Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Close Positive Rejection

From Today's Mail Bag:

From the Narrative 30 Below Contest. Feel free to post but please keep anonymous. I think this was what could be called a "positive attention" rejection, although I would be interested to hear from others if it's just the standard. I received this for both my submissions.

Dear _________,

Thank you for entering "[Story]" in the Narrative 30 Below Contest. Your work was carefully read and considered by several of our editors in what was a very large field of entries. We received more than four times as many entries as the New York Times College Essay Contest, and on that basis you can have a sense of how much competition was involved. The entries came from all around the world, and many deserved repeated readings and, like yours, received close positive attention from our editors.

In the end, however, we could choose only three winners and ten finalists, and painstaking decisions had to be made. We regret that your story was not one of our winners this time. We appreciate your participation in the contest, and we hope you will keep Narrative in mind for your future work.

An announcement of the winning stories will soon go out to the magazine's readership, along with a schedule of future contests.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to read your work, and please accept our kind wishes.

Sincerely,

The Editors

What says the peanut gallery?  

This rejection letter is:

A) A standard form letter masquerading as personal
B) A heart-warming personal rejection
C) An example of the sly folks at Narrative who want you to pay more submission fees though you don't stand a chance in hell
D) A & C
E) None of the above

*Drawing snitched from authonomy.

16 comments:

John said...

Clearly A & C, keeping in mind Narrative's overall greed. While the rejection itself is sorta-kinda nice and reassuring, there's nothing in it to identify any particular work. It's a little like the slot machines that dribble you little winnings now and then to keep you feeding them. Again, those who pay entry fees to contests are playing a similar game.

vanderbilt44 said...

I hate to say this, but I got the same message and I didn't even enter the contest.

Puc said...

Answer: A & C. Narrative 30 Below refers to the temperature in Hell at which an unsolicited entry will get published in Narrative.

Mary Patrick said...

What a fun website. Wish I'd found it earlier! I'm throwing a huge funeral for my rejected novel on Saturday (see my website www.MyDreamIsDeadButImNot.com) I'll put a link to your site when I update mine. (I'm new at the web/blog thing). Thanks for this, look forward to reading in more detail. (PS: Using lovely stationary and a fine sense of humor, I invited my rejecters to be pallbearers and got a written scolding from one saying it made her *uncomfortable* tee hee).
Mary Patrick Kavanaugh

Anonymous said...

A and C. Most def.

rmellis said...

Do editors of magazines really hand out different levels of rejection slips? I've worked on a few mags, and I've only ever done the basic note, or the basic note with hand-written comments.

So yeah, I vote A and C.

John said...

The sign it's a form rejection: nothing like "we were really impressed with the scene where Jed flushes the hairball down the toilet." The editors who include little bits like that in their rejections really warm my heart. Sort of. Why not just accept the piece if the scene was that great?

Native_Ink said...

A & C. There's nothing in the note to suggest they are commenting personally on your story. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

A. I got the same.


While C is tempting to write in, this contest was free. Imagine that. . .free!

ryan call said...

that is a form rejection, duh

guy who was rejected said...

thanks everybody for weighing in.

rmellis and ryan, the language of the last line of the first paragraph is what i found interesting. of course it's form, but i wondered if it was a higher kind of form. the magazine i work for has several (well, two) tiers of form letter: the regular one and then a form letter which incorporates the phrase "evident merit". i wondered if "positive attention" was a similar kind of phrase.

PixieCorpse said...

A&C. It's Narrative, after all.

rmellis, the magazine I worked at did indeed have two rejection slips, one generic and one encouraging. But I don't consider most of the ones that lack human handwriting very encouraging.

Laurel

John said...

I'm not sure how much a "better" class of rejection note means. I just re-submit, and whatever class of rejection I've had -- and if I've re-submitted eight or a dozen times, I get both, assuming both are sent -- I've eventually gotten accepted at several places I simply never figured would take my stuff.

I think PixieCorpse has it right when she says Form A isn't much different from Form B without handwriting, but let's face it, even handwriting doesn't mean much unless it's on a check.

The point is to keep resubmitting. However, do not keep paying entry or reading fees.

Puc said...

Something else curious about the rejection - so what about the NYT's contest?: But how many entries did the NYT's College Essay Contest get? Don't know, so looked it up. See below, from NYT's site:

In July, the magazine published "What's the Matter With College," an essay by the historian Rick Perlstein, online and invited college students to respond. Some 600 did. The winning essay and four runners-up appear below; you can search hundreds of additional entries using the tools in the righthand column of this page.

600. Narrative doesn't mention a number in their rejection. Why not? The rejection does say Narrative received four times the number the NYT's contest received, so 2,400. Not sure if that should make the rejectee feel better or not. Maybe the point of Narrative's rejection is that the writer might next time consider the NYT's rather than Narrative - certainly more transparent.

Rejectee's magazine uses "evident merit"? He/She works for the New Yorker?

ryan call said...

srry, i did not mean for my 'duh' thing to be so offhand...

i should have been clearer and said i would not feel very encouraged by that rejection

guy who was rejected said...

good eye, puc! indeed.