Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bring back rejection letters

Writers through the ages have been able to wallpaper their garrets with rejection letters. But now, writes Keith Kahn-Harris in the Guardian, in the age of electronic communication, the traditional letter is being replaced with either an email or no reply at all.
Twelve publishers rejected JK Rowling before Bloomsbury picked up the Harry Potter books. Whole books have been published collecting rejection letters, allowing us to feel smug at the hapless readers who turned down Borges, Stephen King or John Le Carré.

Yet the biographies of future cultural luminaries are going to be thinner for losing this well-loved component of the artists; stories. For rejection today is increasingly communicated not in cuttingly short-sighted (or even far-sighted) screeds, but in something even more unpleasant – the resounding silence. In many spheres of contemporary life, not just in the cultural industries, explicit rejection is giving way to a convention in which non-response has become the way to turn people down.


  1. It’s come to the point where any self-respecting writer should compose their own rejection letter to include with their script submission, along with a stamped addressed envelope.

  2. Nah, the company would only steam off the stamp.

  3. Danny Collins5:27 pm

    But doesn't the JK Rowling story show us the farce of it all? I've been through countless the rejections and am now working on my fifth published book, due out next June 2010. My advice to everyone out there is to keep plugging away. Don't let these snotty pompous know alls grind you down. Somewhere out there is a publisher who'll take you seriously. Onwards and upwards.


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