First Rejection Email

Derek Ouellette —  January 13, 2012

In December I saw a press release Scot McKnight posted on his blog announcing Patheos’ new ebook publishing venture. It announced that “Patheos Press is seeking original, thoughtful, and engaging writing about religion.” The press went on to identify precisely what they are looking for:

“Broadly, we are looking for:
•       Irresistibly interesting reported pieces
•       Engaging essays, whether focused on the timely or the timeless
•       Theological and philosophical studies
•       Spiritual guides and devotionals
•       And much more. If you are a good religion writer with clear idea, we’d like to hear from you.”

It finished by stipulating the submission expectations.

Many of you know my desire to publish an ebook. In fact, I have one in the works with a cover already designed and a website already devoted to it. Because I have been so busy the past two months, I skipped over Patheos’ protocol and simply emailed them with my idea, the book title (“The Justification of Tom Wright”), a link to the website and a link to one of my favourite articles related to the subject (“N.T. Wright, R.C. Sproul and the Scarecrow“). I did not anticipate a reply, but figured I had nothing to lose.

So it came as a complete surprise when the managing editor of Patheos Press sent me an email a few weeks later:

Hi Derek,

Thanks much for you submission. Our editorial team will be meeting next in early January and I’ll be in touch shortly thereafter.


That was a pleasant surprise. While I tried not to get my hopes up, deep down I was really hoping for good news. So my heart skipped a beat when today I hopped on line to check my email and there was his follow-up email. After a moments hesitation I opened it and read:

“Hi Derek,

Thanks again for the submission. While your idea has merit, the team decided to pass on the chance to publish this title. We appreciate your giving us a chance to take a look at it, and wish you all the best.

Regards, Patton.”

This is small potatoes compared to the stories I hear of authors first attempts at getting published and the numerous rejection letters they receive. All in all I’d say that’s not a bad reply for my first attempt at getting something published.  And yet somehow I feel like I just took one to the gut. Still, I believe I’m on the right track and Patton’s interest confirms that for me.

A friend suggested, “Put the letter in a frame and call it Motivation.” I think I’ll do just that.

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • Aaron Armstrong

    Good for you, Derek! Rejection letters can actually be some of the most encouraging things; at least you know they’ve taken a look. Looking forward to seeing how things progress.

  • http://Euangelion Mike Bird

    Derek, mate, rejection is a regular occurrence for even the most seasoned of scholars. When I first started sending out book proposal, I got more rejections than when I was looking for a date for the prom (which was a lot)! Oh, and the rejections never stop!!!