Monday, February 11, 2008

A Plagiarized Rejection: Shenandoah or Greensboro...Which Came First?

This amusement was sent in by an anonymous reader:

"I must be seeing double, because this new prelude-to-rejection letter from Shenandoah sounds awfully familiar, like it's a "No!" that's come before.

I just sent them a story a few weeks ago, so they must have just logged it and sent out this teaser package. And you know, I have seen it: it's almost a word-for-word copy of the elaborate Bait & Switch from Greensboro Review, as featured on LROD just last month, where they send an elaborate subscription plea package right away and then pop you with a form-letter reject in a number of months -- someone's ripping someone off here, because this is a total duplicate of Greensboro's prelude to rejection!

I mean, if these journals are so vital and creative and unique, why are their elaborate subscription-and-rejection schemes so sneaky (and identical)? Did these editors go to the same "how to make money off would-be writers with your literary journal" seminar at the Holiday Inn? Or is this whole thing just a bad joke, and somebody forgot to tell me the punchline?

Just as before, it comes professionally addressed to me in a nice envelope, on nice letterhead, signed by the editor, and with the exact same verbiage -- just a few nouns and details are changed, but otherwise they're both cruising with the template. Compare it with Greensboro's copy:

Same "pool of work," same plea that "the survival of [INSERT JOURNAL NAME HERE] depends as much upon subscribers as it does contributors, and since you think enough of us to send us your work, we hope you'll consider ... becoming a regular reader or renewing your current subscription." Oh yes, and work from the journal is "[often/consistently] [featured/cited] in [INSERT PRIZE NAME HERE]." "We've enclosed a [INSERT FORM TYPE HERE] to make it [simple/even easier] for you to sign up or renew."

The letters end with that warm invitation to contact them: "If we can be of any help to you ... please don't hesitate to write or e-mail us."

And my very favorite is the last line of both letters: "We look forward to reading your work."


Maybe I should take them up on their offer and give R.T. Smith a call, put him on conference call with Jim Clark from the Greensboro Review and the rest of them out there who use this deceptive and very cheap trick to get writers to part with their money: "Hey guys, please, yes, I'd like you to help me! I'll be brief -- can you just tell me exactly why your journal deserves to survive, why it should do so at the expense of writers like myself, and can you explain to me what I'll even get out of acceptance anyway, since I know it won't be decent financial recompense nor, obviously, a readership of any size? Oh, and by the way, your ad copy's looking kind of tired, kind of too much like all the other journals -- you want to hire a copywriter that will give you an edge? I'm one of the best in the biz, my rates are competitive, and when it comes to unpublished writers I know just what buttons to push!"


Anonymous said...

Two related stories.
When I was younger, and naive, I went to literary festivals, workshops.

At a festival I listened to an agent wax eloquent about his search for talent. His pep talk inspired me to rush home and send him a query letter for a novel. I got a scribbled note back -- "We are not considering manuscripts at this time."
I hope he enjoyed the nightlife in New Orleans (he came back year after year).

At a workshop each morning had a time set aside for a speaker -- writer, agent, publisher. The first was a top New York agent. Why this gal accepted the engagement, I have no idea. She was unprepared, vague, rambling; she looked unhappy. The gist of her words was that it was very tough to get published. Hers was the antithesis of an inspirational pep talk. In the question and answer session that followed some girl (hadn't she been listening?) asked the agent how she could get a manuscript to her. The mean lady answered, "Honey, I have all the clients I want." And then she departed -- rapidly. Up the aisle, head down, getting a cigarette from her purse.
The aspiring writers were shocked; they gathered in little groups buzzing with indignation. The authors and agents and publishers in the following days began by refuting her words.
Me, I loved her! Finally, someone told the truth.
Which is in short supply.
Where is Hans Christian Andersen's little boy when we need him?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Comment?! What else can be said?

Pure Gonzo!

Anonymous said...

THEY haven't a shred of respect for those they consider "tyro writers." They think we're chumps, patsies, suckers, schlemiels. And in many cases they're right.

Writer, Rejected said...

Well, I for one am a chump, patsy, suckers, and a schlemiel. So, they got that right.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for posting this.

I did feel leery about submitting after scoping the current issue, which prints the work of fellow little journal editors David Bottoms and Kevin Prufer (among a few others). Can you say "networking"? Or is it "farce"?

So I'm glad I googled. Now my draft to R. T. Smith is in the trashcan.

Also- took a look around at the rest of your site. Excellent, you have a new fan. Rest assured people, you're not alone. It's hard not to be cynical if you have your eyes open and some grey matter between it.

Try googling "new dark age" for more. You'll get plenty of articles, many worth reading. Just none will be in the little journals.

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