Monday, September 8, 2008

Rejection letter, what art thou?


Alright, I never post rejection letters. I prefer to file them away...but this one has me scratching my head. The more I read it, themore I'm not sure what it is. Is it a rejection politely worded and pointing things out to cut any argument before it can grow? Is it a letter intending for me to rewrite and resubmit the piece? Is it an "almost, let's see what you can do" letter? Or is it just letting me down gently.

Normally I can pick these out on my own, but the more I read this one the more confused I become over what it is and what was intended. I've sent an e-mail out politely asking for clarification, but to be honest the editors are probably very busy and the only email I have is the submission email. I'm thinking rejection, but if I don't get a definite, firm confirmation by tomorrow night I think I'll flash a query over to the other editor's email to see if I'm right. That is, if none of you think I shouldn't.

Anyhow, the letter is below. It's the rejection, I think, for "Ain't Gonna Dig No More", which I sent a half-proofed manuscript of off. I know, beat me with noodles. I was juggling my kids when I submitted it...quite literally, as we were thinking Des would go into labor the night I sent it off and was understandably shaken a bit.

Dear J. C. Tabler:

Thanks for your interest in the Potter's Field anthology, and for submitting a unique story for my consideration. While I quite enjoyed this tall tale, I do believe it needs considerable work so that it will be the best it can be upon publication.

I rest my case, by pointing out just a few of the errors within:

(Insert a few examples of my horrendous proofing)

The above are just a few of the sentences that require work. This story is worth the effort it would take to go over the entire manuscript. Take the time. Ain't Gonna Dig No More has the makings of a great story.


I should mention that the examples given were all grammatical/typos. No mention of the story or writing style itself. Just...typos and grammar.

What do you folks think? I confuses me.

C'mon, let me have it.

-J.C. Tabler


Natalie L. Sin said...

Beats me. It sounds like a rewrite request, almost, but not quite.

J.C. Tabler said...

Nice to know I'm not the only one stumped by this. I mean, I appreciate the kind words, they're very uplifting...but I don't know whether to send them my final draft rewrite when I finish it tonight, or bang my head against the wall for rushing the first time and heading off to find another market...anybody know Miss Buburuz personally that they can ask her?

Michael Stone said...

Sorry, mate, but that's a rejection, albeit a muddled one. I'm 100% sure of it.

J.C. Tabler said...

At least I'm not the only one who felt it was muddled. No need to be sorry on this one, I've got the constant opinion that rejections are like nails to the carpenter...pointy and necessary.

Felicity Dowker said...

It's a rejection, but it's an open ended one. I see no harm in replying querying whether they'd be willing to look at the piece once you've reworked it. If they say no, then you know exactly where you stand. If they say yes, well, great!

Good luck. The story sounds intriguing. :o)

Jeremy Kelly said...

Y'know, personally, I'd go for it. The worst thing that could happen is that you were politely mistaken.

But I can see why Mr. Stone would completely nail it as a rejection - because if they wanted a second look with revisions, they would specifically ask for it.

But, they did seem to thoroughly enjoy the story...

J.C. Tabler said...

I still prefer the rejection that has that much feared, much maligned line in it : "We've decided not to..."

I know people read that and yell "FORM!", but I've had more than a few with that line, but then go on to be personal rejections with critiques, comments, or suggestions on the piece that are specific. I believe that one line, very quickly, lets the writer know where they stand without hesitation on the work they've submitted.

I've yet to receive a poor rejection, and get more personal ones than form rejections. Small point of pride, but a point of pride nonetheless. So much so that I've made it into a habit to respond to the rejection with a short, polite "thank you for considering the piece, and I appreciate your time" form letter I keep for rejections.

I figure editors get yelled at enough by the pompous, budding diva writers over rejections. They don't need my heft country rear tossing into the mix on it.

Anyhow, I'm going to send off a quick query following the enigmatic Ms. Dowker's suggestion, but at the same time I'm doing the fourth (and final) read through for revision purposes tonight after work, and plan on subbing it elsewhere. If there's anyone out there willing to do me a solid and proof it before I send that last sub out...well...I'd appreciate it. Lot of work on this one, mainly correcting my own rushed work.

Jamie Eyberg said...

I am going to default to Felicity on this one. I don't think that they would mind getting a cleaner version of the story but they are not going to commit to you either. I'd clean it up and try again. The worst they will say is 'no, you've already sent this to us and we've already rejected you.'

Michael Stone said...

Despite nailing it as a rejection, I can't see any harm in approaching them and asking if they'd like to see a revised version. And if you'd like a fresh pair of eyes (well, one eye actually) to have a look at it, you have my email addy.

Jeremy Kelly said...

I'd be happy to take a look at it, J.C.

Send it on over to

Catherine J Gardner said...

Yep, that would have confused me a wee bit too.

I received the below comment in my rejection from Potter's Field:
Even though I've declined the chance to publish...

:( I've probably just confused you even more now.

Carrie Harris said...

Yeah, why not try again? At the least, you know they enjoyed the idea, and the problems seem fixable.

I consider it an accomplishment any time I get a letter from an editor that doesn't use the words "you hack" in it. :)

Barry Napier said...

Sounds like they enjoyed the idea but were spooked by the smaller things like the proofing.

Hey, don't rejection from them was a simple "Thanks, but no thanks."