Oh, Yeah? Well, I Reject your Rejection Letter!

Having become something of an expert in receiving rejection letters–some may even say a connaisseur–I have often wished I could respond with something like this.

I wonder how many of you writers out there are as nerdy as I am about keeping track of e-zine and journal rejections? For instance, my short-story spreadsheet says that since 2015, I've made 702 submissions, with 24 resulting in acceptance for publication.

Of the 678 unsuccessful submissions, about one quarter of those just disappeared into the void, never to be heard from again. The other three quarters got a rejection letter. Almost always a form letter. And so, as you might imagine, I have become something of an expert in these letters--one may even say a connaisseur. Though by no means a fan. Indeed, I've often wished I could respond with something like this:

Dear Editor:

Thank you for your recent rejection letter. I apologize for the form response, but I receive many more rejection letters than I can personally respond to. Please know that the time you took to hit the send button is appreciated. A quarter of the editors rejecting submissions don't even make that effort.

However, we must respectfully decline your rejection at this time. Please do not take this personally--many well crafted rejection letters are received here, and we only have a finite amount of patience. In case you find it helpful, one of our staff had this observation about your letter :

Your use of the word “unfortunately” implies that luck or chance plays a role in your selection process. Even if that sorry admission were true, it's probably not be something you want to advertise to your contributors.

We hope that you find this feedback useful, and we encourage you to consider sending us other letters in the future. 

Best of luck to you,


But of course, I'm never going to send this out to anyone--burning your bridges, and all that. Which is too bad, because, as everyone who has ever gone through a bitter break-up can attest, a little bit of snark can be a wonderful balm for the sting of rejection.

19+ Comments


Love it. Wish I could send that letter. But I bite my lip.

Jun-24 at 01:47


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Jun-24 at 07:27


Now I really want to receive a rejection letter, just so I can send that back…

Jun-24 at 08:57


Send it back graded…

Jun-24 at 08:59


This is epic. Now I want to make submissions just so I can send this.

I’m self-published. Don’t care about burning bridges. :smiley:

Jun-24 at 12:03


Spot on!

Jun-24 at 12:08


I’m going to buck the trend here. I don’t why people have an issue with form rejection letters (though I freely admit I haven’t received as many as the OP and I don’t write short stories anyway).
Essentially their inboxes are being inundated by unsolicited junk of varying quality at higher levels than spam. To find the odd gem amongst the garbage they must sift through the rubbish and also-ran which, judging by some of the efforts that turn up on CC, will grate on their nerves.

Form letters stop them firing off spontaneous responses at the end of a long day which read along the lines of ‘WTF? Tell your mother that no, this isn’t a stunning example of a story which deserves the Nobel prize for literature. In fact, it barely makes a tolerable substitute for when we ran out of toilet paper during Covid lockdown.’

Note, my comments are generalised only. I haven’t read the OP’s stories and my comments in no way reflect the quality of their writing style or story, which is obviously higher than the average because they have indeed succeeded in publication even if not every time.

Jun-24 at 12:26


This made me smile. :rofl:

Jun-24 at 12:44


I’m with Wendyg on this. Magazines receive torrents of stuff, far more than they can publish, and having a form reply button gives editors more time to do other stuff. Sometimes they send replies encouraging the rejected author to try again. I have even had customised critical comment on a rejected story.

Jun-24 at 14:21


While you’re correct, I don’t think the OP is advocating for authors to actually send out such replies to publishers who’ve rejected them. It’s just a post that uses humor to ease the sting that comes with rejection. It’s a healthy attitude, IMO.

Like the OP, and most folks here, I’m very well acquainted with rejections—some of them were personalized, and not in an encouraging way… more in a ‘please don’t send us any more of your crap’ kind of way. Sometimes, the fantasy of sending them back a letter that’s like, “Oh, yeah? Well, I didn’t wanna be published in your dumb magazine anyway!” is cathartic. Having a sense of humor about the whole thing and joking about sending such letters can ease the sting too! It’s like that old tip about writing a letter to someone who wronged you, then burning it before anyone reads it. It really does help!

Jun-24 at 14:40


This reminds me of the college applicant’s rejection of the rejection letter. :rofl:

Jun-24 at 14:47


I agree, I don’t think the OP is advocation for it, but it does surprisingly happen. In fact, years ago a member of CC sent something very similar to this after he got a rejection from a literary magazine. He posted his “response” in the forums to show us all how clever he thought he was. He didn’t get the reaction from us that he thought he’d get.

