This June, I taught a query workshop at Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Lit Fest. Afterward, one participant approached and asked me to read a response letter she had received (not from me). She wanted to know if it was a “standard” rejection letter. I read it aloud and was a little chagrined to discover just how similar it was to the letter I had been using for years. I told her that yes, this was not a personal letter but a standard rejection. Two days later, I was chastised by an aspiring writer who said it was time for us to change our standard rejection letter. Obviously that poor person had received our letter multiple times.
But I took the chastisement to heart. It was time for a change. So I’m going to share with you, my newsletter readers, our standard rejection letter and explain why I chose the verbiage I did.
Dear INSERT WRITER’S NAME:
KN: I actually do input the writer’s name. This business is so impersonal (some agents don’t even respond at all if they aren’t interested in a query), but I always want writers to be acknowledged as human beings. Even though it takes longer to respond to queries.
Thank you so much for thinking of me for your query. I wish I could offer a more personalized response but on average, I receive 500+ email query letters a week.
KN: This is true. In fact, I receive way more than 500 queries a week. Recently I’ve been averaging about 100 to 150 email query letters a day. Don’t let these stats daunt you. If you are serious about your career, you’ll persevere. Know the odds, but give them only the weight of a side note. I have signed many a client after finding them in our query inbox.
Do know that every query letter and sample page is read, and even though your project is not right for me, it might be right for another agent so don’t give up!
KN: This is true. I actually read a lot of my own queries on a daily basis. However, when I travel or have a crazy day, Angie, Jamie, and Karrie jump in to help out. They have to. After just two days, the inbox grows unwieldy. I also really do mean the last line. I’ve passed on any number of queries for projects that weren’t right for me but that other agents loved and went on to represent and even sell. I can only champion what I feel passionate about. Not everything will be a good fit for me.
I’m also sorry I have no agent recommendations to offer.
KN: I had to include this. We were receiving so many reply emails asking for a recommendation that it was taking too long to respond to every query twice. We had to preemptively make it clear that we could offer no more information.
Good luck with all your publishing endeavors.
KN: Absolutely. My rejection letter to your query is only one little bump on your journey to becoming a published author.
Kristin NelsonTags: San Diego Comic Con