The Personal Rejection: Backhanded Compliment of Publishing

While I freely admit to spending far too much time to pouting over the very detailed rejection letter I got for my first novel, I eventually took a look at it again. I knew I wasn’t going to resubmit to that publisher, so I read the advice with a more open, less angry mind. There were some criticisms with which I wholeheartedly disagreed (e.g., they wanted me to change it from first person narration to third person — and that wasn’t right for the story), but others I could take on board. So, I made the changes that made sense and went back to the drawing board. That led to that same book being traditionally published in both the US and the UK.

The rights on that book, “In The Eye of The Beholder,” have since reverted and I’ve self-published it. Still, the lesson remains with me: a detailed, personalized rejection letter is a gift. It’s okay to be upset that someone called your baby ugly. Once you get past that, take on the criticisms and use them to your advantage.

A Writer's Path

by John Briggs

There are two types of rejection letters – the dreaded form letter and the personal rejection letter. The former is just what it sounds like—the one that editors and agents send to dozens, if not hundreds of authors every year that says, with very little subtext, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

The personal letter, of course, says, with very little subtext, “We’re sorry, thanks, but no thanks.”

Actually, that’s a bit unfair to the personal rejection letter. Some are effusive in their praise. Gushing even. But for whatever reason, they can’t publish or represent your hard work.

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