Three Interesting Letters Of Rejection

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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I wrote a post last week about now famous and successful authors who had been the victims of intellectually challenged publishers and who as a consequence had suffered the indignity of receiving letters and comments rejecting their work. (Possibly The Most Rejected Book Manuscript In The World)

Back on the theme of rejection letters I found a few other examples that I thought were interesting and, I hope, amusing. Here are three of the best.

Enjoy.

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The first was sent to an aspiring author of a novel. It was either a very bad manuscript or the publisher was having a particularly bad day.

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Dear Bad Writer,

Unfortunately it falls to me to inform you that Harlequin will not be publishing your novel, Kisses In January.

While it is customary to send out a form letter in cases of such rejection, your novel was so strikingly inept, I felt I had to say a few words.

One, you are not welcome to submit any future work to our offices.

Two, both myself and my assistant are considering legal action against you for wasting our valuable time with your relentless tripe.

Among the areas needing vast improvement: Description, character development, and dialogue. The less said about the love scenes the better.

Should this novel have been published, it would have likely resulted in the end of modern book sales.

Trying to Forget,

Judith P Esterman, Editor

Harlequin American Romance.

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The second is a curious letter of rejection. In fact you could say it is a rejecting rejection letter.

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Herbert A. Millington
Chair – Search Committee
412A Clarkson Hall, Whitson University
College Hill, MA 34109

Dear Professor Millington,

Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me an assistant professor position in your department.

This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite Whitson’s outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of assistant professor in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.

Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.

Sincerely,
Chris L. Jensen

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And the third is perhaps the letter we have all secretly wanted to write at some time in our lives. It is a farewell letter from someone who worked in the Dublin office of Ernst & Young. Now this is closure!

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My leaving letter: 

Dear Co-Workers,

As many of you probably know, tomorrow is my last day. But before I leave, I wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what a great and distinct pleasure it has been to type “Tomorrow is my last day.”

For nearly as long as I’ve worked here, I’ve hoped that I might one day leave this company. And now that this dream has become a reality, please know that I could not have reached this goal without your unending lack of support. Words cannot express my gratitude for the words of gratitude you did not express.

I would especially like to thank all of my managers: in an age where miscommunication is all too common, you consistently impressed and inspired me with the sheer magnitude of your misinformation. It takes a strong man to admit his mistake – it takes a stronger man to attribute his mistake to me.

Over the year and a half, you have taught me more than I could ever ask for and, in most cases, ever did ask for. I have been fortunate enough to work with some absolutely interchangeable supervisors on a wide variety of seemingly identical projects – an invaluable lesson in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium in overcoming daily tedium.

Your demands were high and your patience short, but I take great solace knowing that my work was, as stated on my annual review, “mostly satisfactory.” That is the type of praise that sends a man home happy after even a ‘10 hour’ day, smiling his way through half a bottle of mostly satisfactory scotch.

And to most of my peers: even though we barely acknowledged each other within these office walls, I hope that in the future, should we pass on the street, you will regard me the same way as I regard you: sans eye contact.

But to those few souls with whom I’ve actually interacted, here are my personalized notes of farewell:

To Caulfield: I will always remember sharing lunch with you, despite having clearly labeled it with my name.

To Mairead: I will miss detecting your flatulence as much as you will clearly miss walking past my cubicle to deliver it.

To Linda: Best wishes on your ongoing campaign to popularize these “email forwards.” I sincerely hope you receive that weekend full of good luck, that hug from an old friend, and that baby for your dusty womb.

And finally, to Kat: you were right – I tested positive. We’ll talk later.

So, in parting, if I could pass on any word of advice to the individual who will soon be filling my position, it would be to cherish this experience like a sponge and soak it up like a good woman, because a job opportunity like this comes along only once in a lifetime.

Meaning: if I had to work here again in this lifetime, I would sooner kill myself.

Very truly yours,

Cian Kelliher

 

PS: I will be throwing myself a happy hour farewell party at the Oden 5.30 tomorrow evening if anybody is interested in drinks!

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Possibly The Most Rejected Book Manuscript In The World

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Gilbert Young was as aspiring writer, something that will find sympathy with many bloggers and blog readers I’m sure.

But Mr Young has not been the most successful of authors. In the 1970s he wrote a book, World Government Crusade, and last reports indicate that it was rejected by more publishers that any other manuscript. He even wrote to the Soviet Ambassador to see if Russian publishers might be interested. They were not.

He amassed a collection of 205 rejection slips.

It’s all hardly surprising since the subject matter of his book outlined the policies of the ‘World Government and Old Age Pensioners’ Party’ that he had founded in 1958.

But whilst Mr Young’s manuscript may well have been worthy of rejection, sometimes publishers have made serious errors when assessing work submitted to them by aspiring authors. Stupidity is indeed everywhere!

Take a look at these famous examples and the publisher’s comments. It’s a fairly long list, but interesting to see the variety of great writers who started off their careers being rejected. At least some of them will surprise you!

Thank goodness they were persistent enough to carry on. Another good lesson there for aspiring writers today.

Perhaps rather fittingly, whilst the authors and books they criticized have gone on to become household names, the publishers doing the rejecting have long been forgotten.

Enjoy.

 

 

“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D H Lawrence

‘for your own sake do not publish this book.’

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“The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame

‘an irresponsible holiday story’

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“Lord of the Flies” by William Golding

‘an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull.’

