I'm wondering how closely people parse rejection letters. Especially glowing ones. Are they faint praise? blowing smoke? Or a reason to keep on pushing the rock up the hill?

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Take it as encouragement. It's fairly rare in my experience.
I try to. But when you get the 10th glowing rejection email/letter, the b.s.-o-meter starts to vibrate.
If they're taking the time to give feedback, especially positive feedback, it's a good thing...if you sucked they wouldn't take the time. Any reoccurring themes (ie: writing is great, plot needs work, or whatever)? If so, take the advice. And remember opinions on stories can be incredibly subjective but good writing is good writing. It's a gift. Best of luck.
I'm with Tanis on this.  A good deal depends on who the publisher is, how much feedback they give, and why they reject.  Keep in mind that times are very hard at the moment, and that houses are extremely selective on what they buy. This is often a matter of what sells or where the publisher wants to put emphasis.  In other words, your book may be wonderful but just not fit a particular publisher at this moment.  That means: keep going till you find the right fit. 
Thanks. I.J. that's what my agent keeps saying: the industry is at an all-time low. have a great day.
In my experience the simplest bounce letters are the most discouraging. "Thanks, but no." An invitation to submit again later is one step up from that. Anything more detailed ("The character of Bruno didn't work for me") is really good.

I once submitted a story by email at 9:45 pm. By 10:15, not half an hour later, I had an email rejection. First off, what was some agent doing in the office or online at that hour. Second off, I stopped believing that all publishing house read each submission and treat them with the same consideratino aas every other submission. I've kept every one of my rejections (including the two that arrived in the mail months after I was already contracted to be published). They just served to show me I was a little closer to my goal.


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