Saturday, 9 July 2011

Why I owe a lot to Juri Gabriel

If there were an award for Most Uplifting Rejection Letter, I think this imaginary award should go to Juri Gabriel.

(This best illustrates how I felt after reading Juri Gabriel's letter)

I have now received 16 rejections. This has been my 16th one, coming in the post earlier this week. I thought I would put what he wrote because, well. Because.

Dear Ms. Buckland (he writes),

Thank you for your letter from 27th June.

Please forgive me for sending you a form letter in response, but I receive about 1,700 book, film, tv and radio scripts each year, and there is only one of me.

I'm afraid I have decided not to accept your proposal. This does not necessarily mean that it is not sellable. All it means is that I do not think I can sell it - or that it does not make commercial sense from the agent's (10%) perspective.

Having said which, I feel I ought to make a few general points, which you may or may not find helpful.

1) From the hundreds of people of all kinds who write to me each year, I probably take on 2-4 new clients. (For most major publishers, broadcast and film companies the figures for unsolicited manuscripts are even worse: between zero and two out of literally thousands. Indeed, increasing numbers of them will only look at submissions made through established agents.)

2) However, the overwhelming majority (95%) of submissions are so hopelessly bad that one shouldn't really include them in any 'significant' statistics.

3) Last year getting on to 130,000 new titles (fiction and non-fiction and including new editions of previously published works) were published.

That there is a vast amount of undiscovered talent out there is a delusion. If you have genuine ability, persist; the real odds are less fearsome than they might at first appear.

Good luck!

Yours sincerely,

Juri Gabriel

Now, usually you get the form rejection letter that says something to the tune of this:

Dear Ms. Buckland,

Thank you for your submission, but I don't think it's right for me. The market is tough now. I have too many big clients already to deal with the no-name likes of you. What you submitted is squawking drivel that doesn't make any sense. Your vain attempt is an epic fail.

Best wishes for you in your search for suitable representation.

Kind regards,
Every Literary Agent You Have Submitted To So Far

And so, you can see how refreshing it is to read Juri Gabriel's rejection letter. It really is a breath of fresh air. It is like allergies going away. That he takes the time to write a letter of hope, even if it is, stripped down to its bare bones, a rejection letter, shows how much he cares.  Though he is clearly overworked - he could use some staff, a reader, an assistant perhaps? - he has not become jaded from the loads of rejections and trash he has to sift through in the slush pile every single day.

I think I'll frame this one.


  1. Now that IS a breath of fresh air! Wow. The odds are almost overwhelming. Just out of your novel something you are saving for only the people you submit to? I am still going through your back-posts, so forgive if you've already addressed this. ;o)

  2. I am always on the lookout for good test readers.

  3. funny, I thought he was the worst of all of them. I got ' not for me...good luck elsewhere.' ( 6 words)

    1. Got exactly the same word-for-word rejection from Juri Gabriel ten years ago! Just like John Jarrold, the seemingly personalized rejection letter is just a more elaborate form rejection.

  4. Hi Veronica

    I found your site because I se3arched on Juri Gabriel. I've enjoyed reading it, and his response to you in particular. Just wanted to let you know, though, that the letter is unreadable in the colours you have chosen unless you highlight it.

    Finally, if you'd be interested to look at my own author's web site I'm on



  5. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for reading! And for your welcome suggestion to change the font colour. I'd forgotten when I redesigned the layout of my blog that it would conflict with some of the old colours! I'll change it here soon as I get a chance.

    Mr. Gabriel was extremely helpful and positive in his rejection letter; to this day I look at it every time I need a boost. It's on my wall in front of my writing desk, reminding me to always do my best and to keep going.

    I congratulate you on such a lovely author site. How inspiring! Need to start one of my own, methinks!

    Happy writing, Michael.

    All best,

  6. I wandered onto this site just before submitting to Juri. I have had 6 rejections and after 2 years has plucked up the courage to try again after finishing a huge text book commission. Your post put a smile on my face and hope in my heart that there is at least one agent who cares enough to send such a letter.
    Hope you got an agent.
    Write on,

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jay. And well done on getting back in the saddle again - you never know until you try. Rejection stings but it's all a part of the process and will make you better as you go.
      I'm on the edge of my seat now as I await a couple of agents' responses...I'll have no fingernails left by the end of it!

      Congratulations, Jay, and keep going.

      All best,

  7. Having had the good fortune to have Juri as a writing teacher many years ago, I can confirm that this is exactly the kind of courteous and considered response that I'd expect from him.

  8. Wow, Angus, you lucky thing! What a rare treasure, indeed. :)

    It's taken years, several books, and many, many sorrowful glasses of wine, but I am now locked in with an enthusiastic and supportive literary agent who is perfect for me. I wouldn't have made it without Juri's amazing letter - which I still have on my wall in my writing room, and which I still look at every day.

    All best,