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“Watership Down” by Richard Adams

‘older children wouldn’t like it because its language was too difficult.’

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“Valley of the Dolls” by Jacqueline Susann 

Susann’s “Valley Of The Dolls” received this response, “…she is a painfully dull, inept, clumsy, undisciplined, rambling and thoroughly amateurish writer whose every sentence, paragraph and scene cries for the hand of a pro. She wastes endless pages on utter trivia, writes wide-eyed romantic scenes …hauls out every terrible show biz cliché in all the books, lets every good scene fall apart in endless talk and allows her book to ramble aimlessly …”

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“Crash” by J  G Ballard

‘The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.’

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“The Torrents of Spring” by Ernest Hemingway

Regarding his novel, “The Torrents of Spring”, Ernest Hemingway was rejected with, “It would be extremely rotten taste, to say nothing of being horribly cruel, should we want to publish it.”

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“Moby Dick” by Herman Melville

Melville was told, “We regret to say that our united opinion is entirely against the book as we do not think it would be at all suitable for the Juvenile Market in (England). It is very long, rather old-fashioned…”

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William Faulkner

Faulkner may be a classic writer to this, as well as prior, generation, but back when he was trying to crack the publishing market, he had to read letters like this one, “If the book had a plot and structure, we might suggest shortening and revisions, but it is so diffuse that I don’t think this would be of any use. My chief objection is that you don’t have any story to tell.” This was kinder than the rejection he would receive just two years later, “Good God, I can’t publish this!”

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“The Deer Park” by Norman Mailer

‘This will set publishing back 25 years.’

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“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” by Anita Loos

‘Do you realize, young woman, that you’re the first American writer ever to poke fun at sex.’

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“The Diary of Anne Frank”

‘The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the “curiosity” level.’ 

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“Lust for Life” by Irving Stone

Stone’s manuscript “Lust For Life” was rejected 16 times, with letters like this, “A long, dull novel about an artist.” Eventually he found a publisher and went on to sell about 25 million copies.

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“Barchester Towers” by Anthony Trollope

‘The grand defect of the work, I think, as a work of art is the low-mindedness and vulgarity of the chief actors.  There is hardly a lady” or “gentleman” amongst them.’

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“Carrie” by Stephen King

‘We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias.  They do not sell.’

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“Catch – 22” by Joseph Heller

‘I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities.’

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“The Spy who Came in from the Cold” by John le Carré

‘You’re welcome to le Carré – he hasn’t got any future.’

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“The War Of The Worlds”  &  “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells

Wells had to endure the indignity of a rejection when he submitted his manuscript, “The War of the Worlds” that said, “An endless nightmare. I do not believe it would “take”…I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book’.”

And when he tried to market “The Time Machine,” it was said, “It is not interesting enough for the general reader and not thorough enough for the scientific reader.”

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“Animal Farm” by George Orwell

‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA’

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Edgar Allen Poe

Poe was told, “Readers in this country have a decided and strong preference for works in which a single and connected story occupies the entire volume.”

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 “A Wrinkle In Time” by Madeleine L’Engle

L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle In Time” was turned down 29 times.

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“Bridge Over River Kwai” by Pierre Boulle 

A rejection letter said, “A very bad book.”

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“The Clan of Cave Bear” by Jean Auel

Auel was told, “We are very impressed with the depth and scope of your research and the quality of your prose. Nevertheless … we don’t think we could distribute enough copies to satisfy you or ourselves.”

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“Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach

The publisher of a magazine refusing an offer to bid on the paperback rights to Bach’s best selling novel said, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull will never make it as a paperback.” Avon Books eventually bought those rights and sales totaled more than 7.25 million copies.

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“The Fountainhead” & “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand

Before Ayn Rand became known as an intellectual and her books as classics, she too received rejections. Of “The Fountin Head” they said, “It is badly written and the hero is unsympathetic,” and, “I wish there were an audience for a book of this kind. But there isn’t. It won’t sell.”

Of “Atlas Shrugged” doing the rounds some fourteen years later, “… the book is much too long. There are too many long speeches… I regret to say that the book is unsaleable and unpublishable.”

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“Lady Windermere’s Fan” by Oscar Wilde

‘My dear sir, I have read your manuscript.  Oh, my dear sir.’

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Jorge Luis Borges

‘utterly untranslatable’

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Isaac Bashevis Singer

‘It’s Poland and the rich Jews again.’

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Anais Nin

‘There is no commercial advantage in acquiring her, and, in my opinion, no artistic.’

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Dr Seuss

“too different from other juveniles on the market to warrant its selling.”

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Beatrix Potter

“The Tale Of Peter Rabbit” was turned down so many times, Potter initially self-published it.

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Rudyard Kipling

Kipling received this from the editor of the San Francisco Examiner, “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.”

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“Journey Back to Love” by Mary Higgins Clark

Although mystery writer Mary Higgins Clark more recently has received a $60 plus million dollar advance on her next five books, in the early 1960s when she was sending out her manuscript of “Journey Back to Love” the publishers were not so generous, saying things like, “We found the heroine as boring as her husband did.”

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Colette

Classic writer Colette was told in a letter of rejection, “I wouldn’t be able to sell 10 copies.”

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Emily Dickinson

Only seven of Emily Dickinson’s poems were ever published during her lifetime. A rejection early in her career said, “(Your poems) are quite as remarkable for defects as for beauties and are generally devoid of true poetical qualities.”

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Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

‘… overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian … the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy.  It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.