Mafia Cat Rejects Hilter. Hitler Breaks Off German-Italian Alliance. War Ends.

I once read that certain topics were guaranteed attention getters. The only four from that list I remember are Hitler, the Mafia, war, and cats, to which I would add rejection. My post “A Rejection So Pleasant It Was Almost an Acceptance” attracted more attention than the last four combined. The title of this post is a 12-word short story based on those five attention getters (it got you here, didn’t it?) but the one I will be focusing on is rejection.

Rejection is hard to deal with because we feel so . . . rejected. Writers aspiring to be published, however, need to learn how to deal with it. There are hundreds of thousands of books written each year by unpublished novelists, and only a couple of hundred will be accepted by major publishers. Rejection, then, is part of the game.

A fellow writer pointed out that my great rejection letter scored high on the etiquette scale, but it was very likely a form letter. He could be right. I once got a rejection letter from an agent that was printed out on a computer and addressed to me personally. The letter spoke of my writing ability, mentioned the name of my book and how they had considered taking it on but had to pass because the subject matter was not quite right for their agency. Pleased with the personal touch and believing I was close to finding representation, I checked to see which of my novels would be a better fit, shot off another query, and received the same basic rejection letter in return. Definitely a case of a form letter that scored high on the etiquette scale.

If it is possible to write rejection letters that make the recipient feel good, why do agents and editors send letters that are cold, almost cruel? Because, despite what they say, they do not want to be queried. They get thousands of queries a year, and each of those queries mean unpaid work.

My advice? Briefly glance at any letter you receive to make sure it is a rejection, then shred it. Get it out of your sight. Send out more queries; to a certain extent, the more you are rejected, the more you become inured to it. Also, learn to see rejection letters for what they are: an attempt at keeping you from bothering that agent or editor again.

And hope that one day you will become so well known that those agents will seek you out, and then you can send them rejection letters.

9 Responses to “Mafia Cat Rejects Hilter. Hitler Breaks Off German-Italian Alliance. War Ends.”

  1. DeEee Says:

    I came to your site for the content, not the title, though the title is cute.

    I hate rejection letters. I absolutely despise them. I get them all the time and have only received one acceptance letter. That acceptance seemed so unreal because it was not of the norm. What’s my point? I can’t get used to the rejections. I want to tell all my profs and old classmates, “You’re lying! You told me to send it out and they hated it!” Point being: I can’t get used to the things!

    The sad part? I sometimes read for a lit zine and have to say no. I know form letters go out except to those who almost made it. . .

    DeEee (

  2. Bertram Says:

    I wouldn’t like sending out rejections either, especially to the almosts. One thing, if you are getting rejections all the time, that means at least you are doing something. The only way to keep from getting rejected is to do nothing, and that isn’t much of an option.

  3. nomananisland Says:

    Actually there is an alternative. Posting stories online. You can build your own audience, ignore traditional publishing, and if you’re good enough, eventually make as much money as the average published writer.

    Which is to say, not very much. In publishing, 20% of the writers get 80% of the money — the big names like King, Grisham, Steele, the people with yearly bestsellers. Even they will tell you that if you want to be a fulltime writer, marry someone with money. Most published writers still need a fulltime job.

    Here’s a blog by someone who publishes exclusively online, and makes enough money that writing is their only job. The blog has links to several stories by the same author, all in different styles, and payment is through Paypal donations, advertisements, and merchandise.

    On the site Pages Unbound there is advice about how to write online and also advertise.

    It’s a way to write for yourself, perhaps find an audience, and stop caring what the publishing world thinks. That sounds a lot better than being rejected, and it isn’t doing nothing.

  4. Bertram Says:

    Thank you for telling me about these links.

    I once considered self-publishing but decided not to because of up-front costs and my lack of marketing skills. After reading “Authors: What to think about before you e-publish” at, however, I realize I need to rethink my options.

  5. lynn doiron Says:

    I used to decoupage my studio floor with rejects. The floor was painted plyboard and the geometrics of “Sorry!” leading over toward the desk area gave me some strange satisfaction in walking on them, as if I needed to build them up, build a bridge, a clear path, before I could get any where. They were evidence of having tried.

  6. nomananisland Says:

    No problem, Bertram. E-publishing has changed the face of self-publishing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it changes the face of traditional publishing in the next ten years. The front-end costs of having a publisher, agent, editor, advertising team etc. eat up a writer’s profits — but online, you can quickly and easily do most of it yourself.

  7. Bertram Says:

    Until I got rid of all my rejection letters, I had enough to paper a floor (maybe even an entire room). Some agents and editors did not like my writing style — they said it’s too matter-of-fact and non-literary — but most liked the way I write. They even liked my books, but since the stories don’t fit in a niche, they don’t know how to sell them. (Or so they said.) Perhaps I will need to figure out how to sell them myself.

  8. nomananisland Says:

    That’s the thing with traditional publishing — how often does anything “traditional” try something new? They’ve closed themselves into a system because it works for them, going outside the system is scary. While you and I might be capable of writing a good mainstream book that would attract a publisher’s attention, the books we love to write are not easily labelled.

    Would you rather serve their needs or write the story you want to write? You know the answer — and those links help you accomplish that goal in a meaningful way. Good luck to you sir.

  9. Bertram Says:

    I guess now I need to figure out the best way to go about self-publishing.

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