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9 Alternatives to the Standard Form Rejection Letter


Rejection is a part of every writer’s life, but form rejection letters can be particularly dispiriting. Shouldn’t there be a better way? Here are a few possibilities that publications could consider:

9 things comic by Josh Quick

‘A ghost of your writing future visits you to explain…’ Illustration by Josh Quick

1. J.K. Rowling comes to your house to personally deliver the news. She comforts you by talking about all the rejections she got for the Harry Potter books before she sold them. Don’t worry if there are three-week-old dishes in your sink — she understands that real writers don’t have time to clean.

2. An artist renders an abstract image that indicates rejection, so you don’t have to read the disappointing words. When you receive it, you might not even know what it is.

3. A lotto number is included in your rejection email. You aren’t being published, but you could still get rich!

4. The publication you were submitting to doesn’t reject your work; instead, they submit it to another place they think could be a good fit.

5. Your rejection note is emailed to you inside an electronic card with a fortune cookie on the front. That way it feels more like fate, and less like a sign that you are an awful writer.

6. You hire a middlewoman to intercept your submission responses before they reach you. Instruct her to wait until at least one acceptance arrives before sharing a rejection with you, so that the good news can temper the bad. Hopefully you won’t be waiting for more than a year or two.

7. Your rejection is delivered to your door nestled in a box of treats. You may barely notice it as you nibble on long-stemmed chocolate-dipped strawberries.

8. Your rejection email is formatted such that it can also be printed out and folded into a tiny stylish box. Perfect for keeping other rejection notes in.

9. A ghost of your writing future visits you to explain that your submission was rejected this time, but that it’s for the best because that piece wasn’t quite ready anyway. Also, the ghost will promise that you will have at least one other thing accepted. At some point. In the future.

Note: The opinions expressed by guest bloggers at the Submittable blog are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Submittable.

Julie Vick bio picJulie Vick’s work has appeared in publications including McSweeney’s Internet TendencyBrevity’s blog, SalonThe Washington Post, and Brain, Child. She is an English Instructor at the University of Colorado Denver. You can read more of her work at julievick.com and follow her on twitter @vickjulie.

Julie Vick