In each issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, we ask one reader to step into the role of the unconvinced, perhaps even curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor. What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some of our favorite hit books have had to endure? We need more of those short-sighted rejection letters!
If you’d like to be the one doing the rebuffing, channel the most clueless of editors by humorously rejecting a hit in 300 words or fewer. Then submit your letter via email (no attachments, please!) to firstname.lastname@example.org with Reject a Hit: [Book Title]” in the subject line.
Reject a Hit is humorous, but not mean-spirited. It is not the place to list all the reasons you hate a particular book. To help you understand the spirit of Reject a Hit, here are some excerpts from spoof rejections we’ve published in the past:
To Margaret Wise Brown regarding Goodnight Moon:
Parents will not like this idea of mush sitting out all night. No wonder a young mouse is running around. By mentioning air you are not lulling children to sleep—just the opposite. Soon they’ll be sitting up in bed and asking, “Is that what’s making the noise? Does it taste like mush? Is that what’s keeping the balloon up?” Parents do not want to answer questions at bedtime.They want their children to quickly fall asleep so they can finally read their own books.
To Washington Irving regarding “Rip Van Winkle”:
We received your short story “Rip Van Winkle.” What a snoozer. A man walks into a forest and falls asleep for 20 YEARS? I’m dozing off just rejecting you.
To George Orwell regarding Animal Farm:
[Y]our work depicts episodes of hen slaughter, horses turned to glue, as well as pigs not only imbibing alcohol, but actually cultivating their own microbrewery? And would you care to explain how a windmill is built by a community composed of claws, wings and hooves? Not one opposable thumb in the bunch. For God’s sake, man!
To Homer regarding The Illiad:
The loose poetic style you have chosen is ancient and outdated. To make a sale, try a rhyming verse. While it’s difficult, some poetry editor out there may be impressed that someone could rhyme Herakles and Agamemnon.
We even convinced Ransom Riggs, author of the bestselling Peculiar Children series, to try his hand at rejecting a hit. He chose the Lord of the Rings trilogy:
It’s so long. It’s in Elvish, whatever that is. Nothing like this has ever been published. And who’s going to be interested in these tiny little hairy, ape-footed beings? This is the time for serious literature, sir, not made-up fairly tales. You take yourself very seriously.
And finally, to further help you decide which hit you’d like to wittily dismantle, here is a mostly-complete list of titles we’ve already sent back to their authors for revision. Please do not send submissions pertaining to any of the following, as they have already been soundly rejected:
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Elements of Style by EB White
The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Fun With Dick & Jane by Gray and Sharp
Marley & Me by John Grogan
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Romeo & Juliet by Shakespeare
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Crime & Punishment by Dostoyevsky
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
The Odyssey by Homer
Charlotte’s Web by EB White
Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
“Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
My Life at The New York Times by Jayson Blair
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Old Man & The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
Tulips & Chimneys by e. e. cummings
The Shining by Stephen King
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams