Rejection Letters: What Do You Do With Them?
I've been wondering what others do with their rejection letters.
At first I kept all of them. The "keep trying" ones I liked because they threw me a bone. A few even recommended other literary agents. The ones that have handwritten replies at least reminds me that there are human beings out there on the other end who took a few moments to acknowledge my existence.
But I can't stand the form letters. Yeah, I know the agents get hundreds of query letters and they can't respond personally to all of them. I don't care. If I'm investing the time, the sweat and the postage to look up the agent's name, spell it correctly, write a polite and through letter and include a SASE, I don't think it's too much to ask for a little acknowledgement from the other guy.
Maybe that's unreasonable, but I can't help it.
I don't keep my rejection letters anymore. I no longer harbor the fantasy of watching them burn in the fireplace of my new mansion as I sit sipping fine brandy and contemplating my next best-seller. I just note where they came from, cross that agent off my list and move on. I take John F. Kennedy's advice to "forgive your enemies, but never forget their names." Literary agents that turn me down aren't my enemy, but you get the idea.
That's my method. What's yours?
Re: Rejection Letters: What Do You Do With Them?
I keep 'em all. They form quite the little stack now. At the book release party for my first novel, I plan to have them on display in a three-ring binder, a mute testament to the incredible effort it takes to succeed.
PS - A practical reason to retain your rejection letters is to prove to the IRS that those expenses you've been deducting (conferences, seminars, etc.) are legitimate.
Re: What rejection letters?
I keep them with submission details, notes on speed of reply etc. Even the form letters leak information: if they are unattractive and poorly set out, that puts me off the company. They often reveal hoiw up to date the firm's practices are, too; there are still plenty of dinosaurs about. And handwriting is always interesting: if you know how to read it you can learn a lot about the person behind it. (Some people write dashed-off scribble, others write careful English. Maybe it shouldn't, but that influences me.) I'm not submitting on my own account at the moment, but if/when the time comes round that I have to, I may check through my previous rejections (and a few acceptances for stories and articles) to see if I can find chinks of light.
I also keep copies of e-mail correspondence in the same folder, as well as in an e-mail folder.
Re: What do you do with them?
I had slips dating back to 1973. Except for two current projects, I tossed the rest. Most of them were in neat little folders. Newer ones were helter-skelter, much the way my life has been for the last several years. I was amazed that I submitted that much and that often. LOL. Even shredded the acceptance letters. Only kept the published works.
Re: What do you do with them?
I hammered a ten-inch nail through a small board, which I keep under my desk at home.
I must admit, I do gain a touch of satisfaction each time I skewer a rejection letter onto that nail
If I ever reach the top of that nail and have not yet been published, I may have to regroup and consider if its all worth it.
Sometimes, I used to be tempted to use them as toilet paper.
I keep them tucked away in a drawer. I like Ed's idea; I think I'll borrow it in the event of publication.
I keep all of them in a drawer. Two days after my mss sold I received one (that i'd sent out four months before) that really stung. That one I've taped up on the wall of my workstation.
Stephen King used to skewer his rejections on a nail in his office, too.
I keep all of mine. They're a good reference, because I sometimes forget to mark off the agents on my database.
I have a sizable pile, but people keep telling me that each rejection brings us closer to an acceptance. I certainly hope so!