Great Rejection from Lisa Bankoff


I feel history about to repeat itself. I'm remembering when I received a query years back from an unknown writer whose manuscript caught my attention. I knew he had something exciting going on but I didn't make an essential connection with the work-- didn't quite 'get' it. I told him the truth, he found an agent elsewhere, and has since had more than a few bestsellers. That unknown writer is Christopher Moore. 

With your book, I have that same certainty about its potential but also that same underlying disconnect. But I want to recommend a colleague who might be a good fit. His name is __________ and you can reach him at Tell him I sent you.

Good luck and all the best,

Good Rejection from Upstreet

Dear Jackson Bliss:

I'm sorry to tell you that we won't be using the work you submitted to the tenth issue of Upstreet. This issue has not been easy to get into. Out of almost three hundred submitted essays, we will be publishing fewer than ten.

I hope you won't let this deter you from submitting to Upstreet again. We will always be glad to read and consider your work. Best of luck with your writing, and thank you for letting us read " . . ." which has been on our short list since we received it.


V***** D*****

Editor/Publisher, upstreet
P.O. Box 105
Richmond, MA 01254-0105

Good Rejection from The Southern Review

I know the slip is crooked (I know I know), but I appreciate the brevity of this good rejection.  I only wish I could make out the hieroglyphic editorial signature.  Either way, this short story has gotten a shitload of positive responses, so I think it's only a matter of time before it gets picked up.  This shit is gonna happen, whether people like it or not.

Good Rejection from Esquire

Dear Jackson Bliss:

Thank you for sending us " ---". We really enjoyed this piece, but we didn't feel it was right for Esquire at this time.

We hope that you will continue to send us your work. When and if you do, please keep the following in mind:

*We want stories that feel especially timely and urgent and speak to current events and the state of the world around us.
* We cannot consider stories longer than 5,000 words.

* We ask that you use 12-point font, double-spaced. Verdana or Times New Roman preferred. Be sure your name, contact information, story title, and word count are at the top of your document and please remember to number your pages



The Editors of Esquire
2013-08-16 12:27:01 (GMT -4:00)

Good Rejection from Narrative

Dear Jackson Bliss:

Thank you for sending your work to Narrative. We are always grateful for the opportunity to review new material, and we have given " . . " close attention and careful consideration. We found many strengths to recommend your work and, overall, much to admire. We regret, however, that " . . . " is not quite right for us. We encourage you try us again in the future, and we hope that you will.


The Editors

Good Rejection from the Paris Review

Yo, I realize this rejection is a far cry from an acceptance.  In fact, they're not even in the same orbit.  I know, I know.  I also realize that the axis on this note is crooked, no editorial assistant or editor bothered to sign her/his name or write one incomprehensible but encouraging sentence in pen, instantly humanizing the cold, mechanical rejection process.  I'm painfully aware of all of these details--trust me.  If I paid any more attention to detail, people would stop accusing me of being metrosexual and start accusing me of being The Other Sex, to be wildly essentialistic.  But after getting nothing but impersonal form rejections from the Paris Review for years, it is just a tiny little bump to finally get a good rejection from such an awesome literary journal.  And while I think having a literary agent would make this process so much more damn viable for me, and while I've read fiction in the Paris Review that is as good, occasionally, better + also worse than the story they just rejected, I feel like it's very possible with more hard work, determination + a lot of luck, that I will get a story published in this journal sometime sooner than later.

Anyway, Paris Review, expect a new kickass story in the mail as soon as I'm done with this motherfucking dissertation chapter.  Then it's your turn!  And I'm bringing the big guns this time.  I'm gonna glock my way to publication.

Good Rejection from N+1

Dear Jackson,

Thank you for submitting " . . ." to us. I enjoyed reading it; it is a very strong essay that deftly explores its subject matter. Unfortunately, however, we're unable to accept it for publication at n+1 at this time.
I wish you the best in finding publication for your essay and in your writing career. And please feel free to submit again to us in the future.

W*** W*******

(Another) Good Rejection from A Public Space

Dear Jackson Bliss,

Thank you for your patience. We had a chance to read " . . . " this month, and while we are returning this piece, we would be interested in reading more of your work and encourage you to submit again when you have new work.

Our submission system reopens on September 15. In the meantime, please join us on Twitter or visit our website ( to keep in touch.

Thank you again for thinking of APS for " . . . " We hope you have a lovely summer!

With very best wishes,
A Public Space

At Least I Know My Writing is Hot

And the battle continues, my friends:

Dear Jackson Bliss,

Pleased to have your project, " . . .", what a provocative title.  Clearly, your writing is HOT, which is why Tom Boyle recommended you, I’m sure.  And yet, I’ve found that I’m just not connecting w the material in the way I’d hoped, and am having some trouble w the narrative voice. It somehow reads more like a memoir than a novel, and can feel predictable. Of course, I could be totally wrong about this, and a big house may be excited to sign on. Otherwise I see this as a better fit for a smaller house, in which case you don’t necessarily need an agent. This is entirely an objective opinion, as you know, and I’ll wish you the very best with another agency!

Shall be cheering you on, and thank you again for the look, and for Tom’s kind referral.

