On the Other Side of the Other Side


Not too long ago, I wrote a post about being a fiction editor at a litmag and specifically, about the deep regret I feel about rejecting writers with whom I empathize. I myself get several dozen rejection letters a year. It sucks. And being on the other side of the judging table makes rejection all the more complicated for me.

Today, Colleen Lindsay blogged about what NOT to do when you get a rejection from an agent, over at The Swivet. She gave a very specific example in the form of a response to a polite rejection letter she’d sent out. The letter goes like this:

Colleen Lindsay:

Thank you for making it clear, through your response to my query, that you are unquipped (sic) to represent fiction writers who are working at the very highest level today.

Best of luck with your list of minor writers, third-rate writers, irrelevant writers, non-writers.

You lose, silly woman.

Patrick Roscoe

Do NOT write a “fuck you letter” to someone who rejects your work (unless you are Norman McLean after having written A River Runs Through It to critical acclaim, whose object of fury was the editor of the publishing house who “played games” with his first manuscript before thoroughly rejecting it).

And I have to say–I get “fuck you emails” at the litmag on a regular basis, despite the fact that I write personalized rejection letters that I make sure are polite and respectful of the writer. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and erases any regret I might have had in my decision.

I’d understand a “fuck you letter” if I accepted your piece, played mind games with you and your piece, and then ended up rejecting it anyway–but not when it’s a response to a polite, straightforward, rejection letter.


Filed under Fiction Editor, Literary Rejections, Publishing

4 responses to “On the Other Side of the Other Side

  1. Nate

    McLean was old and retired when he wrote RRTI, no? Man, you should never fuck with old people –that’s just common sense!

    I like this one from John D. MacDonald:


  2. What kind of FU letters do you get? I’m amazed that anyone would send something like that. What are they thinking? My responses to rejections are always, “Thank you so much for the feedback,” etc.

    • I’ll email you offline. I think it’s mostly just very miffed writers who feel deeply hurt and personally offended by being rejected. Not very different from what many writers IMAGINE/fantasize about doing–just, they actually write the email AND push “send.” 🙂

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