Harsh Rejection Letters

Rejection letter

Business Insider has gathered a fun lot of rejection letters to people who went on to have successful careers. One, to Andy Warhol, appears in Chapter 8 of the text book; others are to Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowlings and movie director Tim Burton. 

Many are harsh. Forget about a "buffer" and letting the receiver down gracefully. The one shown here, about fantasy writer Ursula Le Guin's novel, starts with a short compliment, and then doesn't mince words. A letter to Gertrude Stein mocks her book: "Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one." 

Some, although tough, probably gave good advice. A letter to comic book artist Jim Lee told him, "Your work looks as if it were done by four different people," and explains which parts were best and what he should work on: "Resubmit when your work is consistent and when you learn to draw hands." The artist agreed with the rejection. 

Specific feedback is best, but it doesn't have to cut to the bone.

Discussion Starters: 

  • How do these examples differ from business rejections today? Why do think there is a difference? Consider the era and industry. 
  • What is the harshest rejection you have received? How did you react, and what did you learn from it?