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Monday, June 30, 2008

The Iterations of No

I've been collecting these generic no-thank-you lines for some time, and thought I'd gang them together here.  It's amazing how many ways there are to say no, isn't it?
  • Thank you for your query.  Unfortunately, your work is not right for me.  I wish you good luck.
  • We are sorry to say that your project does not sound like something that would fit our list at this time.
  • I am not taking on any new clients right now.
  • Thank you for thinking of us.  However, we regret to say that your work is not a good fit for our list.
  • Many thanks, but not for us.
  • I do not feel that I could be an adequate advocate for your work.

Wikipedia For A Day

The Wikipedia entry for Literary Rejections on Display, which some nice anonymous reader created, has been deleted!  The notation?  "This blog does not seem especially notable."  It's sort of like all the literary rejections I get.  Damn.  Can't catch a break!

Dance Music and Candy Bars

Ever wonder how book publicists get titles on the radar screen? Not just books, but books and chocolate bars.  The Observer has an interesting little juice box about literary swag, which is the clutter-cutting junk sent out to reviewers.  According to the article, Charles Brock's Beautiful Children (covered quite thoroughly in the Times) was packaged with music tapes and French Women Don't Get Fat with chocolate.  Something has to explain it.

Guess plain old books have lost their allure.

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.

Triumphant Writer

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rejection Scuttlebutt

Friday, June 27, 2008

Cake Walk

Gawker staffers, who apparently cannot get enough of Sloane Crosley (27 articles on her: damn, enough please!), have posted an amusingly inane video of the author chatting aimlessly about publishing snark.  She argues that it doesn't exist: "The idea of meanness is incredibly immature." (Guess she hasn't walked a mile in our tight shoes; we can talk about mean.)  Then, just in case, she tells all meanies to knock it off. 

And she's published, but you're not?  Egads.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pop Military Rejections

The blogger over at How to Be an American Housewife bravely shares rejections for her commercial pop/military romance in a post entitled "Rejection Gallery."   It is worth a hop over there, though I'd wished that names had been named.

Here are some stand-out publishing rejection lines from the gallery:

1) This is a fun, well-told story, but I’m afraid that in the end we just didn’t feel it had enough of a hook or high-concept...
2) ...Overall the storytelling wasn’t what I hoped it would be.
3) I absolutely would love to see it again, in the event you don’t sell it now. [Huh? Why not just buy it now?]
4) It’s cute and she’s adorable, but I’m not in love with it. I wanted it to be more traditionally military oriented. I don’t see this story line hitting home with the military audience
5) ...the heroine is a little rough around the edges at points.
6) She is a wonderful writer but I feel the novel doesn’t have enough narrative drive.
7) The voice is pretty quiet and a bit flat, but its supposed to be the voice of a young pop princess with this crazy life, dealing with the tragedy of her parents dying. It seems to be stuck in between commercial and literary, in content and style, which is not necessarily a negative thing–it could be a new, innovative way of revitalizing chick-lit.

Alas.  If Brittney Spears Meets the Military can't convince these people to buy, then we are lost! But stop by and give that housewife some cheering up.  It looks like she's onto something and may just need another rewriter.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why You Are Not Published, My Son

Oh dear, people.  Now you're up against a jolly female African-American God when you try but can't publish your book.  The New York Times discovers the surprise best seller here.  Christian fiction: The Shack.  It's like that angel TV show with Della Reese everyone was watching a few years back, only in book form.  What will they think up next?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I'm Too Sexy For My....Story

An anonymous reader sends in this juicy tidbit, an errant email, which was supposed to be sent from one editor to another at a literary magazine where her story was under consideration. The misguided message was sent to the writer instead.  It said:

Dear Straight Male Editorial Colleague:

I liked this story a lot when I first read it, but I'm afraid all the lesbian talk just got me excited. I'm interested to on your thoughts about the piece. Is there anything here?

Signed, Straight Male Editor in Chief

Says the offended lesbian:  "This was literary fiction, not porn. But these are young guys, who are apparently easily excitable. Ultimately they published the story, but probably because they didn't want an angry dyke on their hands!  (Or else because it was a good story, but who knows?)"

Monday, June 23, 2008

Today's Quote

"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work." --Stephen King

p.s. Dude is so crazy looking.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Not So Brilliant, Dude

Remember the "Eat Shit & Die" Editor, Fence's Rebecca Wolff (who has her own Wikipedia entry), from a few weeks ago? Looks like Fence Magazine Blog is at it again. I actually thought this editor's crudely homemade rejection postcards would be somewhat amusing if they weren't so cliche (see image above for example).  See the the rest here.

