If you are a writer, you have likely grown accustomed to the polite, or even insulting, rejections from publishers or editors. My personal favorite rejection came a few years ago when my agent at the time was told by an editor at a large New York publishing house that he was passing on my book proposal, but he “would gladly buy the book if someone else published it.”
The writing website Lithub recently shared a series of rejections received by renowned authors such as Ursula K. LeGuin. Have a giggle.
From an unnamed editor to Ursula K. Le Guin’s agent, Virginia Kidd, upon receipt of The Left Hand of Darkness:
Dear Miss Kidd,
Ursula K. Le Guin writes extremely well, but I’m sorry to have to say that on the basis of that one highly distinguishing quality alone I cannot make you an offer for the novel. The book is so endlessly complicated by details of reference and information, the interim legends become so much of a nuisance despite their relevance, that the very action of the story seems to be to become hopelessly bogged down and the book, eventually, unreadable. The whole is so dry and airless, so lacking in pace, that whatever drama and excitement the novel might have had is entirely dissipated by what does seem, a great deal of the time, to be extraneous material. My thanks nonetheless for having thought of us. The manuscript of The Left Hand of Darkness is returned herewith. Yours sincerely,
21 June, 1968
This unreadable novel was published in 1969 by Ace Books, launching Le Guin to fame, and winning both the Hugo and Nebula awards. Many years later, Le Guin posted this rejection on her website with a note to aspiring writers: Hang in there!