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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 Dreaming: Wouldn't It Be Great?

So Writer's Digest has a contest for the best 101 blogs for writers, and I was thinking maybe you all could help get LROD nominated under the "Just for Fun" category, or if we are feeling really cheeky about ourselves, the "Writing Communities" category.  If you're into this idea, you can send an email to with the subject line "101 Best Websites." (The deadline is Jan 1, 2009).  Your email can simply say: "," or you can write a little note about why you love LORD and think it should be nominated.  Or why you hate LROD and why it shouldn't be nominated, if you are that way inclined.  Feel free to be honest.  You know that's what we're all about.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Angel At The Fence--Too Good To Be True

Oh, Herman, Herman, Herman.  How could you think people wouldn't get miffed at this?  Did you think they wouldn't know? "I wanted to bring happiness to people," said Herman Rosenblat, the 79-year-old author of Angel At The Fence, according to the Huffington Post.  "I brought hope to a lot of people.  My motivation was to make good in this world." And yet, when you write a Holocaust memoir about a love story on opposites sides of the barbed-wire fence, and it's based on a lie, it's just never going to turn out well. Berkeley cancelled the book, which was due out on February 3rd, presumably in time for Valentine's Day.  However, the $25 million film adaptation will reportedly move forward.
Oh, Oprah, Oprah, Oprah. Why are we so confused about fact versus fiction? Maybe this will herald a return to the novel.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sometimes The World Catches Up

Scott Simon's satirical second novel about political corruption in Chicago is called Windy City (Random House, 2008).  The Daily Beast offers an excerpt here (story via Galley Cat).  I guess it's no surprise that after Governor Rod Blagojevich allegedly tried to peddle Obama's senate seat, the book got hot. Good for Simon.  Sometimes the universe cooperates and gives number two a boost, though couldn't the universe have picked someone more obscure to boost?  Oh well, such is life.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Sad Devaluing of Editors in the Book Industry

This is disturbing.  It's an article from an interesting blog called Holt Uncensored. Here's an excerpt:  "As I recall, the ganging up against editors started in the 1970s, when Michael Korda of Simon & Schuster said that editorial workers should acquire marketing savvy so they’d get out of their ivory towers and stop mumbling about literary values at sales conference. Until then there was at least an attempt to separate Editorial from Sales & Marketing so that acquisition decisions wouldn’t be tainted by commercial concerns. The editors acquired the books independently; they told the marketing people what to sell. Sales and Marketing got to decide how to sell them, but there was no backing-and-forthing, no suggestions made to editors, no intrusion into the editorial process."

Friday, December 26, 2008

What are you doing next year?

Have any after-Christmas plans yet?  How about this little ditty from Amazon, courtesy of the Bookaholic?
Announcing the 2009 Breakthrough Novel Award
The Breakthrough Novel Award brings together talented writers, reviewers and publishing experts to find and develop new voices in fiction. If you're an author with an unpublished novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to learn more about the next Breakthrough Novel Award and sign up for regular updates on the contest. Open submissions for manuscripts begin in February 2009.  The grand prize is publication and $25K.

You can read the rules here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

And To All A Good Night

Merry Christmas, Rosemary Ahern.  Merry Christmas Jacob Appel.  Merry Christmas, all you festive, cranky mice.  I hope your wishes come true.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Waiting to Reject You?

Poets & Writers features a cover on the four new young hot agents....who are waiting to reject you.  Two of these four have rejected me in years past, and one has written in to this blog.  
Also regarding this edition of P&W, I received an anonymous note: "Is it worth registering to see Jake Appel's obsequious tribute to writing contests? I suppose it is if you're obsessed with him...............isn't this what you've always wanted, Dr. Rejected? A glimpse inside of the prince of darkess? If he is one man, of course, and not a consortium of desperate graduate students." (I don't find the article.  Do you? If so please send link.) I believe the clever doctor reference has to do with this article.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Things Never to Appear in the New Yorker

Remember the post about Mike Lynch's 27 cartoon rejections and then his rejection from a book about cartoons rejected from the New Yorker?  Well, the book (Rejection Collection) was eventually published, and its author, Matthew Diffee, had this to say about it. Since them, Volume 2: The Cream of the Crap, has been released.  I wonder if Mike Lynch's rejected cartoons made it into that book?  Somehow I think not.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Rejection Saga From Hell

There's an interestingly comprehensive rejection trouncing over at a site called Resumes from Hell (also the name of a much rejected humor book).  The authors (Jon Reed and Rachel Meyers) had a reportedly 0/1,000,000 success ratio, before they gave up and self-published.  There are ten other rejections over there.  Plus you a link to the book (which you can buy at Amazon), reviews, and interviews.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Rejection Outside Is Frightful

Snow storm!!!!!  LROD is cancelled today due to weather.  (It's like being snowed in under a blanket of rejection, only this time it's cold and wet.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Miscellany Reject Reads

