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If you send your work off to agents, you need to be prepared for rejection. All writers have had to deal with rejection letters at some time or other, but the really hard bit is understanding what they really mean. Hopefully, this tongue-in-cheek guide should make things a little clearer!

They say: They mean:
We would like to thank you for giving us the opportunity to read your work. If this is the first line of the agent’s letter, you don’t need to read on. You’ve already been rejected.
As you are probably aware, the publishing business is highly competitive. As you are probably aware, you are not a famous celebrity with your own TV show and publicist.
Sorry for the delay in correspondence. Oh dear. You sent us this manuscript a decade ago. Are you still alive?
I am sure there are agents who would feel differently. I am sure there are absolutely no other agents who would feel differently, otherwise I would have taken you on.
We wish you every success for the future. We hope to God we never see your name in the bestseller list and have to contemplate those missed royalties.
Please excuse this form letter, but the volume of submissions we receive does not permit us to reply individually. You may have devoted six years of your life to this manuscript, but hey, we’re running a business here . . . if you want support, call The Samaritans.
If you would like your material returned, please send in a stamped addressed envelope. If you would like us to rub your nose in it even further, you will have to pay for the privilege.
We are taking on few new clients at the moment. Catch me pissed at a Soho member’s bar and you might stand a chance.
We receive over 100 submissions per week. Your manuscript means nothing to us. It is one among thousands. Don’t you understand how busy and important us agents are?! Now go and get back on with your sad little lives, and leave us alone.
Due to huge pressure of work, we have to be very selective. These business lunches just keep on getting longer.
Please allow 4-6 weeks for a response. Please allow 46 weeks for a response.