Rejection Questionnaires?


Having had yet another rejected short story returned this week, I got to thinking about the worst aspect of this process. Every writer – no matter how successful – has to live with rejection, but it’s the unanswered question I find hard to take. Why?

I think there should be a number of tick boxes on the rejection letter – a rejection questionnaire, if you like – so the editor can tick the appropriate box, and thereby put the offending author out of their misery. It could go something like this:


  • Exceeded required word count
  • Word count insufficient
  • Similar theme to others already accepted
  • Subject matter not suitable for publication
  • Hook not strong enough to compel reader
  • Poor/unsatisfactory ending
  • Storyline sags midway
  • Unbelievable characters
  • Incredulous plot

And the nightmare one:

  • Badly written, so don’t bother sending any more to our magazine – we’re not interested!

It may be cutthroat, but at least the author would then be able to address the issue(s) rather than spend hours mulling over her/his capabilities as a writer. So come on editors… give us a break!

What do you think?

Image credit: photoman / 123RF Stock Photo

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4 Responses to Rejection Questionnaires?

  1. Julie
    I think it’s a great idea. I’d love to know why TAB keep rejecting my stories!! (am I near the mark or way off, for example?!) but I can’t see the magazines doing it – it will just take them too much time and there’s the danger that the writer will then come back with a ‘but the story was 1000 words and you say in your guidelines that you accept 1000 word stories…’ etc etc (eg: if they ticked the ‘too long’ box). I think if they’re turning down a story, they want as little interaction with the ‘rejectee’ (ooh, terrible word, in so many ways) as possible. Sorry to sound a bit negative, but if I was in their shoes, that’s how I’d feel.

    • JWow Admin says:

      You’re probably right, but it would be nice to know rather than potentially making all the same mistakes over again. Some miracle may happen when an unsuspecting editor inadvertently encounters my blog to think it’s a great idea… 3,2,1, back in the room. I’m such a misguided fool! Thanks for taking the time to comment, though.

  2. Rosemary says:

    Tick box? Yes. Good idea. Not knowing why is often the hardest part, although rejection of any kind is always hard, even though, we know…. we’re always being told… all writers do get rejected. Keep going, Julie. We’ll both get there one day!

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