  1. SYLVIA PLATH rejected because: "There isn't enough genuine talent."
  2. JACK KEROUAC rejected due to: "Frenetic...scrambling."
  3. ANNE FRANK rejected for being: "Very dull."
  4. GEORGE ORWELL rejected because it's: "Impossible to sell animal stories."
  5. JORGE LUIS BORGES rejected as: "Utterly untranslatable"
  6. VLADIMIR NABOKOV rejected for being: "Too racy."
  7. ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER rejected insultingly: "It's Poland and the rich Jews again."
  8. ANAIS NIN rejected because there's:  "No commercial advantage in acquiring her."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Have Rejected >1000 Books

Have a peek into the mind of rejecting book editor, Jean Hannah Edelstein, here.  Isn't it exactly what you've always expected you'd find if you cracked open one of those nuts? Here's a highlight: "...writing rejection letters is a delicate skill, one that must be fine-tuned over time (weeks, even) as one digs out from under the slush pile. For it is not easy to achieve and balance the two central goals of a truly accomplished rejection letter: trying not to make the writer feel distraught whilst also discouraging him or her from ever contacting you ever again." Nice.  I wonder if Bill Shapiro will take one of her "carefully crafted pieces of heartbreaking" rejection in his forthcoming book Other People's Rejection Letters.  Maybe as a measure of karma, he should reject Ms. Edelstein, though even I wouldn't wish that on my worst, enemy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You Ought To Be In Movies

Andrew Kiraly at Yankee Pot Roast: A Journal of Literary Satire Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited has a brilliant post entitled, "My Recent Rejection Slips, Rendered in the Same Manner in which Movie Advertisement Selectively Quote Reviews."  It's worth clicking over there for a look, but here are a few gems:
  • "Your story our standards..." --American Literary Review
  • "We...publish it...we appreciate..." --The Paris Review
  • "...You..." --Prarie Schooner
Great site, by the way, my new fave--a little bit like McSweeney's only better.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Scrappy Slipstream Rejection

Here's a rejection I found on the Internets: I think it says "MH: Sorry none from your recent batch [of submitted poems] worked for us."  There's something a little bit charming about this scrap-of-envelope rejection.  As the owner says, it sure beats a cold form rejection.  I can't quite make out the journal or the editor's name.  Maybe it says Coldstream?  Not sure.

UPDATE:  Readers have indicated that this rejection is from Slipstream.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Darin Strauss Rats Us Out

Remember Darin Strauss?  Remember how we all read his book and some of us came to the online book club and discussed his literary merit?  Well, dude is featured in an article by the Village Voice entitled, "Bloggers vs. An Author: No One Wins." However, in a very uncool fashion, Darin did not mention all the love he ultimately received here.  As the loyal LROD reader who pointed the article out to me said, the Village Voice doesn't "give any credit to the commenters who were civil to Strauss" or the fact that our book club probably sold a few books for him, "despite the fact that he never deigned to show his face around the site again."  

In the article, he claims to worry that people will think he's a jerk.  Maybe he isn't, but this seems to me to be jerky behavior.  If that part accidentally got left out of the article, he could at least write a letter of correction.  AFTER ALL WE READ & PROMOTED HIS BOOK.

Anyway, if you don't want to read the whole boring article,  just cut to page 3 &4 for a discussion of this blog, which is deliberately not named; I suppose they didn't want to return the publicity favor.  Guess we know what he thinks of us!

UPDATE:  Got an apologetic email from Darin, who said he did tell his friend, the Village Voice journalist, all about our friendly exchange and promotion of his book, but the dude chose not to include it.  Guess it would kind of ruin the title of the article.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bury Your Unpublished Novel

After pitching her novel to sixteen New York publishers, Mary Patrick Kavanaugh buried her dream (and the novel) in an open casket funeral in Oakland on December 6.  She invites you to join her at  She even offers you a free tip sheet entitled "Six Easy Ways to Overcome Dead Dreams, Dashed Hopes, and Disappointments." You can buy her novel Family Plots at Amazon.  Now that's pluck!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Train is Coming to Run You Down

Here's a great question from one of the anonymice:

I am wondering if it's common for Glimmer Train to send a link to their Editor's Perspective page with their form rejections.

I clicked on the link they sent me thinking it might go to my account where an editor had left some actual feedback, but it turned out to be a 6-page manifesto of why nobody is good enough for them. For every example on the cite of why a piece might have failed to capture them, I can think of a timeless short story that commits the same sin. But the most pretentious part of it was their various takes on Literary Fiction. Here is a gem:

'Although plot is lower on the literary totem pole than in, say, a mystery, what goes on in a story must follow some logic.'

I know they don't mean that plot is unimportant, but that's an odd comparison to me; it could be construed that they think Literary Fiction = plotless fiction. But they do publish many plotless doozies, so maybe they really DO think literary = plotless.

Those chicks need to get over themselves in a bad way. Does everybody get this link?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fictionville Insults

Here's a real beauty of a rejection sent in today from an anonymous LROD reader: Thank you for your story. I will not publish ["Title of Story"] on Fictionville. Although the last sentence of the story was better than all of the previous text, the narrator in each of your stories appears petulant, trifling, misogynistic, boring, self-important, and whiny. The stories turn out to be pretty awful. You are welcome to send other stories. Thank You, Paul Anderson, editor,
Seriously?  After that slam-down, dude wants to see more work?  There must have been something good in there.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

No Thanks, But Buy My Book

I found another literary agent capitalizing on writerly desperation with products  aimed at helping you get published.  Maybe I'm too cynical; maybe his books are genuinely meant to be helpful. I wonder if this guy also promotes his book with every rejection.  I think it's a bad trend. What about you guys?

