If you’re a budding writer and you’ve submitted your work to an agent or publisher, you’ll have received a form rejection at some point in your life. To those Outlanders who aren’t fellow writerkin and thus haven’t experienced the unique sensation of a robot telling you it doesn’t want to read any more of your work, a form rejection is the identical rejection email all rejectees get sent if an agent doesn’t fancy your work.
To many the form rejection is the sign of all that’s wrong with publishing, a symbol of faceless bureaucracy and the antithesis of the free spirit which supposedly drives the art of writing. It’s where the metal meets the meat, where business collides with creativity and where first-time writers realise what they’re doing isn’t a hobby or an abstract art form – it is a profession. Stereotyped as hiding behind their copy replies, agents and editors catch flak now and then from those who have just entered the strange, brutal world of writing, and have been left feeling unloved.
But spare these agents a thought, writerkin, and cut them some slack. We’re all human, despite the automated responses. Quite aside from the fact that these poor souls have to deal with a ridiculously large amount of downright shoddy writing every single day, let’s not assume they derive even an ounce of pleasure from rejecting anyone’s work. I hadn’t really appreciated how miserable it was delivering an outright “no” to someone until recently. The reply, basically saying sorry, actually I don’t want your contract in just a couple of sentences, wasn’t fun.
Publishing is a tough, tricky game that uses Big Boy’s Rules, and it’s all about taking knocks and getting back up again. But don’t just assume the people dolling out those knocks actually want to cause you any suffering. Save that rejection email under “writing” so you can look back on it fondly years from now, when that “file attached” symbol pops up in your inbox.