Nevermind the sentiment “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”… rejection bites. For writers, it’s also an unavoidable part doing business. In a recent blog post for Graywolf Press, executive editor Jeff Shotts described the “terrible math” behind the publishing industry's notorious tendency of shutting down writers.
We accept under one-third of one percent of submissions that come in. Given those numbers, rejection letters are necessary, and they are, unfortunately, unexceptional. In fifteen years in publishing, I have probably written more than two thousand rejection letters.
Hopeful writers may find some comfort however in learning that even The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected by 16 separate publishing houses. One editor at Knopf went so far as to call it “dull.” Also dismissed were George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” and manuscripts by Jack Kerouac, Sylvia Plath, and in an infamously mocking rejection letter, Gertrude Stein.
Since so many rejection letters feel utterly impersonal, as though they were written by voiceless, faceless, robotic editors (and most of them are in fact 'form' letters derived from templates) we thought it would be fun to do a few dramatic readings of some of history's WORST rejection letters.
Voices by Taylor Quimby, Zach Nugent, Andrew Parrella, and Logan Shannon.