by Tamela Hancock Murray
When I first started writing, not for a letter grade in college, but in hopes of a paycheck — or at least a byline — I solicited you with many articles, devotionals, short stories, and book-length manuscripts. Each was posted with dreams of finding your favor. More often than not, you sliced those dreams with your pens of rejection.
And for that, I want to thank you.
Thank you for declining work that missed the point, meandered before getting to the point, didn’t fit into any reasonable market, could substitute for Sominex, or was proof of my love affair with adverbs. Really. Since then, adverbs and I have parted ways, except for the occasional daring flirtation. I promise.
I also want to thank you for your patience in reviewing my work. For declaring I have talent. For handwritten assurances that you were sorry you couldn’t publish my work. For telling me I had something to say. For constructive criticism that helped me see my mistakes. For notes scribbled on top of my query letters. Those scribbles were among the most honest and helpful tips I received.
As I grew in my writing and rejections turned into acceptances, I know I am indebted to you all. Today, I send my gratitude to every editor I encountered that I now enjoy the privilege of working with Steve Laube and sending you this letter through the well-read blog of this wonderful literary agency.
What is the most helpful advice you have received in a rejection letter?
What do you do when you don’t agree with the advice you receive?