Thursday, June 28, 2012

This Just In From Your Friend and Mine

Dear Writers, Rejected:

I had promised a number of years ago that if I ever placed a short story collection, your readers would be the first to know. I am delighted to report that I am able to fulfill that pledge. My collection, Scouting for the Reaper, has won this year's Hudson Prize and will be published by Black Lawrence Press. Your readers will be amused to know that my total rejection count for creative work now includes slightly more 25,000 rejection letters. I have published slightly more than 200 stories. Mathematics is not my strong suit, so I'll leave it to you to calculate my placement percentage. I thank you for all of your kind words and support over the years.

 Jacob M. Appel


Writer, Rejected said...

Got to hand it to the dude! I'm happy for him.

capsman said...

As always, a modest man: of those two hundred stories, how many were prizewinners? A great deal. I also find it hard to believe that a doctor (and a lawyer) can't punch some easy ratios. For each story, Appel received 125 rejections on average. Look forward to reading the collection. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Hats off to you for staying confident and enthusiastic through all this. Good luck!

Heynonnynonymous said...

Way to go, guy.

Radek said...


Anonymous said...

Congratulations! I've read your work and you really deserve it. Yay!!

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to read this news, it is well deserved and about time, and not just because of the stats! And how nice of him to notify this site.

Also, while we're on the subject of stats and winning a lot, I couldn't help noticing that not only did he win the overall prize, but he had SIX entries listed under fiction finalists - and if I understand correctly, they were manuscripts, i.e. short story collections, not just single stories (I've cut and pasted):

Fiction Finalists
Horses All Over Hell – Ryan Blacketter
Up and Out and Then Smoke – Terry Dubow
Your Life Idyllic – Craig Bernier
Strange Mercies – Pete Duval
Field Notes for the Earthbound – John Mauk Contract
Right Back After This – James Hill
Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets – Jacob Appel
Saluting the Magpie – Jacob Appel
Scouting for the Reaper – Jacob Appel*
When Love Was an Angel’s Kidney – Jacob Appel
Coulrophobia – Jacob Appel
Winter Honeymoon – Jacob Appel

I think that is astonishing! Congratulations Jacob Appel!

Anonymous said...

But here's the thing.
I checked Jacob Appel and Ryan Blackletter out on Google and found that they both have MFAs -- Jacob from NYU and Ryan from Iowa. If I checked out the others, I'll bet they too have MFAs.
It's gotten to the point where an MFA is a license enabling one to practice. Just like dentistry or law require a license.
Can only "trained" writers produce good work?
In today's literary world a discriminatory mindset prevails. -- and this is wrong.
But those in academia are in the driver's seat -- and they won't change a status quo that favors them.
I know -- this is an old gripe, But that doesn't make it any less valid.

Anonymous said...

No, what makes your gripe less valid is how silly it is. . . .

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know his net profit/loss from all those contests entered.

Anonymous said...

Silly? That's it?
Perfect example of the attitude I'm talking about. One that reeks of a superior dismissiveness.
(BTW, what MFA program did you attend?)

Anonymous said...

You don't offer any evidence for your argument--that's what makes it silly. Sorry if that's elitist.

Now to begin: have you considered how many people with MFAs are also getting rejected? The MFA is a chance to work with established writers and to network and to teach--in no way is it a license that 'enables one to practice.' I know plenty of MFAers who send out story after story with nothing to show.

Also: can only 'trained' writers produce good work? Uh, have you been reading lately? 'Good' work is among the rarest published. 'Good' work has a hard time finding a market. Publishers aren't interested in 'good.' They want something that 'sells.'

Academia in the driver's seat? Tell that to the University of Missouri Press, one of the last best places for literary fiction. Their funding has been yanked. Also: Have you considered that in order to get a job in academia, today's writers must first have published with major publishers?

Lastly: you're going to dismiss Jacob Appel and his work because of his degree? That is ridiculous. Go back through this blog and read the posts where Jacob is mentioned. He has had to work and work and work. It's insulting that you would try to diminish him in any way by suggesting that he hasn't earned his success.

Now, you may not like my attitude but, upon examination, yours is quite a bit worse. A real writer wouldn't begrudge anyone else his/her success, because a real writer understands how difficult it is to write. In an MFA program or not.

Anonymous said...

You still miss my point.
Sure, a lot of writers with an MFA don't get published. But at least they have a shot at getting read. Why else would almost every writer in a magazine or journal of any prestige have an MFA?
The point is this: if you do NOT have an MFA, you aren't even in the running (unless you're writng in a popular genre; but I'm talking literary fiction -- by which I mean "good" fiction).
Some people in the "establishment" admit this; some even lament it. I had a email discussion about the state of things with an editor in a top tier publication (east coast city) and he wrote me -- exact words: "You're right -- it's all MFA all the time. Don't know quite what to do about it."
Why did he respond? Because 1) he was an editor of non-fiction and 2) he was a man in his late sixties.
Anybody who writes well has my respect. But a lot of what I see published in the last ten years I don't consider to be good. Much less very good -- or great.
A lot of the writers who did great work never got an MFA. Back in the day, it was.

Laura Maylene said...

Just thought I'd jump in and say this: I won a short story collection contest, and I don't have an MFA.

Many of these contests are judged blindly, so the judges have no idea who you are or if you have an MFA.

I also seriously don't think the average literary journal cares whether I have an MFA or not. When it comes to the slush (if they really take from the slush), they just want work that excites them.

In any case, congratulations to Jacob, a hard-working writer if there ever was one. He deserves this!

Anonymous said...

Laura Matlene "went on to study literature and creative writing at Washington College, where she received the Sophie Kerr Prize, the nation’s largest undergraduate literary award."
You people are distorting the truth. I'm reminded of politics. Oh, well, I've said my piece.
Except for this: Congratulations to Jacob!

Laura Maylene said...

Anonymous, I don't see your point. Yes, I won that prize, but it was an undergraduate award. The only eligible writers were others in my graduating class at a small, liberal arts college. (It's the largest prize based on monetary value.) As I stated previously, I do not have an MFA, and the Sophie Kerr Prize has not given me any additional advantages besides the prize money itself. Really, it hasn't. I have the years and years of rejection to prove it.

Yes, I've won writing awards -- based on my writing, not my resume. Everything I've won has either been submitted anonymously or without any other compelling reason for the judges to choose me instead of another writer. (Aside from the writing, of course.)

Trust me, when I'm submitting to a literary journal, they're reading my work the same as yours. My advice? Focus on your writing and not thinking up reasons why other writers might have an unfair advantage. Yes, some do, but that's life. In the end, the writers who get somewhere tend to be the hard workers. Which Jacob Appel undoubtedly is.