And yeah, I gotta go with @Wendyg and @Jeff65. While I know this is tongue in cheek and meant to be lighthearted, I think editors and agents get a bad rap, and this kinda thing just adds to it. Truth is, editors and agents read submissions and queries whenever and wherever they can. Think of it as their side-gig, because their main job is to work on what they already have in front of them.

They’re juggling a lot of different aspects of their jobs, and usually working long hours to get it done. I’m always happy they took the time to send a rejection of any sort. Many don’t even send form rejections anymore.

Jun-24 at 14:53


I don’t think it is a big deal even if an author sent it. Editors/agents are busy people so they can send form letters, and writers are… what? Too idle to use form letters? We are a community of writers. We don’t respect ourselves?

It’s doing no harm. If the editor has a sense of humor, they might get a quick free chuckle in an otherwise hectic job. If they are too thin-skinned for something as harmless as this, I guess there isn’t a big loss in burning that bridge. Who knows, maybe being quirky will make them remember you the next time you send something.

I don’t think it is that big an issue, even if all of us send such letters forever after, every time. At best, it will become a bad forward if they get spammed right back.

Jun-24 at 16:51


You said above that you’re self published, and you’ve never submitted anything to an agent or editor.

Have you ever spoken with an agent of editor? Do you have any idea what their workload is and what their inboxes already look like? 100’s to 1000’s of queries or submissions a year. It has nothing to do with “thin skin” and everything to do with them not having the time to read queries and submission as it is, let alone if writers started clogging up their inboxes thinking they’re being cute.

It’s actually one of several reasons agents and editors don’t respond at all these days. They don’t want to do anything that encourages a dialogue… because they’ve had this happened to them. And yes, they will remember you. But not fondly.

But there’s no reason to continue this discussion. The OP wrote the blog as a joke, and it was funny.

PS A response to a submission isn’t spam

Jun-24 at 18:04


I am self-published. I never said I’ve never submitted anything (just that I didn’t wait for replies to self-publish my fiction book)

Yes, though admittedly, most of it was commissioned/they already knew me, so it wasn’t cold calls.

It’s a paid job. They are expected to act like professionals. I don’t know any editor who’d throw a fit over getting that, but then I don’t know a lot of fiction editors. Maybe professional expectations don’t apply. But more importantly, that reply has an excellent tone and the humour is relevant to their profession. If they can’t get it when it is staring straight in their face, they aren’t clever enough with words and them selecting you isn’t going to do miracles for your career.

Out of curiosity, why are you so protective about the rights of people not you to send form letters to people like you with so much coddling of their feelings? If they are overworked, that’s between them and their employer. If a writer feels pissed off over form letters, and they want to retaliate with humour rather than an angry rant, sorry, I’m on the side of the writer.

Worth mentioning, if you think fiction editors have a workload, try newsrooms. They still have to act professional.

Jun-24 at 18:13


Agents work solely on commission

I know how much you love to argue, I’ve seen you do it over and over and over again. And you obviously don’t know anything about the industry when it comes to traditional publishing. I’m not going to further this discussion and hijack the blog and thread.

Jun-24 at 18:18


Who do you consider a good editor? I’ll have them asked.

My logic is different from this place. When a humorous letter gets evaluated as in bad taste, the thread is already hijacked. When you further don’t consider the actual letter and that it’s written in a way most sane people wouldn’t find offensive, you’re undermining the OP.

I fail to see how saying the ORIGINAL POST IS FINE is a hijack, but then arguing is a sin here. Making sense is optional.

Jun-24 at 18:19


I should probably go on the record as recognizing that publishers, readers of slush piles, and even subscribers to literary magazines are for the most part amazing, marvelous people… and possibly morally superior to me. At least, the world would be a bleaker place if none of them ever rose past my level of self-indulgent egocentricity.

I wrote this piece on a whim, and when our administrator, Nonnib, put out a call for blog posts, I submitted it with the sole hope that a few fellow rejectees might get a chuckle out of it.

Jun-24 at 18:22


Maybe I havent had enough rejections yet to see the point of this blog

Jun-24 at 18:26
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