Real Rejections

You've been there, having finished a piece, stewed on it a bit, trussed it up all good and proper, and then shipped it to an agent or a lit mag. And what a thrill when, lo and behold, your inbox begins to swell with agent responses! Surely each email will be another agent lauding your work, your genius, your future in the pantheon of Western Literature. How will you pick the agent you want? Is it possible to rent an arena, toss your manuscript into its center, and watch agents fight over it? Will your advance be the low-end of 6 figures or the high-end of 5?


Filled with excitement, you guide your mouse to the email, click on it, and–


–A form rejection.




We're taking a break from our Agent Anonymous series–which, by the way, thank you for the emails, the clicks, and the support–to bring you another new feature: a glimpse of what it would be like if agents wrote rejection letters like the queries they received. Keep in mind: THIS IS YOUR COMPETITION.


My secret agent has whipped up these premium "fake" rejections to real, actual queries they have received, and given me permission to share them with all of you.


And as always, if you are an aspiring writer and have real questions you want answered bluntly/honestly and with all bullshit cast aside, feel free to fire off an email to me, or a tweet via @toddedillard. Or, if you're an agent/editor with something burning to say but, you know, you like your career and professionalism or whatever, contact me and we'll give you an anonymous platform to say what you're really feeling.


And now, welcome to the first installment of Real Rejections!




Dear Happy Happy Woo,
We are almost as excited as you are about submitting your amazing idea to us even though there was no attached proposal or pages.There were quite a lot of links which we ignored, because maybe you're a hacker, maybe you're a rickroller – who knows, right? We sure don't!!!
We regret to inform you that we are very bleak over here at the Agency Agency and that we don't believe in pictures or colors or any form of fun and so we wish you the best (by which, of course, we mean, a calm and sedate evening at home reading Dostoevsky and some Chekhov).
Good luck with your future endeavors!
Thank you for trying to cheer us up and failing miserably and losing all respect we may have had for you,




Dear So-And-So,
Thank You For Considering Agency AGENCY For Your Literary Fiction Novel Debut. Unfortunately, We DO NOT Believe You TRULY Believe In Your Novel Because You Only Capitalized Every Fifth Word Of Your Sentences, And Not Every Word Of Every Sentence And Then CAPITALIZING EVERY LETTER OF IMPORTANT WORDS.
Given The Flippant Nature Of Your Submission, We Simply Cannot Even Open Your Manuscript, And Peruse It, And Read It, And Etc. To It. It Just Wouldn't Be Decent.
Here At Agency Agency, We Believe Passion Is Both A Platonic Ideal And An Actual Proper Noun. Like, Literally, The Intern Down The Hall Is Named Passion. She Says Hi.
But Thank YOU For Your Consideration, And Best WISHES In Your Continued SEARCH.




Dear Lawyer/Banker/Financial Adviser/Hedge Fund Manager of thirty years or more,
We appreciate the chance to review the first ten pages of your entirely original thriller that does not have anything to do with Jonathan Kellerman, James Patterson, or, heaven forbid, P. D. James. We regret to inform you, however, that we are not currently searching for manuscripts that vaguely veil your lives in law, banking, finance, and hedge fund managerism. For future reference, should you be bold enough to submit to us again (which we are sure you will be because you are not used to hearing the word "no"), we do not want the following terms to appear anywhere in any manuscript: Guardian Ad Litem, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Disintermediation, Collateralized Debt Obligation Cubed – CDO-Cubed.
Thank you for heeding our advice, by which we mean once again that we are certain you will ignore it completely which is why we have a comprehensive form letter written up just for you (don't you feel special?).
With disinterest,


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Real Rejections

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1 Comment

  • I have so many feels about this kind of post!  As a lawyer, the third rejection made me laugh out loud (especially the acronyms).  Then after laughing, I boggle to imagine that people actually send these kinds of query letters.  I believe it, because why would you lie to me, but I cannot comprehend the mindset behind them.  Then after boggling, I feel depressed.  Surely my queries are completely professional and unobjectionable!  And by extension, surely my writing is genius in comparison!  And yet, the rejections keep coming…

    (But I will never stop reading this kind of post because the lulz are worth the subsequent dejection).  

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