Monday, November 5, 2012

Rejection and Acceptance Letter Etiquette: An Update

About three weeks ago I posted a query to writers and editors alike: Should a writer respond back to acceptance and/or rejection letters? You can read the original post here.

I had never read any articles about it nor had I ever discussed it with fellow writers. I felt it was a subject that needed to be addressed.

An issue that arose regarding my post was there needed to be a distinction between writers having work accepted for an online publication versus print. Correspondence with an editor for a print publication won’t end with the acceptance letter. There are contracts to sign, galley proofs to review, royalty negotiations, etc. In general, and this is my personal experience, online pub acceptances are more akin to “handshake” agreements, based on writer guideline rights, and require less follow-up.

As most of the responses I received were on my Facebook post, I thought I’d share these opinions here at the blog as well.

“I usually respond to acceptances, just to say thank you and to let them know that I am still interested because I find a lot of acceptance notices request confirmation of this.” - Chantal Boudreau (Writer)

“I respond to most with a thank you, looking forward to publication, etc, or with requested information.” - Erin Cole (Writer)

“I always respond to an acceptance with a thank you.” – Thomas Pluck (Writer)

“I usually send off a ‘thank you’ for acceptances...” – Chris Allinotte (Writer)

“It is extremely important to reply to every acceptance. The editor has liked your work. You really need to let them know you have read their acceptance letter. To not respond is in very poor taste, and grounds for an editor to never accept anything else from the writer. We editors want a response when we accept your work. If we don't get that response, however short ("Thank you!" etc.) then we are left feeling you couldn't care less.” - Scathe Meic Beorh (Editor of The Bradburyesque Quarterly)

“As an editor, I don't expect a reply to anything other than a revision request. That said, I think the whole editorial staff at Every Day Fiction does one of your "butt chair wiggles" when we hear back from writers (accepted or rejected) thanking us for the time we put into our responses. As a writer, I always respond positively to both acceptances and rejections. It might just be a little drop of good karma, but every drop helps."
- J. C. Towler (Writer and editor at Every Day Fiction)

“Editors are inundated with mail, and unless they’ve written something that warrants a reply, etiquette demands I stay quiet. If it’s a book, the acceptance leads to a steady flow of mail, understandably.” - Rumjhum Biswas (Writer)

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.” - Rhonda Parrish (Writer and editor of Niteblade Magazine)

“I hardly ever respond to rejections. The rare time I do, it is in response to useful feedback provided with the rejection (they get a thank you to let them know I appreciate their time and consideration) and in one case I responded because one publisher sent me a rejection notice more than a year after I had submitted a short story.” - Chantal Boudreau (Writer)

Editor rejected story but gave feedback on why. I responded to ask, if I changed the story in that way, would she like to see it again. Only done this one once, though she responded that yes, she did want to see the next draft.” John Wiswell (Writer)

“I never respond, unless like you, they have taken the time to give me valuable feedback.” - Erin Cole (Writer)

“I have responded to a few rejections when they had nice things to say but it wasn’t a good fit for them. I do not see a downside to being pleasant and professional. It is an investment which costs nothing.” – Thomas Pluck (Writer)

“... like you, if the rejection comes with helpful notes of any kind, I thank them for that too. Beyond that - no. The editors have sent out their letters and are now on to building the book/issue/etc, and most likely don’t want extra correspondence at that point.” – Chris Allinotte (Writer)

Replying to rejections? Sometimes, if the editor has said something important. I have noted this through the years: query letters for short stories get them published far quick than without them. This is because the editor is developing a relationship with you as an actual person.” - Scathe Meic Beorh (Editor of The Bradburyesque Quarterly)

“Book rejections, if a form rejection, does not require a response."
- Rumjhum Biswas (Writer)

“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.’ 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. 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.” – Crystal Connor (Writer)

“As a writer I never reply to rejection letters for reasons that are probably obvious. (As an editor) 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 argumentative) but they aren’t necessary either.” - Rhonda Parrish (Writer and editor of Niteblade Magazine)


In his memoir ‘A Simple Act of Gratitude’ author John Kralik writes about how sending ‘thank-you’ notes changed his life. Based on the responses above, maybe it’s time I made this very same change.

Thank you to all the writers and editors who took the time to share their views.



  1. Unsurprised with Towler's professional and positive take on responses. Lovely idea for a meta-post, Angel.

  2. It is a great thing to post about this type of subject: we all write, submit, query, interact with editors/publishers, etc., but none of us knows how everyone else does it, assuming much of the time, it must just be similar to what we do.

    I've wanted to read others' submission letters in general, especially novel submissions, because I often feel like a dork writing them.