"Undefinable X Factor"

Hunkish blogging agent (Blagent) Nathan Bransford attempts to explain why you aren't getting published here.  It's anybody's guess what the hell he's talking about.  Here's a highlight:

"A week and a half ago I posted the query points system, in which one needs to score 10 points out of a 30 points system (Professionalism/Book Idea/Credentials) in order to get a manuscript requested. But what Conduit pointed out in the comments section is that the whole "resonance with agent" factor is extremely important and that there's an undefinable X Factor at play in queries."

Huh?  Sometimes, the more they help, the more they don't.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Bushoir Title Contest

As per yesterday's Bush post, apparently The Dub is considering writing a memoir of his own. Read it at Reuters here.  A highlight quote from the article: "I seriously don't watch TV. You know, I watch sports, but I'd much rather read books. And I do. I read a lot," he said according to a transcript released by the White House.

This is probably going to ruin books for the rest of us for good. I can see it now:  "Dear Writer: I can't publish your brilliant memoir, I'm busy with Bush."  Or "Dear Loser:  If Bush can't sell copies, why do you think you can?"  Or "Dear Rejecto: Buzz off. We only publish Presidents." 

Any suggestions for what Mr. Bush should call his new memoir?

What's the Matter with These People?

I mean, seriously?

Must we really?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Top 50 Novels Ever

The Telegraph reported on the results of a survey to determine the top best 50 books of all time.  It's interesting how many of them are books with children as narrators.  Also, how the hell did the Da Vinci Code get in there? Also, Jodi Picoult!  (We're talking "of all time," here, people!)  Also, while I enjoyed the Time Traveler's Wife, I'm not sure the book itself will last through the ages.  And it's a little heart-wrenching to see Zadie's White Teeth smiling at me.  

Here's the list.  What do you think? 


1. To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

2. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C.S Lewis

4. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

5. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

6. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

7. Animal Farm - George Orwell

8. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

9. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - JK Rowling

10. Lord of the Flies - William Golding

11. The Time Travellers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

12. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

13. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kasey

14. Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell

15. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

16. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

17. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

18. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night -time - Mark Haddon

19. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald

20. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

21. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

22. Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence

23. Anna Kareninia - Leo Tolstoy

24. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

25. Emma - Jane Austen

26. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

27. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

28. My Sister's Keeper - Jodi Picoult

29. A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess

30. A Passage to India - E.M Forster

31. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

32. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

33. Atonement - Ian McEwan

34. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

35. In Search of Lost Time - Marcel Proust

36. Middlemarch - George Eliot

37. White Teeth - Zadie Smith

38. To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf

39. It - Stephen King

40. Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott

41. Vanity Fair - William Thackeray

42. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

43. The Horse Whisperer - Nicholas Evans

44. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe

45. Moby Dick - Herman Melville

46. Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift

47. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

48. Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twin

49. Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome

50. The Island - Victoria Hislop

Oh, and, just for fun, let's compare this list to President Bush's reading list from 2006, as published in U.S. News & World Report.  I think someone on his press team probably added the book about Islamic women and Camus' The Stranger, don't you?

Here's the Bushy list:

1. American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin (a biography of Robert Oppenheimer, an inventor of the atomic bomb)

2. Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss (about the late all-star Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder)

3. Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power by Richard Carwardine

4. Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural by Ronald C. White Jr.

5. Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

6. Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks

7. Polio: An American Story by David Oshinsky (discussing how polio affected the United States in the mid-20th century)

8. The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth by Leigh Montville

9. The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry

10. Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

11. The Stranger by Albert Camus

Maybe instead of reading about baseball and powerful figures, Dude should be figuring out how to stop our children from dying in his war.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Labor of Love

It's unusual for me to disclose through a personal post, but I've been having a very hard time lately.  My novel (ten years in the making) has been out in the world, making its way.  It was read by two very trusted readers in the business, as well as not read by a few others (my agent, for instance).  Those who have read it think that the first part of the book really works, but the rest doesn't.  You'd think this news would be crushing, after all the time and effort I've put in, but I have to tell you I am feeling relieved.  In part, I'm so happy to have my novel back. My wrinkled, blue, just-born, not-yet-perfect novel (See image above: can one of those be shoved back in?).

