161. The Reject Button

“No” can take many forms, as can be seen by sifting through the stack of rejection letters I’ve received from publishers over the years. Here are some actual quotes.

Ominous openings
• We regret to inform you …
• We appreciate your interest …
• Due to current commitments …
• Please forgive this form letter …
• It has been a joy over the years to see the many beautiful and unique expressions of God’s creativity that people from all over the world have shared with us …
• Dear writer …

But my name is Patrick
• Dear Jane …

The usual
• It’s not right for us.
• Your work has not been chosen for publication.
• It is not a book we could take on at the present time.
• In the end, it wasn’t something we felt strongly enough about.

At least they’re paying attention
• Thank you for submitting …
• Thank you once again for submitting …

The diplomatic approach
• I think it’s wonderful, but I don’t see how it would work in our hands.
• Our editorial board does not think we could do justice to your efforts.
• Though your ideas are very interesting, we feel we must pass on this.
• Although I love your dry sense of humor, I don’t think that this story is right for us.
• This is a delightful book that I don’t have a clue what to do with.
• I think you’ve got a fascinating idea here and one that could sell well if you can find the company that can sell such a thing.

How about something with mice?
• I really like the little mice, but we have had no success with rodents.

Deflection
• I’m sure by now you’ve made a deal elsewhere.
• We encourage you to continue submitting this package to other companies.
• I have no doubt you’ll find someone else to publish it.

A bit more direct
• We just didn’t find it catchy enough.
• I’m afraid I did not see the material clearly.
• I just didn’t respond emotionally to this story.
• Your submission was not considered particularly humorous by our personnel.
• I’m pretty quirky, and like a good laugh, but this is a bit strange, even to me.

And finally
A publishing exec named Roy Wandelmaier, while rejecting a proposal, asked if I’d like to create something his company had a lot of success with, a maze book. Maze•Mania and five titles that followed combined to sell over a million copies.

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