About Me

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Bucks County, PA, United States
In addition to her award-winning young adult fiction, Diana Muñoz Stewart runs her own company providing content for websites and blogs on health, writing, and family. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Rowan University and a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast, University of Southern Maine. When she’s not writing, she can be found kayaking in her backyard or hiking with her kids and the man who’s made her heart race and palms sweat since their devoted teen years.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Rejection Short Circuit

As an author submitting a novel and having it rejected is par for the course. But there are some notable rejections that feel more personal. The kind of rejection that hits a writer where he or she lives. The one I received in my email yesterday is just such a letter.

The rejection letter was from a well-known agency. No big deal, except that they had Cc’d 237 other writers. It was a simultaneous rejection. Yeah, people, it’s multitasking at its best or what I like to think of as killing 238 writers with one stone. I instantly received a disregard the rejection letter, because someone at the agency had realized they’d used the Cc function not the Bcc function. Ah, well, we’re all human, and I'm sure the person who sent the email is not having her best day. I must, however, point out the ironic rejection letter phrasing, “We pride ourselves on treating every aspiring writer as an individual worthy of our undivided attention.” 

Of course, writers are nothing if not resilient, so my fellow writers, starting with one ingenious man, began to take back our individuality. It started with this reworking of our simultaneous rejection:

Dear 1 of 238 Authors I have to mail a standard reply to,

Thank you for your submission to ______and for your patience as we considered your query on its individual merits.  I regret to inform you that we will not pursue representation.  While your work certainly has merit, it simply isn’t right for our list, nor are any of the 237 other queries we are responding to. 

Please don't be discouraged.  This decision does not comment on the salability of your work, but rather on our present needs and time restraints.  I urge you to seek another opinion if you have not already done so.  Good luck finding the right home for your work, and thank you for thinking of______. We pride ourselves on treating every aspiring writer as an individual worthy of our undivided attention.

I wish you success in finding representation as I know you will wish me success in learning how to use the bcc function in my e-mail.

That started a flurry of humorous emails, including one that suggested we form our own agency called the 238. Yeah, it’s catchy. 

And this one directed toward those in our group rejected multiple times on that one query: 
1.    Sorry—you’re rejected.
2.   I said you didn’t make the cut!
3.   DIDN’T YOU HEAR ME? I SAID NO! 

That one made me snort my orange juice. And how great is this reworked Tennyson poem:
Cheers to the Noble two hundred thirty eight!
"Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Rejection emails
Rode the two hundred thirty eight.
'Forward, the Writing Brigade!
Charge for the publishing houses!' he said:
Into the valley of Rejection emails
Rode the two hundred thirty eight.
'Forward, the Writing Brigade!'
....Mass rejection emails to the right of them,
Mass rejection emails to the left of them,
Mass rejection emails in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with words and the single stroke of a key...,
Boldly they wrote and well,
... When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the Writing Brigade,
Noble two hundred thirty eight!"

So now, I stand with 237 simultaneously rejected individuals, a whole lot of day jobs and lives and families and difficulties that were balanced against hard work and the perseverance it takes to write an entire novel. People, like me, who deserved to have their work treated with basic respect and honesty-- if you’re rejecting us all out of hand, someone on the list said she’d sent in her query moments before, you're not really doing either.

So to all my fellows in 238, I see you. I know what you’ve given up, worked for, and struggled with to write your novel. And I am proud to be counted one among you.




  

47 comments:

  1. This is brilliant! :)
    WE ARE THE 238

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, we are! And we have a voice! Many voices actually. : )

      Delete
    2. this IS brilliant!!! Love it!

      Delete
  2. I didn't think I would be smiling for some time after I got my rejection letter, especially after seeing how impersonal it was, but as they kept coming, I started to laugh. Today wasn't as bad as I thought.

    Yes, we are the 238!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had the same first reaction. Have to give it to our fellow writers for taking away the sting!

      Delete
  3. Diana - this is terrific! We "Rejected 238" shall prevail...even if it's to comment on a wonderful post. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. or rather...blog.

      Delete
    2. Can't keep us down! There are way too many of us.

      Delete
  4. Yeah I'm one of the 238. (Not sure which numero though.)

    But I DIDN'T QUERY HER.

    Sorry for caps. Feeling sad right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You didn't query her? Ah, well, that is unusual. Welcome to the club!

      Delete
  5. Wonderful. All hail the 238!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great! This turned out to be one of my favorite rejection moments.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Replies
    1. Thanks, Lance! I'll head over now!

      Delete
    2. Thanks for linking back. It makes it easier to keep track of it later.