During the time when I thought I was finished, I felt aimless and distraught.  I tried to bring back a couple of half-hearted new novel attempts, started at different points in the past decade, but I couldn't get my enthusiasm up. Is this because somewhere deep inside I knew the novel wasn't really right yet? Because I knew it wouldn't get published and ultimately it wouldn't be free of me (or me of it)? Or am I destined to feel this way at the completion of every overwhelming opus? (Will there be another?  Couldn't I just retire happily as a bank clerk somewhere in the Midwest?)  

Anyway, I have a fairly radical idea about how to address the problem of the second part of the novel not standing up to the opening.  And so I am with purpose and happy again.  I think this time I can make the entire book work, not just parts of it.  If so, I will let go more easily, right?  (Someone say right.) 

In the meantime, this particular carefully placed round of rejections have been very helpful in allowing me to see the novel more clearly.  You gotta love when that happens.  Not to invest too much gratitude in the old literary rejection (most of them just plain suck), but I think I played this round pretty well.  I only asked a few trustworthy people and got the same answer back.  I still have to figure out what to do, but at least I have a direction.

So, anyway, peeps, I'm back at it again.  And I'm weirdly happy about it.  I have my ugly little baby back in my arms, I guess. What a life we choose (or chooses us) when we set out to write a novel.  Sometimes I think I'm plain crazy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Million Writers Award

The final top 10 most notable online stories of 2007 have been chosen by storySouth's Jason Sanford (finally) for the Million Writer's Award Contest.  You can see the list here to read the chosen ones and to vote for your favorite.  Guess what: none of my stories (which were long listed) got chosen.  No surprise there, though I did hope to be in the top 10, so I could encourage all my fans to vote and become a Literary American Idol.  Oh well.

Narrative Online

Remember Narrative's Love contest?  Winners included Maud Newton and Janet Burroway, who were beaten out by Elizabeth Stuckey-French's "Interview with a Moron." All of the winning stories are now online for your comments, judgment, and praise.  So, let's hear what you think.  Are their love stories better than your love stories?

Monday, June 16, 2008

This One Stings!

A "Dear Writer" rejection is a slap in the face when a big-name editor personally agrees to read your finally completed novel, which she did, people; she really did. But the manuscript looks untouched, and clearly this undated, unaddressed form letter by Jr. Perez involved a major house cleaning at the old Tin House.
I don't know why I expected more from the editor whose invitation was a single email grunt with no punctuation or caps: "send in the mail," as if she really couldn't be bothered. (I guess she really couldn't be bothered.) I should have known, and yet somehow hope springs eternal when it comes to thinking this weight around my neck will someday be published.

I believe it will be. Someday. How's that for Monday morning optimism?

Friday, June 13, 2008

$3 Million for Non-Writer's Book

It's a sleepy publishing Friday, but I woke up (slightly) when I saw this bit of news in the New York Observer about a book deal for $3 million. The new boyfriend Dude (Russell Brand) who was in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall (featuring full-frontal naked Jason Segel) turns out to be a British comedian.  HarperCollins bought Brand's so-called "book of rants" for that hefty sum.  He probably won't even have to revise it, let alone write it himself. 

I guess you have to be pretty to get that kind of publishing attention, right?  I better get out my eyeliner.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One, Two, Three

"There are three rules to writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." --W. Somerset Maugham

Question of the month: What are the three?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What's Up with Del Sol Review?

Here's a literary magazine that seems to have gotten stalled in Spring 2007.  Del Sol Review has the following mission:

The goal of Del Sol Review is to publish the best work available anywhere, and only the best work. We do not compromise the publication due to political considerations, and we do not publish inferior work simply because a "name" tag comes attached. We do not publish writers because of their connections to us or anyone else. We reject such activities as harmful to the art. We publish a new issue only when we deem it ready.

We need more places like this to reject us.  Anybody know if edition #15 is ever coming out?  I'm sick of reading the same stories and looking at the same pictures.  Have they gone under?

Dasvidanya, Sucker

This came floating out of a Russian copy of Anna Karenina the other day.  Funny thing is I don't remember how to read Russian any more, and I don't remember this contest, though I probably felt thrown under the train at the time of this rejection. Isn't that the way of love and literature? Apparently the Pilgrimage Contest is still going.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Go Digital, Save Money

The Economist has an interesting article about ink book sales in the recession here.  Thanks to the Syntax of Things blog for pointing it out in a clever post called "spineless." Here are highlights from the original article:

The costs of printing and shipping paper and cardboard are rising. Mr DeForge says POD is now cheaper than standard printing for runs of fewer than 1,200 copies, and the threshold is rising quickly. And if consumers become more price-sensitive, e-books may become more appealing. This week's Kindle bestseller, a political memoir by Scott McClellan, a former White House spokesman, can be downloaded from thin air in less than a minute for $9.99. A paper copy costs $15.37 on Amazon's website, and will not be in stock for three weeks.

