Book Business

When Not to Respond to a Rejection Letter

If you ask an agent the least favorite part of her job, she’ll usually say it’s sending out rejection letters. As an aspiring writer years ago, I saw more rejection letters than I care to recall. Still, I can’t remember one that wasn’t nice. Some were even helpful.

Back then, you had to kill trees and use at least one postage stamp, or run up a long distance phone bill (charged by the minute and spelled out on your phone bill) to respond to a rejection letter, so I don’t believe I responded to any rejection letters.

Email is super but it also makes it easy to fire back. At our office, we never know what will trigger an outraged response. We’ll send out what we believe is a perfectly nice letter, and receive something along the lines of:

1.) You’ll be sorry when I’m famous.

2.) God gave me this book, so now I’m on His side and you’re not.

3.) You’re obviously a hillbilly since you have no taste.

4.) You’re a lousy agent.

5.) My friend loves my book, so you don’t know what you’re talking about.

As an author living in a free country, you have every right to feel all of these emotions. They may or may not be based in truth. But for the moment, they are your truth. But don’t hit the SEND button on any email stating any of these temporary truths to anyone who could have an impact on your future career. That includes the Godless, hillbilly agent who doesn’t know what she’s talking about. So if you:

1.) Feel your face flushing red and hot;

2.) Feel your heart thumping rapidly; or

3.) Want to scream and throw things…

please don’t press SEND on any email. Email is forever and not the friend of the angry and disappointed.

So instead, you can pray and then:

1.) Call your friend, who loves your book.

2.) Drink tea.

3.) Watch a half hour of mindless television.

4.) Catch up on laundry.

5.) Walk around the block a few times.

In other words, do something else to calm down. And be glad you didn’t show your insecurities, pride, and anger to anyone in professional publishing.

Your turn:

Have you ever sent an email you regretted? How did you recover?

What advice would you offer a person angry about being rejected?

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