The Truth About Rejection Letters

BethAdvice For New Writers44 Comments

I’m going to tell you one of publishing’s best-kept secrets. It’s time for the truth to come out.

All rejection letters are written by badgers.

This industry protects this sordid secret for countless reasons — not the least of which is the terrible conditions in the industrial rejection factories. Long hours, no pay, unsanitary and and even dangerous conditions.

When I started Shimmer, John Klima took me under his wing and gave me a tour of the factory that Electric Velocipede buys its rejections from.  We had to shout to be heard over the roaring of the machines and the moans of the badgers. “You can never tell anyone about this!” Klima shouted.

Thousands and thousands of badgers, crammed into tiny rooms full of huge machines, darting among the bobbins and levers. I saw one badger get an arm tangled in the machinery. He — or she — was drawn into the machine with a terrible shriek, and disappeared.

The machines didn’t even stop.

Here’s one photo I took with my iPod camera when Klima wasn’t looking.

You can’t tell from this picture, but the stench of a badger factory is intolerable, an acrid miasma of badger feces and despair so thick you can touch it.

I knew there had to be a different way, and I vowed that Shimmer would never participate in the badger-factory rejection system. I vowed to find a better way.

Shimmer‘s rejections are written only by free-range badgers who live in companionable colonies in a wooded preserve. They work less than ten hours a week, and spend the rest of their time digging for juicy organic worms, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, and frolicking with their friends.

Two of Shimmer’s rejection badgers gambol in their free time

When it’s time for work, the badgers assemble in the back garden. Soft breezes carry the scent of honeysuckle, and dozens of butterflies brighten the soul while pollinating the masses of brilliantly colored flowers. Each badger receives a freshly sharpened quill pen, a pot of ink, and high-quality stationery.

After a period of meditation and yoga asanas for spiritual and physical purification, the badgers begin reading submissions. Each story is considered carefully, and in the unfortunate event that a rejection is necessary, the badgers carefully craft a letter to the author.

A Shimmer rejection badger considers her words


So the next time you get a rejection letter, just remember. Don’t take it personally; it was written by a badger.



BethThe Truth About Rejection Letters

44 Comments on “The Truth About Rejection Letters”

  1. Julie Frost

    Not just any badgers, either, apparently. European ones. They come to America looking for a better life and get… this. Poor things. :( Now I’m sad.

  2. Kristine

    GMO-free certification available for inspection, I assume?

    Because mutant free-range badgers have been known to go ninja during full moons.

  3. John Klima

    You are in serious trouble Wodzinski. Better have Sean start your car from now on.

  4. DanoftheDay

    Badgers, eh? That would explain the poor judgment of what does or doesn’t need to be rejected. Also accounts for the strong desire to run something over after receiving a rejection letter.

  5. Donald Conrad

    Bah, I heard it was prairie dogs. Whole towns of prairie dogs cordoned off and fed a mixed bag of unfiltered fiction which they bound into smudge sticks that were burned for weeks and months until the pulp powers released the prairie dog town to once again fend for themselves. And so it goes.

  6. David Kernot

    Funny :) I can only agree about the process having read a lot of slush for ASIM over the years. It can be quite mind-numbing. But my only submission to Shimmer received a thoroughly detailed, nice personal critique rejection from Beth. Perhaps on my next one, I’ll get a badger…

  7. Tom Elias

    There is an awesome Honey Badger joke in here somewhere, but damn me if it’s too late to think.

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  10. Jessica Nelson

    While Shimmer’s badgers are very nice and complimentary, I would like to know who or what writes the acceptance/contract letters, so I can address future submissions directly to them. 😉

  11. Murfomurf

    OCCUPY Rejection Letter Factories!!
    Free BADGERS Now!
    Bradley Manning should be pardoned for exposing rejection letter factories!

  12. Chaz

    Shimmer’s rejection badgers are nice and complimentary; honey badger don’t care.

  13. rebecca loudon

    Brilliant and as satisfying as finding a fresh BIG HUNK at the Dollar Store. An authentic nougat center.

  14. Claire Lazerson

    After inquiring about a long-unacknowledged submission, I received the following letter: ” We seem to have lost your submission. However, as we recall, we didn’t want it anyway.” Do you think they were covering up the fact that a badger had eaten it?

  15. Stephen Aitken

    Haha. Now this explains a lot, even the typos and grammatical errors in some of my rejection letters.
    Rumor has it that some of the rejection badgers can’t even read; like parrots they have been trained in the crude craft of repetitive rejection rhetoric. No wonder they are so very black and white.

  16. Vicky Lorencen

    How illuminating. And here all this time I thought rejection letters were penned by feral skunks. It also explains why I sometimes feel badgered by rejection.

  17. sue berg

    and here i thought it was squirrels working at “Exceptional Number 1 Rejection Letter Crafters” … hmmm … very illuminating … i wonder if management makes the badgers who work for them wear squirrel mascot uniforms?

  18. Charlie Bookout

    That’s a relief. I was starting to take those letters personally, but now I don’t feel so bad. My submissions probably smell like danger to those badgers anyway. I’ve got a coyote held at gunpoint, and he does most of my writing for me. Not the one I sent you guys, of course! I wrote some of that one all by myself

  19. Spencer Ellsworth

    Oh, must a mustelid murmur and mutter,
    writing unwilling and wronged to the end?

    A badger’s blessed barrio rejects in rejoicing.
    Only at Shimmer, your badger’s best friend.

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