Monthly Archives: April 2014

Writing While… Part IV — writing while receiving rejections

Writing while receiving rejections

I am not going to pretend to come up with something original here. In fact, everything I’ve planned to say in this post had already been said in hundreds of other posts. Which is why I am no longer going to say those things.

Instead I am going to build a rejection wall and stare at it lovingly when I finally do land an agent, and a book deal, and a super-successful movie in which I’ll act, produce, cast, and be the one to receive an Oscar.

You’ll probably recognize some of the elements on this wall in which case you are welcome to stare at it lovingly too. Because you too at some point will get your book/story/brilliance published and feel sorry for all those who rejected you. And yes, I know, this is not a very healthy attitude to take but what the hell. I am allowed to make some unhealthy choices once in a while. It’s not only wheatgrass, tofu, and green tea life, is it?

In a truly Olympic spirit I will divide my rejection wall into three categories: bronze rejections, silver rejections, and gold rejections. What are the judging criteria, you ask? Just one. I am going with the “ouch, that hurts” standard and I am awarding gold to those whose rejections made me want to stop writing forever.


  • “…I thoroughly enjoyed reading your sample material but, … we didn’t feel that the writing of the prose itself was quite strong enough to be able to successfully place it with a publisher.”


  • “Unfortunately this is not right for us. We are replying as soon as possible to give you the best chance of finding the right agent. We specialize in commercial fiction and non-fiction tailor made for the mass market and therefore we have to be confident of substantial sales quantities before taking on a new project.”
  • “Thank you for sending us this material, which we have now read and considered. But we are sorry to say that your novel is not something we would feel 100% confident of being able to handle successfully.”
  • “We read your piece carefully, but unfortunately we have decided not to publish it.”
  • “Thank you for sending your work. We have decided against selecting your work, but we appreciate your interest in our magazine.”


  • “We’re sorry we don’t have better news–but thank you for sending us your work. While we enjoyed your writing, unfortunately, this submission isn’t for us. Do please consider sending more work to us again in the future.”
  • “While this particular submission is not quite what we’re looking for at the moment, please know I enjoyed reading it and was impressed by your writing. We receive a large number of submissions and unfortunately can only publish a small percentage of them. I wish you the best in placing this piece elsewhere and hope you’ll consider sending us more of your work in the future.”
  • “We have read your submission, and unfortunately we are not able to use it.  Please do not take this as a comment on the quality of your writing; we receive so many submissions that we are able to accept only a small fraction of them.”
  • “Unfortunately we have decided not to accept it. We wish you the best of luck finding a home for your story elsewhere.”
  • “Although we did enjoy looking at your material, in the end we felt it wasn’t quite right for us.”
  • “As a small agency we take on very few of the many writers who approach us each year and, having considered your work, we do not feel we could offer to add you to our list.”
  • “We’re sorry we can’t use … We have received a great deal of work by writers who will not be included in the final selection, but certainly deserve to have their voices heard in other publications.”
  • “Unfortunately, the piece is not quite a perfect fit for our upcoming issue, sort of like when you find a puzzle piece, and even though it’s like, the best puzzle piece ever, it doesn’t fit perfectly. Sort of an “it’s not you; it’s me” thing.”
  • “We’re going to pass on this one, but please send more in the future!”
  • “Unfortunately, this piece isn’t the right fit for us. Please consider us for future submissions.”
  • “Thanks so much for your query.  Unfortunately,  I’m afraid I’m not the right agent for this project.”

The good news is that I only got one gold winner… so far.

The bad news is that writing-while-receiving-rejections means writing this blog post instead of something else to submit.

See also:

Writing While Submitting (Part III)

Writing While Trilingual and While Not Being a Native Speaker (Part II)

Writing While Walking or While in the Pool or Any Other Body of Water (Part I)