Oh, what will become of us?

Eatfest Rejectfest

One of our playwriting readers sent this standard rejection from Eatfest, noting that the rejection doesn't even bother to personalize the form letter with the name of the play:

From: Paul Adams
Date: June 10, 2008 6:53:25 AM EDT
Subject: Your one act submission

Thank you for submitting your one act for consideration for our Fall Eatfest. Unfortunately, it did not move to the semi final round. I do wish you luck with it in other venues. I look forward to reading more of your work in the future. 

Paul Adams Artistic Director Emerging Artists Theatre

The writer's pithy response to the rejection?  "Eat me."

Monday, June 9, 2008

You Are Promising, We Are Still Rejecting

I found this one at Otnipenop Blog (an anagram of the writing blogger's last name); the rejection is from a Tin House editor:

“Alas the editors have decided to pass. There were mixed opinions, but all agreed you have great promise.”

Amazingly, the writer is still very happy. I might be depressed even more, but, you know, that's me.  (Plus, what's hip Tin House doing using the A-word?)

Friday, June 6, 2008

i am neurotic

What makes you more crazy, reading this mesmerizing blog? Or knowing that it's probably the perfect kind of blog for a book deal?

Youngsters Take Over

The buzz is that Jane Friedman, the optimistic CEO (and mob boss?) of HarperCollins, is out on her ear.  You can read the New York Observer story here (complete with scary photo). 

The scoop from Galley Cat is that she is being replaced by Brian Murray who is 41.  Also dude who is heading up Random House (Markus Dohle) is 39.  So, the next time someone gives you the business about being 40 and a first time novelist, I think you should say that 40 is the new...shut up.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Top Ten Online Lit Mags

Bookfox reports the top ten online lit mags according to the Million Writers Award tally.  They are: 
  • Eclectica  (31 nominations)
  • Pindeldyboz (26)
  • Agni (16)
  • Strange Horizons (16)
  • Word Riot (16) 
  • Narrative Magazine (15)
  • Fiction Warehouse (13)
  • The King's English (12)
  • Mississippi Review (12)
  • Blackbird (11)
  • Blithe House Quarterly (11)
  • Storyglossia (11)
Click over to John's post because he has links to these fine mags.  And you probably want to send a story or two out immediately!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

I Am A Little Blue

As per Monday's Kafka quote, I've been busted by one of the anonymice in the comments section; it's true that I am a little depressed.  I'm sitting here on a pile of manuscripts (just finished a new collection of literary essays to add to the unpublished novel and short story collection), and though I'm waiting on a few muckety-mucks who could decide in my favor, sometimes I feel like I won't get any of it published unless I pour lighter fluid on myself the manuscripts and light us all on fire.  

Here is the most recent email I received from somebody who has read and published my work before:

"I'm sorry but we've had a very hard time marketing essay anthologies so I think this isn't the best fit for our current list. But the best of luck with it."

Mind you, this is someone with whom I have a fairly substantial connection. Also, note that, these are literary essays that have enjoyed mainstreamed publication in anthologies and have won several awards to boot.  But whatever.  Light the match? Depressing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Proper Format

If you are one of those people who fear that a lack of proper formatting has led to your life as a rejected writer, then you are going to love this stuff.  Writer William Shunn has put together some guidelines for you. He offers you samples for story, poem, and novel. He even offers you downloadable templates.  

So, now, there's no excuse.

Book Expo Relief

It's been pretty quiet in publishing lately, as many in the industry were and apparently are still at The ABA, now named Book Expo America (which sounds like some kind of spiritual boot camp for publishers, if you ask me).  But take heart, fellow and sister writers, for this means a temporary respite from rejections for us.  If you want to know who was there, click here for an attendance list.

Also if you have any interest in what goes on at Book Expo, just read the last few days of posts over at Galley Cat, which usually start with a sentence like, "I was talking to [important industry jack-ass] at Book Expo, and....."

UPDATE: There's some less boring stuff on Book Expo over at BoxFox.  Plus you can see what John Fox looks like.  That's interesting.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday's Philosophy

"You can hold back from the suffering of the world, you have free permission to do so, and it is in accordance with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could have avoided."  --Franz Kafka

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What's New in Rejection?