      Delete
  8. As one of the Happy 238, I salute you all! I can't email the whole lot of you and don't want to take the time to copy thirty addresses at a pop. I suggest we collect ourselves into genres and form writers' feedback groups to help each other. Maybe we can make our works more marketable by working with each other.

    ODIrony

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Saluting back! Let me know if you organize something!

      Delete
    2. I think this is a wonderful idea! I submitted a query for a young adult novel.

      Delete
  9. i have a great idea .. just assign your own numbers for starters.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Here's my take on this: anyone who has written a novel is a hero of sorts and deserving of respect as someone who has stepped into the rarefied company of Doers, not Talkers; someone who has sacrificed much - and all that is asked for in return is to be treated fairly.

    A bog standard form rejection is not a nice thing but it happens and agents are busy people. Copying in 238 other people to share a humiliation is another thing entirely. Yes, mistakes get made, but this is sloppy and unprofessional. For that reason, I redrafted the rejection to say overtly what had been implied and sent it back out as a bit of a joke and, more importantly, as a way of claiming back some control over this whole process in which we, the aspiring writers, have to draft carefully targeted queries but agents can have daft interns mail-blast standard responses and we have no choice but to suck it up because we're at the bottom of the food chain.

    For those who didn't want to be cc'd in, I apologise, but it's not as if your email details were kept private, as they should have been. My intentions were good and I am proud that we have managed to turn around what could have been a discouraging moment and have made it into something empowering. I've sent off 40-odd queries and had four requests for a full manuscript, so please keep at it, all of you. When you reach 238 rejections, then maybe it's time to start anew.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear about you requests, Jason! I look forward to reading about your success. I'm glad you sent your email. It did make us all feel better, empowered. And, really, not so alone.

      Delete
  11. Print magazine offer to do a story on us?

    If you're one of the 238 check your email.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Reject #11 has started up a Facebook group called "The 238's". Join!!!

    Http://www.Facebook.com/#!/groups/280150772061605/

    ReplyDelete
  13. I probably shouldn’t admit to being stumped but I am: What does the “CC” vs. "BCC” have to do with the problem besides us seeing that we were rejected en masse?

    The problem was the tacky email….

    I’m actually glad there was no BCC because I would have been very lonely in my confusion…. (You all helped me problem solve; thanks for that.)

    And, what really ticks me off, is that there’s been no explanation or apology from WH—and they’ve been “hearing us” because they are included when anyone “replies all.”
    —Erica

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure why WH hasn't replied or acknowledged us, preferably as individuals. The email was their standard rejection. I've seen it posted on QT. I think the en masse is a problem since they took away our privacy, treated us disrespectfully, and went directly against the content of their rejection.

      Delete
  14. I am proud to be part of this very talented group.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Judy! I'm amazed at how many nice and respectful and creative people randomly arrived in my inbox!

      Delete
  15. Awesome! You included ALL the stuff! (and I'm not using 'awesome' sarcastically here.) I'll have to link to your post in my own post now. *goes to do so*

    I'm glad such a normally rotten experience was improved by all the networking it brought us. Yay for the 238!

    http://dverted.blogspot.com/2012/03/funny-but-true-query-story.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Donelle! I think, "Awesome" means something special to 238. It was the second email response on the chain replies.

      Delete
  16. This is absolutely amazing! I've got to say when I first saw the rejection, I was upset, but everyone who has e-mailed, blogged, written on Facebook, etc. have definitely made my day. This rejection has turned into something wonderful, and I am so glad to be part of it! This is a wonderful, original group.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Dani, I've really been impressed with everyone in the group! It's been great meeting you all!

      Delete
  17. Proud to be a member of the Noble 238 :-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hey, can I still sign up to the 238 FB page if I wasn't one of the original rejectees?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no idea! It doesn't seem to be a closed group. Follow the link!

      Http://www.Facebook.com/#!/groups/280150772061605/

      Delete
    2. The more the merrier!! It really is a great group of witty optimists. What an "awesome" group of people making the most out of being a reject ;)

      Delete
  19. Diana,

    Love to see writers standing together. It's just beautiful. There should definitely be an apology. You should collect more writers to stand up against this sort of thing. Great response! Can't wait to see your and Alison's script succeed!

    Erica (PS35)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Erica! I agree. We need a way to band together!

      Delete
  20. To the 238 mass rejected future authors: I couldn't believe this when I read it! I wasn't lucky/unlucky enough to be included in your band as my submission to the same agency was either part of a mass "no response" or an individually written form letter rejection.

    Please let me know when the full-length book or the movie version comes out about your collective story.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks, Ellis! Even if you weren't part of the group, feel free to join us on FB!

    Http://www.Facebook.com/#!/groups/280150772061605/

    ReplyDelete
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