Rejection letters of note

As an ad creative, for every piece of work that sees the light of day, at least 100 won’t. If there’s one thing we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis, it’s rejection.

You have to reject your own ideas if they’re not 100% ready to go through the gauntlet. Then the creative director will reject your ideas – not on brand. Then production – not on budget. Then junior accounts people – they like it, but let’s see what the seniors think. Then senior accounts people – off brief. Then junior clients – they like it, but let’s see what the seniors think. Then senior clients – they just don’t like it.

To make it through all those stages of rejection, it’s got to be a bloody good (preferably big) idea. But, until you strike gold, take solace in knowing that even the best of us get rejected. Here are some great rejection letters from Letters of Note.

The New Yorker rejects Sylvia Plath



MOMA rejects Andy Warhol


The Atlantic rejects Kurt Vonnegut




The Atlantic Monthly

August 29, 1949

Dear Mr. Vonnegut:

We have been carrying out our usual summer house-cleaning of the manuscripts on our anxious bench and in the file, and among them I find the three papers which you have shown me as samples of your work. I am sincerely sorry that no one of them seems to us well adapted to for our purpose. Both the account of the bombing of Dresden and your article, “What’s a Fair Price for Golden Eggs?” have drawn commendation although neither one is quite compelling enough for final acceptance.

Our staff continues fully manned so I cannot hold out the hope of an editorial assignment, but I shall be glad to know that you have found a promising opening elsewhere.

Faithfully yours, 

(Signed, ‘Edward Weeks’)