The Drop-dead Rejection Letter

Snoopy in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts cartoon strip received the toughest rejection slips I’ve ever seen. In one of them, he’s reading a letter that says:

            “Dear Contributor:

            Many thanks for submitting your story to our magazine. You are the worst writer we’ve ever seen. Leave us alone. Drop Dead. Get lost.”

            Snoopy leans against his dog house and says: “Probably a form rejection slip.”

Elizabeth and I are kinder in our rejection letter, and following up on my previous blog about rejection, I thought you might be interested in seeing it.  Since rejections are inevitable, we try to make the letter as painless and inspiring as we can. As far as we know, it’s unique and we receive compliments on it. If you’re ever tempted to submit to our agency, at least you’ll know what our response may be.

Dear Writer:

Many thanks for contacting us about your work. We’re very sorry that we have to decline what you have been kind enough to offer, because we can’t help you achieve the success you want.

We are eager to find new books and writers, and we love to get excited about them. But the only way we can make a living is by selling books to big and midsize publishers, and selling books by new writers is becoming more difficult. Now is the best time ever to be a writer, but finding new writers is the hardest part of our job, and it’s getting harder.

Like the rest of the arts, publishing is a very subjective business. Even though we have written or coauthored fourteen books, most of which have been successful, we still get rejected. And although we have sold books to more than 100 imprints and publishers, our clients’ work is still rejected. Nor do all of the books that we sell succeed.

Like editors, we receive thousands of submissions a year and reject more than ninety percent of them. This prevents us from commenting on submissions and forces us to use a form letter. But take heart! Rejecting manuscripts that become bestsellers is a publishing tradition.

So assume we’re wrong. Persevere until your books reach the goals you set for them. We usually can’t suggest a publisher or agent who might be interested in a writer’s work, but your writing community, directories, the Web, and the Association of Authors’ Representatives will lead you to the agent you need. Persistence rewards talent. We can’t make a living saying no, but as author Joe Girard says: “Every no gets you closer to yes.”

Many thanks for giving us the opportunity to represent you. We wish you the best of luck with your writing career. The information on our site may explain why you’re receiving this letter. Persevere!

Yours for Good Books That Sell (Especially When They’re Yours!),

Michael Larsen                                      Elizabeth Pomada

The letter is always a work in progress, so if you can think of a way to make it more helpful, please let me know.