Thanks so much for letting us take a look at your materials, and please forgive me for responding with a form letter. The volume of submissions we receive, however, makes it impossible to correspond with everyone personally. Unfortunately, the project you describe does not suit our list at this time. We wish you the best of luck in finding an agent and publisher for your work, and we thank you, once again, for letting us consider your materials.”
I received this email on the 29th of April 2016 and it completely took me by surprise. How could I receive a rejection letter from an agent for a query I didn’t remember submitting this year?
I went through my sent emails and found out that on the 12th of September 2014 I did send a query to this particular agent for my first novel The Lost I.
I was having issues with my publisher Raider International. My contract with them had ended on May 2011 and they (up to now) have my book listed for sale on Amazon. So I tried to find another publisher for it.
The agent I applied to showed interest in stories about the Middle East and the agency had no problem dealing with books that were already published. I didn’t hear from them until the end of April this year. And that just a formal letter.
I find this strange. It took the agent one year and seven months to just send me not an individual, personal letter but just a formal rejection letter?
Donna Bucian Currie wrote that when she sent a story to a now-defunct literary magazine here’s what happened.
“I waited the required time for a reply, then added a month before I sent my first letter (with appropriate SASE) asking about the status of my piece. I waited, then sent a second letter a month after the first.
Just as I was about to launch a third query, my manila envelope returned with my manuscript nestled safely inside. I looked for a cover letter or form of rejection, but found nothing. I riffled through the pages, thinking there might be some communication stuck inside my manuscript. Nothing.
Jokingly, I turned the empty manila envelope upside down, opened it wide and shook it vigorously. A small piece of paper no bigger than the slips found in fortune cookies, came wafting out of the envelope and settled on my lap. On it was typed “sorry not for us” and nothing more. No signature, no initials. And no punctuation or capitals, either, for Pete’s sake.
I wanted to cry. Thinking about what a heartless response I’d gotten, I began to wonder:
Did someone type this and cut it out just for me, wasting a whole, larger sheet of paper, or did they have so many rejections they couldn’t afford anything bigger?
When I pictured how many of these tiny rejections they could cut from an 8.5 x 11 sheet, the rejection felt much less personal.”
One year and seven months! Luckily I had forgotten all about it!