Libby Grandy

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Writing Articles

Treasure Those Good Rejection Letters

Published:  Writers’ Journal July/August 2010


Is there such a thing as a good rejection letter?  You bet there is.  Some agents and publishers get 400 or more queries a week.  If they have taken the time to write a few positive sentences back to you, trust me, you’ve done something right. 


I recently received such a letter from an editor of a magazine that has published a few of my articles.  He explained why they were not going to run my piece but said that it was well written and commented favorably on my website that he had taken the time to pull up.  I understood the editor’s reasoning and appreciated those magic words, well written.


Do you think I was depressed because they weren’t going to publish my article?  Well, maybe a little disappointed, but overall, his comments motivated me to keep on writing and marketing.


At one of my critique group meetings, I espoused the above opinions and in the background, I heard one member mutter, “but it’s still a rejection.”  It made me sad, because if a writer can’t get beyond the word—rejection—marketing can be a disempowering venture.  (I’m aware that there is no such word as disempowering, but there should be.)


I believe writers should replace the word, rejection, with the more accurate word, response.  An agent or editor considers a query or proposal, makes a decision and responds to the writer.  Even when they can’t respond positively, they often like what they read enough to take the time to encourage the writer to continue marketing their work.


I once got a personal letter from an agent stating that she wouldn’t be able to take me on as a client, however, she said,  “Many thanks for your fine excerpt from your compelling novel which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.  You are clearly a writer of ability.”  If it sounds like I memorized her words, you’re right.  Letters like this are invaluable, if you look at them through a positive lens. 

Writers who market on a regular basis understand that negative responses are simply a part of the process and don’t take them personally.  They know that there are many reasons why an article or manuscript is not accepted and that none of them necessarily reflect negatively on the writer—that perseverance is the key to success.  They track their responses and move on.


Publishing is going through the same economic downward spiral as the rest of the world which means writers may be receiving even more negative responses.  Should we postpone marketing our work?  An economic turnaround is undoubtedly years off, so that probably isn’t a good option.  Magazines will still publish articles, however.  Books will continue to be published.  Why not yours?


When you market your work, treasure any encouraging words.  File them away; memorize them.  Focus on the fact that someone values what you do and believes that you do it well. 


Is that rejection?  I don’t think so.