I know it’s inevitable. You are not going to be able to accept everyone’s work. Sometimes you even kind of like the work, but you’re in a competitive business and you’re a professional. And, sometimes the work just sucks and you’d rather pour rubbing alcohol in your eyes than read one more sentence.
But there are good rejection letters and bad rejection letters. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but writers tend to be sensitive people. Some mornings, there is something about the way the sunlight is flooding the room, the way it hits the grain of the wood floor just so, that overwhelms them, moves them, makes them want to weep. This, all is before they’ve gotten out of bed.
So you might want to think about how you phrase things. For example:
- Dear Maria, Thank you for querying me about your manuscript, XXX XXX. I’ve read your sample pages and I’m sorry to say that the project just isn’t a perfect fit with my current needs. This has less to do with your strengths as a writer and more to do with my goals as an agent and the trends of the current literary marketplace.
This is good. And this:
- Dear Ms. Polonchek, Thank you for your query about XXX XXX. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that the XX XX Literary Agency will not be able to represent you on this project. I thank you for the opportunity to consider your proposal and wish you the best of luck in your quest to find a publisher.
No problem. And this:
- Dear Ms. Polonchek, Thank you for sending me your query. Unfortunately, you have come to us at a time when we are inundated with requests for assistance and representation. The need to allocate our time effectively forces us to decline participation in many worthy projects, and I regret that must be the decision in this case as well. I do appreciate your thinking of us, and wish you the best of luck with your book.
Fine. Whatever. But this?
- Ms. Polonchek, I’ve considered your manuscript XXX XXX. While I find your writing intelligent and fluid, ultimately it was not compelling enough for me to want to continue reading.
Ummm…I feel like a simple “no thanks” would do the trick. That way, I wouldn’t have this tiny sewing needle jabbing me in the diaphragm every time I recall those words.
Sincerely, Best Regards, Good Luck, Merry Christmas, kiss my ass, kiss his ass, kiss your ass. Happy Hanukkah.