On a Scale From 0 to 10

This post was updated on 7/19/18. 


If you read this, you are probably a writer. Most people are nowadays. All you need is a smart phone (or maybe a computer) and a dream. And every writer must be in want of a publication. You submit and then you wait. And then you get a reply.

If you expected a Yes, any No is painful, unless you were subconsciously hoping for a failure. A rejection from a publication or an agent is no different. But pain level varies, usually rated on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you can imagine. And we, writers, are imaginative people. We feel your pain. We feel our own pain even more acutely.

I wonder if some form rejections sent by the first-rate editors or agents are written by a second-rate trial lawyer with a help of a third-rate psychologist. Maybe a sensitive author once tried to commit suicide after getting a rejection, and now they are covering their asses?

But in fact, they are so painful that they go off the scale.

Don’t despair. Please remember that this is a highly subjective industry, and what doesn’t work for me may be exactly what another agent loves. It only takes one yes to get you in the door!

They didn’t even forget the exclamation point. And they are wrong about a single yes, BTW. A manuscript needs so many yeses, especially if it’s a book.


Unfortunately, after careful review, I have decided to pass on this project. This industry is incredibly subjective, and there are many agencies out there with many different ​tastes. It is for this reason that I strongly encourage you to keep submitting elsewhere in the hopes of finding an agent who will be an enthusiastic champion for you and your work.

The only thing is missing is this:

The fastest way to produce a book is to bang on the keyboard repeatedly. We encourage you to do that often, but don’t blame us for getting carpal syndrome.

Some rejections go straight for the jugular.

The volume of submissions we receive, however, makes it impossible to correspond with everyone personally.

With everyone… Don’t you feel good already? You are just a member of a vast ocean of nobodies, just another insignificant drop. Your work is no different from any other identical, putrid drops. 10 on the scale of pain.

I carefully read and consider each submission I receive. Or Thank you for giving me a chance to carefully consider your submission.

Baloney. Either you get very few submissions or you are lying about “I carefully read” or “carefully consider” through your teeth. If I gave you a chance, you blew it.  7-8 on the scale of pain.

Many agents add a twist: “Please remember this is just one agent’s opinion, and there may well be other agents who feel differently.”

Right. They are genuinely afraid that I will abandon writing after my first rejection. But wait a minute! Wouldn’t it be to their best interests if I do? Unless it was their understanding of psychology 101? Unless they were afraid that I commit suicide and my heirs would sue them? Imagine the headlines: an agent drove the writer to the brink. That was 5 on the scale of pain.

“Hi there,”

Well, my name is not There, and if it were, you’d have to capitalize it. 3 on the scale of pain.

I’m going to pass on this one because I found it didn’t spark my interest. 

Right. Why’s can’t everyone reject like that? Not sweet, but short and to the point. One might say it sparks.  2 on the scale of pain.

Or. We’re passing but thanks so much for giving us a chance here. No reason is given, but it’s inoffensive and therefore it’s also a 2.

The ideal rejection implies that your work is good or even great, but the statistics and the personal choices of the editors temporarily conspired against you.

After all, no one types a form rejection. They are either pasted or, better yet, selected from the menu.

We receive a large number of submissions but can only publish one in a hundred. Since our space is limited, we must often pass on well-crafted writing.

This one is the best. The editors don’t want to reject your outstanding opus, but they must. They are overwhelmed by the sheer number of well-crafted writing (like yours). You are still great. You are still loved. You will succeed.  Pain level 1. Almost an acceptance. Wipe your tears and soldier on.


Mark rejects and gets rejections.

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