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Friday, July 05, 2013

Do You Know a GOOD Rejection When You See One?

I’m amazed at the number of beginning writers I talk to who have no idea there’s such a thing as a good rejection. Those new to the industry have the idea that no is no and there’s nothing good about it.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

And if you spend much time in the industry you’ll discover there are varying levels of no. Today I’ll let you in on some positive rejections you may (hopefully) run into.

  • The Worst Good Rejection is One With a Personal Note. Let me assure you that editors do not have time to write personal notes to go with everything they reject. Any time an editor takes time to encourage a writer, especially one they aren’t going to publish, IT’S A BIG DEAL. And you should be encouraged that you’re doing something right.
  • Next on the Good Rejection Ladder is One that Turns You Down But ask if They Can Keep Your Name on File. Again, editors don’t ask that of every writer they come in contact with. Frequently editors reject a piece, not because it’s not well-written, but because they just can’t use it. They may have published something similar in the recent past or just not have a place for what you submitted. But if you’re asked if they can keep your name on file this means they like your writing. And that’s a GOOD THING!
  • Further up on the Good Rejection Ladder is One Where the Editor asks Permission to Pass the Piece  or Your Name to another Department. Again, editors don’t put their reputations on the line for writers they don’t think can write. If an editor asks if they can pass your name along, say YES, and then CELEBRATE!
  • At the very Top of the Good Rejection Ladder is One With Suggestions. Sometimes an editor will send you a rejection and ask you to make some changes and resubmit. This should cause you to do a happy dance. No editor is going to take the time to tell you what they want if they don’t really want you to resubmit it. When this happens, don’t just be encouraged. Sit yourself in front of the computer and make those changes—then RESUBMIT it!

These are just a few of the good rejections you can run into. And I don’t want anyone to pass up the chance to celebrate! Now it’s your turn, if you’ve had a good rejection, share the story in the comments section below.

Edie Melson is the author of four books, as well as a freelance editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. Her popular blog, TheWrite Conversation, reaches thousands of writers each month, and she’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her bestselling ebook on social media has just been updated and re-released as Connections: Social Media& Networking Techniques for Writers. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy and the social media director for Southern Writers Magazine. You can connect with Edie through Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Great post and an excellent one for us "newbies". I received a good rejection letter recently. It was complimentary of my writing, my manuscript was not a good fit for this particular publisher (in terms of genre). But she did tell me that a future submission would be welcomed. I did, indeed, do a happy dance...eventually...when I realized how fortunate I was to receive such a note.

  2. Not long ago, I submitted a completed m.s. to an editor I had met at the conference last year. Meanwhile, I was continuing to develop another novel, which was well over halfway written at that point. So, when that editor sent back an eight-paragraph email saying she loved the concept but wanted to give suggestions for improving the story, part of me rejoiced, but part of me wanted to continue polishing the next story. I am thankful that helpful editor invited me to resubmit, and with no expiration on her offer. Between the two stories, I have plenty to do!

  3. I received a good rejection some time ago. They told me how far the piece had gone before it was turned down and encouraged me to submit something in the future. It's good to know this truly was a good sign and not just a standard response or a nice thing for them to say.

  4. I received a good rejection lately as well.I was happy to read your article, because honestly, the rejection letter had made me feel a bit down. The editor had put in a personal note telling me that she thought my story was intriguing, but then she proceeded to critique two or three different points of my plot development. Hearing something more personalized about the writing that you work so hard on can be painful, but I do think it is important to take the criticism and use it to make your work better. Thanks so much for the encouragement, Edie!


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