Well, after seven weeks and one day, the Asimov’s rejection letter

finally arrived yesterday. It’s odd. I expected to be far more

disappointed than I actually was. I guess having almost two months to

brace for the inevitable impact ensured it couldn’t have been as

crushing as I was anticipating.

The moment was pretty surreal, however. When you submit a story to Asimov’s,

you have to include a self-addressed stamped envelope back to yourself,

so the magazine doesn’t have to pay to send you their response. Since

my home printer always chokes on envelopes and labels, I hand-address

everything. So when I got home yesterday, there was a letter to myself

in my own handwriting peeking out from the top of my mailbox. It was a

very thin letter, which told me immediately there couldn’t possibly be

a one-time publication contract inside, just a form letter.

A rejection letter, to be precise. I go inside, kick off my shoes,

empty my pockets, and sit down on my couch (which is about all the

furniture in my living room, since we’re getting new carpet today). I

tear open the letter, and there it is, on photocopied Asimov’s letterhead. This message:

Dear Contributor:

Thank you very much for letting us see the enclosed submission.
Unfortunately, it does not meet the needs of the magazine at this time.

Your submission was read by an editor, but the press of time and

manuscripts does not permit personal replies or criticism. For your

general information, though, most stories are rejected because they

lack a new idea or theme. A great many of the ideas that may seem

innovative to an SF newcomer are in fact overfamiliar to readers more

experienced in the field. The odds greatly favor this being the cause

of this rejection.


Sheila Williams


Yeah, it stings. The letter included the cover page and first page

of the story I sent in. Since I didn’t want to pay to have them mail

the story back to me (it’s not like I manually typed it), I had to

include–in big bold letters–the phrase “Manuscript Disposable” on the

cover page. Apparently, that was the most appropriate thing I wrote in

the whole exercise.

Back to the salt mines.