It’s a shame when something incredibly helpful also happens to be incredibly rare. The personalised rejection is one such thing. If personalised rejections were a species, they’d be on the critically endangered list. Personalising a rejection turns a slammed door into a gently closed one, leaving you with that touch of hope that the next door might actually open wide and invite you in. Not only that, it can give you an insight into what prevented that editor inviting you over the threshold, and that can make all the difference.
I had one such rejection this week. I’ve got a story that’s been doing the rounds for a while now, and I finally had it rejected with more than just a ‘Sorry, this isn’t quite right for us’. The personalisation was brief – a single line, actually – but it was something. And when I’d thought about it for a while, I realised it wasn’t just a token gesture of usefulness, it actually was useful. It made me look at the story again. I saw my opening paragraph in a new light, and revamped it as a result. It’s not radically different, but it’s stronger and more intriguing. There’s no question it’s better now than it was this time last week, and all because of one single line that gave me an insight into why one particular editor chose to pass on it.
It’s clear why personalised rejections are lesser-spotted beasts. The very few publications I see that promise something personalised over a form rejection are usually fledgling ones that have yet to be jaded by the amount of time involved in replying individually to every submission they receive. You see plenty that apologise for their lack of personalisation, often stating they used to offer more than a form rejection in their early days, but time constraints have taken over. It’s completely understandable, but it’s still a shame. We writers need all the help we can get to rise above the slush. One tiny piece of insight can make a world of difference.