Sandy Dijkstra

After the bad news, I did the one thing that always makes sense after a big rejection, I submitted my novel to Graywolf Press.  Ding, ding:  Round 9.

Good Rejection from Missouri Review


Thank you for allowing us to consider " . . . " for publication in The Missouri Review. The writing is stout and polished and has a strong sense of style, but, unfortunately, the story does not currently fit our needs. We appreciate your interest in our magazine and your commitment to quality writing.

We wish you the best of luck publishing your work and hope you continue to send us more selections in the future.

The Editors

Good Rejection from Milkweed Editions

I know this is a form rejection (I know I know I know I know), but compared to the last rejection I got from Milkweed, this one feels so much more supportive + appreciative, that I decided to post it anyway, just because it made me feel kinda good, even though this is the second book of mine they've rejected. Anyway, here it is:

Dear Jackson Bliss,

Thank you for letting us consider " . . . " which we’ve read with much interest. I’m afraid, though, it isn't quite right for Milkweed Editions.

Please understand that we assemble our small list from the enormous number of manuscripts we receive each year, which means that we must make difficult decisions about manuscripts such as yours. Often these decisions have less to do with the quality of your work, and more to do with the incredibly competitive climate surrounding manuscript review. Please know that we’ve appreciated the opportunity to spend time with " . . . " and your patience in awaiting a reply.

We wish you all the best in your continued literary endeavors, and thank you for thinking of Milkweed Editions.

Ben Barnhart
Milkweed Editions

2011-12-07 16:52:10 (GMT -6:00)

Good Rejection from McSweeney's

Hi Jackson Bliss --

Thanks for letting us read " . . . " We rely on stories like yours, since a good portion of what we publish comes to us unsolicited. Unfortunately, we can't find a place for this piece in our next few issues--but we liked it, so we hope you’ll continue submitting. If you do, please include the word “ . . . ” at the front of your subject line—that way, we’ll be sure to see it. We're always looking, so send us something anytime.

Thanks again,

C****** H****

Good Rejection from the Florida Review

Dear Jackson Bliss,

Thank you for your interest in The Florida Review and for the opportunity to read your work. While we found the flash pieces engaging, this submission doesn't fit our current needs. We encourage you to send more of your work in the future.

Darlin' Neal
Fiction Editor

Good Rejection from the Indiana Review

Dear Jackson Bliss:

Thank you for sending these three shorts to Indiana Review. We really enjoyed them, particularly "Cabrón"—the voice is well honed and the story is compelling—but ultimately found them not right for IR at this time. Please take this short email as a note of encouragement to continue sending us work.

Best wishes,

R***** L***
Fiction Editor
Indiana Review

Even though I always appreciate editors taking the time to send me a good a response, I always wonder: If a story had such a well-honed voice + was so compelling, why don't you want the story? I mean, personally, if I thought a story had a well-honed voice + was compelling + I really enjoyed it, why the hell wouldn't I want to publish it? Did I lose out to the group vote? Did the IR receive other manuscripts where the voice was better honed and more compelling? Was it just a question of personal taste + style? Who the fuck really knows, man. I'm flattered, but I'm also pissed off.

Good Rejection from Fairy Tale Review #2

Ugh, another good rejection. And while very gracious + kind, I think I may be done submitting stories to the Fairytale Review. I like the journal a lot (+ several of my friends have published stories in TFR), but so few of my own stories really fit the journal's aesthetic + I think I've run out of workable manuscripts. Too bad. Anyway, here's the rejection:

Hi Jackson,

I'm so sorry that I've taken so long to respond--unforgivable, truly.
I want--terribly badly, in fact--to craft a perfectly balanced issue
that everyone will love, but my response time has suffered from this
obsessive consideration, and I am finally having to make the hard
choices. I've read your fine story several times now.

Only by way of narrowing since there were sososososo many great
submissions, I chose a very specific aspect of my already very
specific theme to follow, otherwise I wouldn't have known how to
possibly choose just a few. I'm heartbroken to say that these didn't
turn out to be a perfect fit amidst the other pieces I chose. But this
issue will be just one (hopefully beautiful) specific arrangement made
from me selecting key symbolic threads (within my theme of lost
children, no less!) that we received within the submissions--that is
to say, please submit again!! I do hope you enjoy the issue, and that
you'll give us another chance. Please let me know when this story
finds a home elsewhere as well, so that I may celebrate with you and
enjoy it once more.

With admiration,


Alissa Nutting
Guest Editor, The Grey Issue
Fairy Tale Review

Good Rejection from Ploughshares

Normally I don't give a shit about form rejections, even when readers/editors press the good rejection button. But since it's Ploughshares, that kinda makes it more meaningful. And even though everyone knows you have to be a creative writing faculty member to publish your shit in that journal, still, for a few seconds, it almost felt good to read this:

Dear Jackson Bliss:

Thanks very much for submitting your work to Ploughshares. Although we regret that your manuscript does not fit our current editorial needs, we enjoyed it and hope you'll consider us again.


The Editors of Ploughshares

2011-10-02 21:06:08 (GMT -4:00)