I’m going to veer a bit off topic on this one; my scathing grammar commentary can wait a few days.
For any of you who are writing and attempting to get work published out there, you might be familiar with rejections. Form, personal, or even an acceptance, these are all the possibilities you have when you send your work out. Though it doesn’t matter in the end, people like to know whether they’ve received a form or personal rejection letter. You’d think it was clear, but it’s not. There’s ambiguity in how personal some markets make their form rejection letters and not everyone can tell.
Now, I only started sending work out a few months ago, but I’ve received my share of rejection letters, though not necessarily a large variety. The typical form rejection letter looks something like this:
Your Typical Form Rejection Letter
These are short and sweet, clearly form and very bare bones. This is a nicer example, less blunt than some of them can be. Basically, literary magazines send these out in tens everyday.
Thank you for the opportunity to read “Your Story”. Unfortunately*, we’ve decided it wasn’t right for Our Magazine. Best of luck in placing this elsewhere.
* – I’ve found “unfortunately” to be a recurring term in a few of my own form rejections.
Your Confusing Form Rejection Letter
These are form rejection letters, but they always contain that last bit of information as a reason, a sort of reassurance to the reader that, though meant well, can confuse us to bits. I haven’t received too many of these, but I’ll try my best to recreate an accurate example.
Thanks for letting us read “Your Story”. We receive many submissions on a daily basis and are unable to accept as many stories as we would like. We hope you’ll consider submitting more work in the future.
Your Atypical Personal Rejection Letter
I’ve received a few personal rejections, which I welcome more than a form, although in the end, it’s still a no. Personal rejections aren’t typical, there’s not one way to do it, but here’s a vague sort of example.
Thank you for submitting “Your Story” for inclusion in Our Magazine. *We’ve read it carefully*, but have decided to pass on it. We enjoyed the flying octopus and the lost banana, but found that the story was not enough for us, overall. Best of luck in placing this elsewhere.
* – This is also a common phrase in form rejection letters. Remember, it’s only personal if they actually mention some detail from your work.
Your Typical “Tricked Ya!” Personal Rejection Letter
I don’t expect this to be something everyone can relate to. I felt the need to include it anyways as it’s happened to me.
Thank you for your submission. Formformform. We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, formformform. Form, best of luck, form.
That said, I did like the language here and the box of bribe chocolates you sent me. I hope to see more (chocolates) from you in the future.
I may have embellished it a little (I write stories, y’know), but this is essentially a rejection that I’ve received before. Nothing amazing, but it’s nice to get a little note inviting you to keep them in mind. It’s to say “hey, this wasn’t total rubbish” and I’ll take that if I can.
I will end this post on a positive note: In my experience, personal rejection letters have proved even more useful than acceptances. A quick “We’ll take it” doesn’t benefit your writing as much as a “We liked this, but this was not quite right.”. Keep collecting those rejections, and save them for a rainy writing day. That sounded cheesy… Anyways, they didn’t publish your work, but at least it left an impression on them. And if not, revise, revise and try again.
If you want to find out if your rejection letter was form or not or what tier, head over to the Rejection Wiki.