How To Write a Rejection Letter

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Anyone who works with freelance writers needs to be able to write a firm, yet friendly rejection letter.  Not all submissions are going to be right for your publication or web site.  Some may be quality pieces, but not right for your market or duplicate something you have published recently.

Writing a professional -- and kind -- rejection letter when you are not able to use a writer's work is important.  Just because you can't buy the work in question, you don't want to discourage the writer from ever contacting you again.  Also, writers talk, and you don't want to get a reputation for being difficult or mean.

To write a professional, yet firm rejection letter, consider the following points:

  1. Be professional.  When writing a rejection letter, use a formal business letter style with a greeting, body and closing.  Type the letter on your company's letterhead and sign it by hand; never handwrite a rejection letter.  Be sure to thank the person for submitting his work and maintain a friendly tone to the letter.
  2. Find something positive to say about the work. Be sure to say something nice about the submission.  Even though you can't use it, it may be excellent work.  If all else fails, praise the writer's enthusiasm.
  3. Be concise.  No one enjoys receiving a rejection letter.  Don't belabor the process by going on and on about why you can't use the submission.  Simply state the facts.
  4. State why you are rejecting the work, if possible.  If you can, tell the person why you can't use his submission.  Perhaps it's something you've just covered in a previous issue.  Maybe it's not quite on topic for your web site or magazine.  Maybe it needs to be longer (or shorter) or more specific (or more general).  Enclose your publication's writer's guidelines, if applicable.
  5. Leave open the possibility of future work, if possible. Any publication or web site that depends on freelance writers to fill its blank pages or space can't afford to alienate any writers.  Be sure to invite the writer to submit his work again.  If it makes sense, and if you have time, give suggestions as to what and when to submit in the future.

Writing a rejection letter is a necessary part of running a web site or a magazine.  What's important is to communicate that you are unable to accept the work without rejecting the person who wrote it.


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