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Am A Powerful Person And I Have Something to Say

It was suggested to me by a fairly well-known, successful writer, who (by some stroke of luck) happened to read the first two-thirds of my current novel revision, that I need to "step into my power as a writer." How is that for advice?  It was pointed out that my conflict about power is an internal problem that can be resolved. Other points to consider: possibly changing the verb tense I'm using, possibly changing the point of view I've chosen.  
Interesting suggestions.  

I'm trying to listen to myself, though; my powerful, powerful self.  

Thoughts about this, anybody?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Publishing Fall Out

Despite the fact that publishing was considered a repression-proof industry pre-1990, everyone in the shaky book biz felt the hit this week on what book professionals are calling "Black Wednesday." Hold on to your hats, people; this is just the beginning:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

An LROD Rejection Proposal

A lot of readers have suggested that I get off my fat ass and do something useful about the problematic rejection situation of the postmodern world. Usually, I just laugh it off, and whine some more, but recently I was sifting around the Internet, and I found this incredibly cool cartoon  form rejection (scroll down after the click to find it) from Raw Magazine, the comics anthology that launched the likes of Art Spiegelman and Robert Crumb, among others.  So with thanks to those cool dudes, I thought I'd try to adapt it for our literary purposes.

See what you think of my proposal for an all-out standardized punch-list rejection form, useful, I submit, in any rejection situation:

Dear _____________ [fill in writer's actual name]:

Sorry this is a form letter, but: 
 we reject hundreds of manuscripts a day
 we are really, really exhausted right now, not to mention a little lazy
 we're rude as all hell, and make no apologies about it
 that's life

We don't feel your submission is appropriate for us at this time because: 
 your writing style is inadequate at the most basic level. (Have you considered taking a writing class somewhere?)
 your writing style is technically good, but you don't have anything to say;  you should get some real life experience, or find a better topic
 we don't care for this particular story at all; would anyone?
 your story is proficient, but it's not to our liking
 we are speechless, but not in a good way

Your style is nice, but would probably be better placed elsewhere because:
 it's too long for us
 it's the wrong genre for us
 it's the wrong format for us
 we have high standards and think you can make this much better
 we think the only way to get this thing published is via self-publication

 we do like your characters 

 we appreciate your concept 
 we dig your plot 
 we admire your writing 
 we marvel at your diabolical brain 
 we are fond of your metaphors 
 we approve your font choice

 Perhaps you should submit this to: _________________________________________________
(list as many appropriate alternates as possible)

 your family and friends only; there's nothing wrong with that

In the meantime, be assured that:
 we'd like to see more of your work as you continue to develop your craft
 if you write something that better fits our style and requirements, we'd be happy to take a look
 we're just another bunch of bozos on the bus; what do we know?
 we think you need to go back to the drawing board before you submit another story here, or anywhere, even to your mom
 we think you're close to getting your work published; don't give up now
 you really should never try us again; we won't change our minds about you

Finally, please keep in mind that:
 your work is good, so you shouldn't be discouraged
 your work is far off the mark, so you should be discouraged
 one more rejection shouldn't make or break you;if you're a writer at heart (and we suspect you are), you'll learn to embrace rejection as a natural state of being

If your work is not enclosed with this note and you want it returned:
 please contact ____________________________________ in our office via email only
 send return postage
 accept our apology because we've lost the damn thing

Your most humble publishing servant,

[signature here]
Revision ideas are welcome.  If you approve, maybe we'll try to get it accepted as standard.  I think it would reduce rejection time and humbly offer potentially useful information to writers. It would be interesting to get feedback from writers, as well as editors, agents, and literary journal publishers, don't you think?

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.


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.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

We Only Want What We Can't Have

Not all editors are angry when you take back your manuscript, but they do manage to get their revenge.  Here's an example that I snitched off of poet David Hernandez's website from Oberlin College Press' poetry journal called Field. (I assume that Hernandez submitted several poems simultaneously, one of which got accepted elsewhere, so he wrote to the journal to withdraw the one poem from consideration, as is a common practice.) It says: "Dear David Hernandez: We're sorry you had to withdraw 'The Soldier Inside the House' -- all of us liked it, and I think it would have been accepted.  None of these others quite made it for us, but please keep trying us with your work.  Thanks, David Walker.  I love that Walker acknowledges Hernandez's reversal rejection, while still managing to trump him with a standard rejection of all his other poems.  Guess Walker got the last laugh.  Also it's wonderfully tentative that he "thinks it would have been accepted." Funny how everyone wants only what isn't available any more, isn't it?

Monday, December 1, 2008

You Are No Flannery O'Connor, Friend

Given my feelings about Flannery O'Connor, you can understand my disappointment over this standard rejection.  Bummer.