Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Dude is a Prince
I confess that I am both highly flattered and somewhat dumbfounded to
be the subject of such literary interest. I assure you that I don't
think of myself as particularly successful, from a publishing
standpoint, and I have received far more rejections than acceptances.
Since I imagine some of your readers are interested in hard numbers, I
have received approximately 11,100 rejection letters over the past
fifteen years--as well as one phone rejection (from the late,
brilliant George Plimpton at the Paris Review); since I've published
eighty-two stories, that's a decidedly low acceptance to rejection
ratio. I suppose the key to the limted successes that I have had is
perseverence. And a great deal of good old-fashioned dumb luck. And
the reason I keep doing it so simple that it may disappoint some of
your readers: I love writing stories.
I do have one piece of advice for other writers: Don't take rejection
personally and never take it to heart. I've received a number of
strange, discouraging, and even provocative rejection letters over the
years, but my two favorite read as follows: The first letter stated:
"I imagine some editors find your work amusing, although I cannot
imagine why. Please don't send your work to XXXXX ever again."
Another, from a different journal, read in entirety: "Dear Mr. Appel:
Do not consider this note of rejection specific to this story.
Consider it a preemptive rejection of anything else that you are
thinking of sending our way. The Editors." The two letters hang on
my office wall. And I continue to submit to both journals in the hope
that their editors will have a change of heart or pass the editorial
baton to a more receptive audience.
I also hope that I will publish a book someday. I remain cautiously
optimistic. I suspect your readers will be among the first to
know--that they may even find out before I do.
All the best of luck with your fascinating website. I have only had
an opportunity to peruse it briefly, but I think it's one of the
cleverest sites on the internet. If there are any other specific
questions that you have, feel free to put them my way.
Jacob M. Appel