Sunday, June 29, 2008

F.U., You Slimy Lizards


Have you ever wanted to respond to a rejection letter like this YouTube guy did?  One very enterprising LROD reader did just that.  Here's the letter he wrote and wanted to share:

Dear Salamander Editors:

Thank you for your recent missive, postmarked June 24, 2008, in response to my submission mailed on November 22, 2006. I appreciated finally hearing back from you, and I especially liked the one-eighth-page form rejection note. One question to aid me in future submissions: when you say that my work doesn’t “suit our needs at this time,” does that mean in 2006 or 2008?

Whichever, you’ll be pleased to learn that my essay was accepted elsewhere and published in March 2007. The publication, the
Columbia Journal of American Studies, is a scholarly journal and no doubt is held in lower esteem than a refined, arty literary journal such as yours. But I take solace in the fact that Columbia University is probably a better school than Suffolk University, and my piece has found, on balance, a more prestigious home.

Oh, and I do apologize for violating the “no simultaneous submissions” rule, but as you can see based on my experience with you guys, if I had followed this rule I would still be waiting for my essay’s publication two years after it was written.

In imagining excuses for why it has taken you so long to respond to my submission -- positively or negatively, it doesn’t matter just as long as you get on with the process -- I can only gather that you’re “very busy,” which is what all people blame for their tardiness. Now, granted, thirty-hour-a-week jobs and summers off contribute to a very stressful existence, especially with all of those dense grad assistants and interns you have to supervise, but, really, it takes you a year and a half to respond to submissions?

When agents or editors plead that they’re “too busy” to reply in a timely manner to my queries and submissions, I simply hold up the example of my wife, who works in television, and regularly puts in 80-hour work weeks. Yet, despite how undeniably busy she is, she never leaves the office at night until all of her work is done and all 100 phone messages from the day have been returned. If being busy is your excuse, then you must be weak, lazy, pampered wussies. I’d try to work on that.

Yours, 
Triumphant Writer

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe they're just not that into you. And I mean, damn, it's Salamander. Were you really holding your breath or thinking this could be a big break? I'm not dissing your anger, but it's sort of like getting mad when a fast-food place screws up your order. It's annoying but are you really surprised? I try to save my true invective for people who should know better, not incompetent morons.

Writer, Rejected said...

Seriously? They're known far and wide for being incompetent boobs? I didn't know. Maybe we should start a list, so everyone knows what's what. We could monitor our literary expectations that way.

Writer Reading said...

The paradox of being "too busy" is that all these editors have the same amount of backlog all of the time. If they just spent a couple of long weekends catching up, there'd be no wait at all for replies. I know this for a fact having worked in publishing. But waiting a long time also gives the illusion of lots and lots of thought and consideration having gone into the rejection.

Eileen said...

I loved the line about not suiting our needs at this time being either in 2006 or 2008. Made the letter.

Julie from "The Buffaloe Pen" said...

Hilarious letter! I love your site. It's nice to know we're not alone in the poop pile. Some very informative articles, too. Take care.

Perry Brass said...

I always find those journals that have 2,000 subscribers and 25,000 submissions amusing in their pretensions. The best I can say for them is that being published in them is a good stepping stone to some recognition from the lit establishment, like Poets and Writers, for instance, which insists that to be listed with them you have to be published by these lit magazines as opposed to say, selling 10 million copies of your book. Many of them would reject anyone who is a good writer, simple as that, and the amount of "old boy" nepotism involved with them would drive anyone to a Tums pack.

What I really hate is such dreck as "Good luck with placing it somewhere else." I always find that condescending and revolting. You don't need luck, especially their luck. You need a cast iron stomach, stamina, and maybe a decent bottle of Scotch.

Perry Brass,
author of the IPPY Award winning novel, Carnal Sacraments, A Historical Novel of the Future.

anonymissy said...

I'm a little late here, but I thought I'd speak up for the poor Salamander because today is my day to champion unpopular causes.

The woman who started that magazine, whose name I'm too lazy to look up, seems like a talented poet and a decent person -- she started that journal herself (and maybe with a few other people), before she moved it over to Suffolk, where she teaches. I think she's a smart, well-intentioned person and she doesn't deserve to be trashed like this. Of course, this behavior is pretty lame -- I'd probably be making fun of her too if this had happened to me.

Anyway, she definitely owed that guy a personal letter for sitting on his essay so long. I've always assumed that when journals wait forever it's because they're thinking about whether they have room for you. Well, it's either that, or they used your manilla envelope as a place mat, and only just realized it had some stuff in it. Either way, she should have said something nice about the writing and apologized.

Toast said...

Listen, princess; if your essay was anything like as whiny and self-pitying as this letter to the editors, they were doing the world a service by trying to keep it out of circulation for as long as possible. Good god. You think that because you published something you're now entitled to obsequious service from everyone you favor with your fabulous prose?

Also, Julie: what's funny here?

Anonymous said...

Just got a rejection from Salamander ... for a story I did NOT write. Really. This is just pitiful. And their website does not offer an email address to alert the office of the mistake, though from previous comments here I gather they don't really care. So, if you are the writer who sent Salamander a story about Stephani and Mr. P's red Camaro know that you've been rejected. Salamander will never get around to telling you.

Cantara said...

We've struck with blunt cudgels writers submitting to us. We've taken their women and killed their dogs. But we have never, ever taken two years to reject them.

Writer, Thaumaturg, Mum said...

thank you thank you for sharing this. you have made my day! ( tears rolling down my face....)

Nevard W. Tellalian said...

wowie. toast up there seems downright harsh. boy, what a hater. HEY TOAST. i'm talkin' to YOU. naaahhhhh.
i'm talking to EVERYONE who is unattractively prancing through his wondrous maze of fun-house snippets. why are so MANY of you ANONYMOUS or hiding behind a FAKE NAME.
i'm not the first eejit to pose this searing question.

what's WRONG? too darned chickensh** to reveal your fiercely guarded names? as chickensh** as I AM? cause apparently i'm not able to type the word sh**. huh.
OH...AND TOAST? ONE MORE THING.
this blog is HILARIOUS... ya MO FO.
i bounce in my chair till my teesy noggin hits the ceiling, every single time i take a gander at these glorious things. and i've never submitted a THING, to ANY publication.
well you can tell...for god's sake, i just started a sentence with the word "AND".
and i don't think that's ALLOWED...is it? what the hell do i know.
HEY...I SAID MO FO. making progress.