy themed magazine.)
- Irette Patterson: Has only been on the receiving end. But agrees that Scott writes great rejection letters.
- Ken Schrader: Agrees that personalized rejection letters are awesome.
Advice Upon Receiving Rejection Letters
- “Just don’t be a shit.” – Diane Weinstein quoting Connie Willis. Remember they’re not personal.
- Never argue with the rejection. – Scott Andrews
- Never argue that you should be able to do something, just because another author does. – Joshua Bilmes
- Just because you have a reason to do something ‘wrong’, doesn’t mean you should. – Joshua Bilmes
- If you get a personalized rejection letter, with useful advice–it is still NOT a “Revise and Resubmit” unless they specifically say so. – Diane Weinstein
“Rejections can seem arbitrary,” said Diane Weinstein.
“Life is arbitrary,” replied Joshua Bilmes.
Worst Rejection Letter
- A partial slip of paper, with the rejection form printed, then sliced to be mailed to all the rejectees. Not even a full page!
- Ken Schrader received a rejection letter signed [Designated Reader]. They didn’t even bother making sure their name was selected.
Ways to Recover After a Rejection
- Critique groups can be helpful – both in being supportive and getting you used to taking criticism
- You can post online for support – BUT! Be general: don’t name names or share quotes
- Send it out to another agent! Don’t just sit on it.
- If you get a personalized rejection letter, many (but not all) agents enjoy a thank you note. Keep it short and sweet, though.
- Ken Schrader had luck once asking, “What was it that [turned you off]?”, but don’t expect a response.
- As Douglas Adams says, “Don’t Panic!” Joshua Bilmes and his agents typically submit works they’re representing to 12-14 editors and usually only get one offer. Auctions are rare. Most stuff is rejected by more people than not.
Remember, agents reject a lot of competent stuff, the story needs the right spark on the right day – Diane Weinstein.