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.