Your best rejection

luriantimetraveler

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I’m in the early stages of trying to place a fantasy/folktale short story and my goal is to collect 10 rejections by December. Already been turned down from Clarkesworld (it really wouldn’t have been a good fit there), and sent it along to F&SF, expecting a quick kickback — instead I got a personalized rejection saying “close, keep us in mind for future stories” which honestly feels like a real win (even though it’s a rejection).

Do you have any rejections you’re especially proud of?
 

Ori Vandewalle

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I've only ever gotten form rejections. I had a story that Asimov's held on to for much longer than usual, which had me excited for a time. So I sent them an inquiry... and got back a form rejection. Alas.
 

RBKelly

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I’m in the early stages of trying to place a fantasy/folktale short story and my goal is to collect 10 rejections by December. Already been turned down from Clarkesworld (it really wouldn’t have been a good fit there), and sent it along to F&SF, expecting a quick kickback — instead I got a personalized rejection saying “close, keep us in mind for future stories” which honestly feels like a real win (even though it’s a rejection).

Do you have any rejections you’re especially proud of?
I don't know if this counts, but many moons ago I got a request for a full MS from basically my dream agent. (I won't name the agency here, but they're HUGE.) I was thrilled; could hardly believe it. Sent off my full MS...

... And I never heard from her again! Not so much as "Clear off, I hate your work, never darken my door again." She ignored all my gentle follow ups until I finally gave up!

Still requested a full, though :)

Good luck placing your story! That's a really really positive rejection!
 

luriantimetraveler

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I don't know if this counts, but many moons ago I got a request for a full MS from basically my dream agent. (I won't name the agency here, but they're HUGE.) I was thrilled; could hardly believe it. Sent off my full MS...

... And I never heard from her again! Not so much as "Clear off, I hate your work, never darken my door again." She ignored all my gentle follow ups until I finally gave up!

Still requested a full, though :)

Good luck placing your story! That's a really really positive rejection!
That's a great rejection story! :)
 

alexvss

Just a Latin American Lad.
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Dec 9, 2020
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I have a love-hate relationship with rejection.

There were times when I smiled after being rejected and responded it with another submission. There were other times when I progessively deppresed and, finally, burnt out. Fun fact: I joined SFF Chronicles when I was suffering from Burnout Syndrome caused by rejection. Thank the Lord I learned how to cope with it.

The story I want to share is from last year. Back when CC. Finlay was the editor for F&SF, I got rejected thirteen times (if I recall correctly). Finlay reportedly had two boilerplates for rejection letters: "it didn't quite grab me" and "it didn't win me over". If you got the latter, the editor didn't like the beginning of your story and dropped it. The second one means that he read all the way through, but ultimately decided not to buy the story, probably because he thought the ending wasn't strong enough. If you got this last one, you're a pro. He said so himself.

I got two of those.

Recently, one of those stories, after receiving a lot of personal, almost-there rejections, got published by a smaller venue. I plan on selling it as a reprint as soon as the rights revert back to me.

PS: This post remembered of a Youtube video that helped me go through rejections:

 

luriantimetraveler

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Isn't the idea to get published, rather than rejected?

As others have said, rejection is part of finally being accepted! And ideas are cheap!

And! This is not big in the grand scheme of life, but big enough for a new writer: Publishing is a means to an end, which is to be read. And that personal/higher tier rejection meant that I had at least one reader (a respected editor) who finished my piece when she didn't have to, thought about it, and didn't think it was bad (just not the right fit). That's a win to me!
 

Dan Jones

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Rejection is always tough, but once you've worn a couple of scars then very quickly it becomes clear that rejections are just part of the game, and once you realise that they are like water off a duck's back. Occasionally you get a personalised one, which is nice, and very occasionally you get a fantastic one.

I got a fabulous personalised email from one of my top targetted agents after they'd requested and read the full MS for my last novel. In fact it was so good that I didn't know what to do afterwards, as I thought, "well if I get a response that good, and it's still a no, what the hell do I have to do to get a yes?"

And after much thinking, I came to the answer.

Keep going.
 
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Steve Harrison

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Not the best and not from a publisher, but my favourite rejection was for an absolutely brilliant comedy feature screenplay I decided would suit a particular A List Hollywood producer. It took me a year to get direct email details via screenwriting friends of friends of friends, but I finally did it and the guy actually read it. I got a short email from him saying, "there are no laughs in this script."
 

Phyrebrat

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Not the best and not from a publisher, but my favourite rejection was for an absolutely brilliant comedy feature screenplay I decided would suit a particular A List Hollywood producer. It took me a year to get direct email details via screenwriting friends of friends of friends, but I finally did it and the guy actually read it. I got a short email from him saying, "there are no laughs in this script."
I often wonder what the imperative is for those in the industry who’ve been successful to be such <beep>holes. Yes they’re busy, yes they have their finger on the pulse, but by god these kind of aloof responses feed into that elitist culture I despise. Good for you for taking as a positive :)
 

Steve Harrison

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I often wonder what the imperative is for those in the industry who’ve been successful to be such <beep>holes. Yes they’re busy, yes they have their finger on the pulse, but by god these kind of aloof responses feed into that elitist culture I despise. Good for you for taking as a positive :)
I know what you mean, but after decades of writing I'm philosophical about queries. And I'd rather a blunt, memorable response like that one than no reply at all (the result of most queries) or a standard 'not for us' email.
 

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