My writing group friends agree: there is such a thing as a “good” rejection letter.
As I have reported in the past (Boomerang), an unfortunately much-too-common rejection letter in the publishing industry is no rejection letter—no response at all, which has the result of making one feel like pond scum, or worse, invisible pond scum.
Far too much of the time when I send one of my essay-babies off to publishing-land, it vanishes with barely a whisper of the mouse button never to be heard from again. After a several weeks, I assume it dead, or at least terminally neglected.
Which brings us to a good rejection letter. The qualities of said precious item convey that one’s slaved-over words were a) actually read by a fellow human being b) admired in some stated way and c) deemed worthy of a few sentences of semi-thoughtful reply.
Here’s a lovely rejection I received the other day.
Thank you for sending “The Why Season.” I’m sorry to take so long to reply.
I enjoyed reading your essay and found it both funny and touching. However, I must report that we’ve decided to give it a pass, as we recently published an essay on a similar topic and don’t yet feel ready to revisit the subject. I wish you the best of luck placing this piece elsewhere.
Gee, isn’t that nice? Of course we should not overlook the fact that it’s a big fat no. But why dwell on that when we can bask in the weak filtered light of its approval? Sigh. I feel so warm and fuzzy inside.