How not to accept a rejection

I’m currently working on editing my next anthology, THREE TIME TRAVELERS WALK INTO…  

I have stories from some great Big Name authors: David Gerrold, Jonathan Maberry, Jody Lynn Nye, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Peter David, Allen Steele, Adam-Troy Castro, Gail Z. Martin, Keith DeCandido, James Moore, and L. Penelope!

Then I sent out word that I was looking for more stories and received more than 100 submissions for what may only be 5 or 6 spots left in the book.

Some stories made it to my “maybe” folder but clearly there is no way I can put every single story there. I have to narrow down the selection somehow. So some stories were rejected after the first read-through.

That’s how it works. It’s part of the business and you can’t take it personally. I have had stories rejected by friends and I have had to reject friends, and we all understand it.

But not everyone is like that.

Thought you might like to see an example of how not to deal with rejection. This one author did not handle it well, and insulted me by basically saying that clearly, the only reason his magnificent story was rejected was because I was just plain wrong.

All of our email exchanges below are absolutely true. I am not naming the person, but I am certainly telling other editors out there, because no one is going to want to deal with him. He posted nasty comments about this on my Facebook page so he outed himself anyway (in case you feel like searching for it). 

Typos are in the original.

We’ll start with the standard form rejection letter I send out, which he received along with many others.  My emails are in italics.

Dear Fellow Author:

As a writer with my own collection of rejection letters, I am well aware of how disappointing it is to get one.

I hate sending them as much as I hate receiving them.

I’m afraid your story didn’t make the cut.

Sometimes the story is good but the reason I have to reject it is because I already have a story with a similar theme or similar characters. Sometimes it’s because I may have liked your story but saw that it needed some substantive editing, and I would rather pick another good story that did not need it. Sometimes I like the story but I just have too many stories I like and I just can’t accept them all. Sometimes, honestly, it’s just not that well-written.

Some of the stories I have rejected so far are because there just wasn’t a story there. There would be three people from history, and they’d talk, and some stuff happened, but there wasn’t an adventure. There wasn’t a conflict that needed to be resolved. The characters were the same at the end of the story as they were at the start of the story. It may have had an interesting concept, but that was it. The setting is just the start of the story, and isn’t a story itself.

And sometimes it’s just a matter of taste, after all. I literally had way over a hundred submissions for maybe ten spots, so I can be picky. Another editor with the same stories may have made completely different choices.

Thank you again for sending me your story.

What a delightfully thorough brush-off. However, you neglected the most important variable of all: human fallibility. You might want to read Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan with particular attention to the section on Experts and “Empty Suits.”

My, you certainly handle rejection well.  I shall remember that for any future submissions.

Touched a nerve did I?  I would think an attorney woiuld have thicker skin.

heh!  No nerve was touched. I am just happy to know who to avoid in the future, as clearly you would not be a writer that would be accommodating or easy to work with.  Thank you for letting me know.

I am sorry I offended your fragile ego. A little bit of snark and you turn tail and run, Clearly, you are no litigator. Most likely a limp-wristed creature of privilege that leads a sheltered existence. You need to grow a set. And maybe wise up and stop taking the bait I keep dangling in front of you. You take yourself far too seriously for someone who purveys nothing more than empty entertainment. Or am I to believe your stories are life-changing?

 
You are so amusing!  I have enjoyed sharing your exchanges with fellow editors.  Good luck in breaking into the business.
 
You are punching above your weight little man. I have already found a home for my story.  So thanks for the blessing, but I didn’t need it.  Please give my warm regards to all your little friends, and feel free to share whatever you like. if you think my e-mails are newsworthy, then you have achieved a level of pettiness that would make Donald Trump proud. What you don’t get is that for your watery barbs to have any impact, I have to respect you. And I don’t. Maybe because I served my country in time of war, while you hid under your mother’s skirts. But by all means, keep trying to have the last word. By all means try to bully me with “Good luck trying to break into the business.”  My advice is for you to stick with shuffling deeds or chasing ambulances or whatever low level legal functions you perform, and continue to play the role of the little man who wants to be bigger. And for the record, Indie publishwers are a dime a dozen, so “breaking into the business” is not exactly a Herculean task. After all, if you can be a publisher, then anyone can. God bless KDP.
With warmest regards for a Happy New Year
 
I appreciate your comments — they will make a great blog post.  I especially love how you were rejected and are trying to make it seem like you rejected me.  Just lovely.  Thanks again.  Be sure to check my blog to see your work.
 
Well, this has certainly been fun. But this lop-sided exchange with a jellyfish who thinks he is a shark has run its course. I’m not sure how I made it seem like I rejected you. All I did was point out that you omitted a significant variable in your assessment of why stories get rejected. I provided you a citation that explored how experts are fallible, nothing more. You subsequently took umbrage and threw a hissy fit. I take it that as an attorney you never impeached an expert witness or appealed a judge’s ruling based on an error of law.
     If posting my e-mails makes you believe that you have bested me, then I am okay with that. I am nothing if not charitable to the weak.  Anyone with half brain knows I have owned you in these exchanges. You’re like Trump after he lost the election: a sore loser.I get that you are desperate to have the last word. So, by all means,  blog away and make yourself look pettier than you do now.  Odd, I who you claim is so disturbed by being rejected, feels no such obligation to redeem myself by trashing you on social media. I guess that’s the difference between being a man and a querlous adolescent schoolgirl. Blog away Mary, blog away, and make yourself look like a bigger jackass than you already do.
     As for me,there’s only so much fun to be had pulling the wings off a fly. So, this will be my last e-mail. You no doubt will want to get in the last word. But alas, I will delete it without reading it. And I have no interest in your blog. I have too much self-respect to debase myself with the rants of a delusional fool.
Your buddy forever and ever
(name removed)
P.S. I can send you tampons if you like, Consider them a parting gift to repay you for the fun I’ve had at your expense. It’s the least I can do since I was paid to yank your chain.
 
….
 
So, in conclusion, Since this is my blog for giving advice, here’s my advice.

 

Don’t do this.

Thank you.

6 Responses

  1. Y’know, he sounds *exactly* like a jerk who showed up on my roth-whitworth timeline, telling me that I was charging too much for my book (never mind I’m not indie, I noted that it was published by a small press, and they and Amazon chose the price). This idiot went on with “an unknown author”, and “I can read people like Asimov and Heinlein in the library”, and was basically asked for a cheaper or free copy of m novel.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I read your rejection letter, I was amazed, both by how kind you were, and by the detail you put into it. I’ve received *many* rejections, but none was ever longer than a brief paragraph! You’re amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. If a combatant only has personal attacks, he is admitting he has nothing of substance to say, nothing that speaks directly to the issue at hand.

    I notice that he failed to defend his story, failed to point out why his story had merit, and went directly to the ad hominem. So … not exactly a high bar, even so he failed to pass it. (Pun intended.)

    Meanwhile I wonder why he says, “It’s the least I can do since I was paid to yank your chain.” That suggests a bit of trollery at work.

    I wouldn’t have wasted anymore time on him after his first attempt at insult. I applaud your patience.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a fragile ego on this guy. I love the way you needle him into blathering on and making a bigger cool of himself!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow. All I can say is wow.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s funny because it’s true.

    Like

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