An Improved Rejection Letter
(Can be customized)
As most authors, and aspiring authors, know, it is standard procedure to send your manuscript to a publishing house (or agent) with a self-addressed, stamped envelope so that the manuscript– which they expect to reject– can be returned to you without their incurring any cost. Otherwise the manuscript lands in the wastebasket. Also, they do not want to waste time explaining to you why your manuscript is unsuitable, so they send along a thin piece of paper, a little bigger than you would find in a fortune cookie, printed in small letters which say: “Thank you for sending us your manuscript. However, we do not consider it suitable for our list. Good luck.” Since this little strip of paper is easy to miss, the manuscript may seem to have been returned without even this small consideration. Since the manuscript is sometimes inadvertently returned along with the original envelope, the writer may suspect that their work was not examined in the first place. He would be right.
Having received my share—perhaps more than my share—of these rejection notes, I designed a new rejection notice which asked the editors, or literary agents, to check off one or another box in order to, perhaps, communicate some useful information to me. This is a copy of that notice. Any author who wishes to customize this form for his own use is welcome to do so. (The references to a psychiatrist-detective can be changed to a cook-detective or a mechanic-detective or any other kind of detective—or, indeed, to any work of fiction at all, some examples of which, I know do not have any detective.)
I have to report that the next half dozen rejections I received returned my form unmarked along with the manuscript and a small piece of paper that said, “Thank you for sending us your manuscript. However, we do not consider it suitable for our list. Good Luck.” I have been considering changing the wording slightly and sending it off again, but I have decided to wait a while. Besides, since manuscripts are submitted electronically these days, they can be rejected without the cost of printing up the fortune-cookie note, and publishers will be even less motivated to fill out my form.