Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Old-timey Rejection Letters, Part II

Monday I told you about my great-grandmother and her attempts to get her completed, 43,000 word middle grade (or younger) children's book, Little-My-Dearie, published in 1932. She had seven rejection letters in the pile I got my hot little hands on, and I really enjoyed the overly-formal language the letters contained. Especially when couching the "No" in condescension that is rarely found in today's rejections.

One of the best, which I saved for you today, is from Writer's Digest. I don't have Grandma Hickok's original letter to them but I am guessing from their reply that she wrote to them asking for help in finding a publisher. Their response is a little over the top. It also sounds like they will help her out for some kind of fee--I'm not aware of their business model in 1932. Anyway, here it is. (Click on image for larger view; text is repeated below the image for your reading convenience.)


Dear Miss Hickok:

I have before me your letter of August 26 asking where you should send your book. If I would ask you this question: "I have a pain, which doctor should I see?", [sic] you would answer, "go to a specialist depending upon where your pain is, [sic] and if you knew doctors very well you would tell me exactly which specialist was the best for the particular pain I had.

Since we know nothing about your book we cannot give you any information on where to sell it. I suggest that you send your book to us for a free reading at no obligation to yourself. We will then inform you whether or not in our opinion we believe it is worth further effort and, if do so, we shall advise you our service on it, which you may reject or accept.

When sending your novel to us, please refer to this letter as otherwise we will not know why it has been sent. We have worked with a good number of first novelists with success.

Thanks for coming along with me on this (what I think is) fascinating look at a personal history of submission and response.

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