Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Congratulations! You have been rejected.

"Due to the vast number of submissions we receive, at this time we are unable to give an individualized response to every query..."

"Because we read so many stories, it is not possible for us to give specific feedback...."

So polite, so understandable. Yet to the hopeful author, it still parses to nothing more than, "Sorry. Your story sucked so hard we couldn't be bothered to pound out a few sentences explaining why."

Form rejections are a fact of life in the literary world, nowadays. The proverbial pipes of agents and publishers are so clogged with literary sewage it would be impossible to address all submissions - and all their various flaws - individually.

And yet, to the author in question, it's still annoying as hell. The perfect, delicate wordbaby you've spent months months in agonizing labor with...doesn't even warrant a tailor made rejection slip. Ouch.

And thats where Form Rejection comes in.

Send your query along with the first few pages (no more than 5 - chances are they won't all be read anyways) to (query in body of email, pages attached as .doc or .rtf) and your story or excerpt will be reviewed, processed, and in all likelihood, discarded.

You will not receive a contract deal, you will not be signed with a major agency. You will not receive a free line by line critique of your submitted pages.

You will not receive a gift basket filled with cookies and kittens and rainbows.

What you will receive is a lovingly-crafted, thoughtful, soul-crushing form rejection slip. Guaranteed. Everyone gets one. Don't care who you are, I'm not buying what you're selling (in fact I'm not buying anything).

Writers need to learn to deal with rejection. It's a fact of literary life. Your work will be rejected, far, far more often than it will be accepted. I'm simply doing you a favor by making it a foregone conclusion. Save you from getting your hopes up.

But, because I'm a thoughtful guy, attached to that rejection slip will be a custom tailored, honest response pointing out where I stopped reading, be it in the query (most likely) or the pages themselves (less likely), and a brief note as to why.

Your response, after you receive your delicious, hope inspiring rejection, might be something along the lines of, "I stopped reading (here) because I was really freaking bored," or "I stopped reading (here) because I felt your plot was poorly thought out and the characters didn't grab me."

Or you might get, "I stopped reading after the first word because I got a phone call and then I had to feed my cat and forgot about your submission. Form rejection."

I don't promise to be fair or nice or to cater to your ego; I guarantee nothing but honestly. One man's opinion about one small sample of your writing. It's meant, in part, to remind you that no single opinion of your writing is the end all be all of literary judgement. Certainly not mine.

But you ask, what if I can't find fault with your work? What if there are no holes to be punched in the plot, your characters pop off the page, and your writing is as tight something really tight? Well, you'll still get a form rejection. I'm a jerk like that. But if I truly feel you have written something exemplary, you'll be immortalized here on this page. I'll swallow my pride and post your excerpt - with your permission - for all to see, as an example of how to do a query properly.

Or more likely I'll make something up and crap on your dreams anyways. I'm a spiteful little bastard.

So there you have it, folks. Give me your stories and your hopes and I will give you grief and you will be stronger for it.


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