19 January 2014

Personalized Rejections vs. Form Letter Rejections

This morning I woke up to a rejection letter.

It started out like this -

"Dear NP,

I hope you won't mind if I give you a pointer or two in rejecting your poem. My aim is to help."

The letter goes on to say I need to show, not tell. To read more. To get critiqued. To send more than just a single poem to an editor.

I read somewhere once that personalized rejections can be a good thing.

Somehow I'm not sure.

Personalized rejections are cruel. Form letter rejections don't examine you so closely.

This hurt me more because of how much I pored over this single 18 line poem. Perfecting it. Giving the right imagery. Like sculpting or painting. Except with words.

It just didn't seem right to receive something that shredded me to pieces like this rejection did. So knowing I had two copies of the same poem (one, a first draft; the other, many drafts later), I decided to take a look at what I sent...

I sent him a first draft.

After spending hours and hours pouring over this poem, only to send off my first draft.

I was relieved at first. I told myself this rejection wasn't for me. It was for a draft I never would've sent in the first place.

Initially, the wound from rejection faded. A few hours later though, I am troubled by it.

Not sure why. I did learn a few things -

1) Send several poems to a literal magazine instead of one (somehow I didn't think this was that important at first).

2) Always delete your first draft.

3) Double check every attachment you send out.

4) Rejection sucks. And to me, it's the hardest part of being a writer. And remember, it happens to all of us.

Oh well, time to pick myself up, brush myself off, and write again. It's what we always do, isn't it?


  1. how true it is, but in a way I suppose you can laugh about it since it was a draft. PS... I'd love to add you to my list of writers for the next month's series. I know you and think that this might help the sting a bit (because next time will be better.)

    1. I'd love that Rebecca! Thank you! It will help a lot. I definitely think the next time will be better...even with a rejection letter not meant for me, I will learn from it. :)

  2. Nicole, I think in the end it really all boils down to taste. It isn't that your writing is bad, it just wasn't to this editor's particular taste. I agree with Rebecca. It was a draft, not a finalized version.
    I don't take rejection very well, which is why I never submit anything. You have more courage than I do!

  3. Hey, you got a personalized rejection letter on a draft. That has to mean something. :) I've sent a draft form before as well - a whole novel of it - by accident. Definitely a solid learning experience.

  4. I'd consider myself lucky if I got a personalized rejection. If I'd gotten any response at all, it's very generic. Either "It isn't strong enough" or "It wasn't the right fit for our agency" or the client list is crowded. The most personal rejection I ever got was "After giving careful consideration to your query, I'm afraid I was just not hooked enough to want to ask for more."
    For once, I would like a rejection that gives me suggestions on how to improve, what was wrong with my query or my book that compelled you not to represent me. Because if you don't hear what you're doing wrong, how can you improve your chances?


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