I've Been Rejected!!!

I recieved my first rejection letter for Alchemy via e-mail yesterday, July 30, at 11:06 AM. Let me give you a brief, generalized overview of the publishing process, so you can understand why I'm so excited about being rejected =)

Your first step in getting published, after you've written the book, is to send off a "query" to agents or publishing houses that you think might be interested in your story. What exactly a query consists of varies from place to place - some will want sample chapters, some a synopsis, some an outline - you get the idea. All of them want a one-page cover letter, and if that one-page cover letter doesn't absolutely grab their attention, they won't bother to read the other stuff. In the cover letter, you are supposed to (1) explain & sell them on your idea (2) tell them who you are and what relevant experience you have, if any (3) tell them what other great books your book is like, (4) tell them why your book has a unique, competitive edge on similar works (5) explain your target audience/market, and (6) have you forgotten that you put all of this on one page?

Anyway, once you send off your query, you wait about 2-6 months to be rejected. (If you're very very fortunate, a more positive result will occur - obviously, for this I continue to hope.) You will recieve one of three kinds of rejections:

1 - The Silent Treatment. This probably means your letter sucked, and that they didn't bother reading the whole query. You didn't present yourself or your idea well enough for them to take you seriously.

2 - The Stock Rejection. "Dear Writer: We regret that we are unable to use your work at this time..." This means you did ok, they're taking you seriously enough to do you the professional courtesy of letting you know that you should be publisher-shopping elsewhere.

3 - The Personal Rejection. They liked you and your idea, they really did - but, for one reason or another, they simply can't buy your book right now. This means, keep trying!!

It was, as you may have guessed, a personal rejection that I have just recieved.

It reads:

"Well crafted query letter. One of the best in about, oh, a 1000 emails. Unfortunately we're not looking for a [Fantasy] book right now. We wish you the best of luck. You seem to know what you are doing, so you should be able to find a publisher, just keep at it."



  1. P.S. The cover letter I've been sending, for those interested, looks about like this:

    43554 Ulster Lane
    South Riding VA 20152
    (703) 327-8556

    Address 1
    Address 2

    My wife Kirsten died last night; I believe the doctors did everything they could. I’m writing you now because I need your help.
    Kaylara has recently been captivated by the idea that alchemy could provide a cure for the difficulty my country is facing. (I’m sure you’ve heard rumors; it’s true that many mages have lost their powers). Of course, it’s a preposterous notion. If our positions were reversed – if you were the father and I the godfather – you’d have squashed it immediately, too.
    Kaylara ran away last night. She must have slipped out while we were seeing to her mother. When I add my belated discovery of Kaylara’s correspondence with an older man, you will understand why the situation requires delicacy. The man’s name is one you’ll recognize: Squire Alhmad, the same whose genius gave alchemy its brief stint of respectability – until his criminal conviction. I’ve no need to explain my fears regarding their association.
    There’s another matter, as well. An Ungolai Nightlord, a prince, was murdered on our soil a fortnight ago. Other princes of his House have demanded the extradition of his killer – identity and whereabouts unknown, but I have reason to believe that Alhmad may have been involved.
    We sorely need your expertise. A scandal now, when the Governors already have their hands full preventing panic over our fading magic, would quickly become a crisis. You will be able to handle these matters with an insider’s resources and an outsider’s discretion. The Governers will trust you, as I do.
    Thank you in advance for coming.

    Roland Ette, Champion of Sangild

    Mr./Ms. :

    The events of the letter above begin my novel Alchemy, the first complete manuscript in a planned series of fantasy adventures centered on Roland Ette, his daughter Kaylara, and Kaylara’s godfather, the professional adventurer Michael of Lyhn. The novel draws upon the creativity of a group of friends whose ideas for characters and cultures have shaped Alchemy’s world ever since its initial conception six years ago. Five years ago, the combination of their ideas with my writing resulted in the fairy tale Encounters, which won 9th place in the 2002 Writers’ Digest genre short story contest. I’ve just graduated from The College of William & Mary with a concentration in English, where I spent a year re-crafting this novel under the expert eye of Ian Caldwell, co-author of the NYT bestseller The Rule of Four and William & Mary’s 2006 Writer-In-Residence. Afterwards, Ian wrote that my fiction “expresses imagination in a concrete, muscular way, without falling in love with its own ingenuity or command of language. It surprises the reader with originality, but relies on strong, traditional storytelling for its ownership of the reader’s attention.”
    Alchemy blends the socially-driven storylines of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea books with a narrative style that reads like increased RPMs for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time in a setting rich enough to rival either author’s world. It’s a political fantasy about a family caught up in one talented convict’s grand vendetta against a ruling class that despised and ignored him – a convict whose bitter plans for vengeance have engulfed their country in a curse and betrayed it to its enemies.
    Please, contact me if you would like to see the manuscript. You can use the enclosed SASP, or feel free to reply by e-mail: alchemynovel@gmail.com. Thanks for your time.

    Jason Smith

  2. That's encouraging! But it still sucks a bit.

    I'm glad you're doing this first; it means I'll have someone to ask for help.

  3. that is a seriously great and encouraging rejection. And I agree with the rejecter: well crafted query.