You know things are bad when I get excited about a rejection; when the most promising, positive correspondence I've had so far is an editor/agent who doesn't say yes, but also doesn't bash my style or hate my story. (Or at least type out those feelings and hit send.) Here is the nicest "no" I've gotten so far:
I was very glad to have the chance to read ________. It’s an impressive first novel and a genuinely enjoyable read – sharp, lively and blackly comic, all at the same time. And you have a particularly good ear for dialogue, which is one of the hardest things to get right. So, all in all, it’s a real achievement. I wasn’t sure, though, that it was quite right for ________, mainly because it lacked the depth or edge we tend to look for (we’re unashamedly literary). But this isn’t in any way a criticism of it – rather it just means that we wouldn’t be the right publisher for you. I’m so sorry, and I do hope you find the perfect home for the novel, both here and in Canada. Best of luck!
All good wishes
This e-mail was from the UK where, whether it's a rejection for a novel, a job or a Visa, the art of politesse is not lost. Canadians and Americans could certainly learn a thing or two.