Friday, October 19, 2012

Rejection and Acceptance Letter Etiquette: When should a writer respond?


Should a writer respond back to acceptance and/or rejection letters? I’m not sure if there’s a true standard practice, but here’s my take on the issue:
Acceptances— I do not reply to 97% of manuscript acceptances. I do smile and sometimes perform a happy, ‘wiggle my butt in the chair as I read it’ dance, but I won’t respond unless I need to sign and return a contract. My 3% exception is for those acceptance letters that are more than just a form response. If an editor takes the time to communicate specific passages from my manuscript they liked or loved, I want to make sure they know I appreciate it.

Rejections— I do not reply to 99% of rejections. The remaining 1% is reserved for editors who provide an unsolicited critique with the rejection letter. This is a rare, invaluable opportunity for honest-to-goodness feedback, and in my opinion, deserves— at the very least— a sincere thank you for their efforts and time.


Editors— What are your expectations?

Writers— What is your practice?


  1. As a writer I never reply to rejection letters for reasons that are probably obvious. I do, always, reply to acceptance letters. Usually it's just a little note that expresses my happiness at the acceptance and anticipation about working with them/seeing my work in their pages/whatever. My reasoning is a) I want to establish a relationship with that editor since I'll be working with them, and also for potential future projects b) sometimes letters don't say when publication is expected, I like to get an estimate at least c) it seems like the right thing to do.

    As an editor I appreciate it when the writer responds to an acceptance letter because it helps make them real to me, rather than just some nebulous form around a pen name. Also, since we'll be working on edits and stuff together, it's nice to get started in a friendly-type way. I never expect or want replies to rejection letters though, even to personal rejection letters. There's nothing wrong with them (so long as they aren't arrogant or arguementative) but they aren't necessary either.

    ~ Rhonda Parrish

  2. Wow, this is a really good post, as a writer I had no idea there was a response etiquette.

    I always respond to rejection letters with a hand written note thanking them for their time and consideration in regards my story. I also include a $2.50 Visa gift card with a note saying ‘this cuppa Joe is on me.’

    You can always tell the difference between a review left by a happy customer or loyal fan and one that was written by a professional. About a year ago I stumbled across a really good review for my 1st novel that wasn’t written from the perspective of fan. When I looked up the critic I found out it was an editor who rejected one of my short stories.

    And at a convention a woman walked up to my booth handed me her card and asked if I knew who she was, when I told her no, she reminded me that I sent her a thank you note for a rejection letter. She bought two of my books and said she wasn’t surprised to see me doing well.

    The very last editor that received a response from me over a rejection letter follows me on my blog.

    This is not what I thought would happen when I sent those thank you notes, there was no ulterior motive. I sent them because I wanted to say thank you. I can only imagine how many stories a submissions editor must get over the course of just one year. I thank God that I don’t have a job where I could only pick two awesome stories if I had 15 awesome stories in front of me…brutal.

    I always respond because I never knew I wasn’t supposed to.