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Saturday, December 31, 2011

From an iMouse's iPhone

This one really lets you know who is rejecting you, in hierarchical order.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Yale Spells Your Name Wrong

Here's a rejection from an anonymice:
Dear Ms. [Last Name Spelled Wrong]: Although in the end we could not find a place for your story, we want you to know that we gave it a careful reading. Thank you for your interest in the Review. Sincerely, The editors

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

All Story All The Time

Zoetrope remains an enigma to me. Does your story have to seem like it would make a good movie? Not sure.  Anyway, here's a rejection sent in by a very industrious mouse who submits stories all the time.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Nothing Much to Say About This One

basalt [dark-colored, fine-grained] 
Dear Writer: Thank you for your submission to basalt. We regret that it does not meet our current needs. We appreciate your interest in basalt and wish you the very best luck publishing your work elsewhere. Sincerely, The Editors 
Eastern Oregon University One University Blvd, La Grande, Oregon 97850

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Missouri Review Gets Off On It...?

An LROD reader sent this funny note to me (using my real first name). Look at me, living in the light!:
You might want to blog about this. The Missouri Review Editor's Prize just ended, and they managed to say the last line (quoted below) with a straight face...Strange, considering we had that intern in the comments section a little while ago saying that Speer particularly looks for first-time authors. (I've quoted that comment after the Missouri Review comment below). Cheers and love the blog!   
From the Missouri Review: 
"We received over 2500 manuscripts this year, and the overall quality was extraordinarily good, making our decision a difficult one. This is of course a good thing: selecting winners of a contest should never be easy, and it certainly wasn’t for us. We’re very thankful to all the writers who entered this year. TMR is only as good as the work we publish, and we are grateful that so many writers sent us their very best work. We were particularly thrilled to find out, after we accepted her work, that “Unintended” will be Yuko Sakata’s first published story!" 
From an intern about this matter: 
"I've interned at the Missouri Review and I can say this: 3) as much as you probably won't believe this, TMR is sort of embarrassingly proud when they get a writer's first publication. so they aren't only trying to publish writers who know them. they are actively hunting out new writers because they get off on it."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Here's an article called "25 Things Writers Should Know About Rejection."  Self described as "booze-soaked, profanity-laden shotgun blast of dubious writing advice." Note how Chuck Wendig sells his own books. Enterprising.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Eat That, Mcsweeney's

From an LROD reader:
Do you still want rejections from anonymice? Do you care anymore?*Last Friday I got an email from the folks at Epiphany saying they were accepting a story and that it was going to press Monday. Okay. Great. Wham, bam. I scrambled around to the various places I'd simultaneously submitted, trying to figure out the best way to withdraw the story. Turns out online submissions, which make submitting so gloriously easy, are not all so easily withdrawn. In any case, I sent an email to some virtual soul at McSweeney's telling them to please withdraw my story, and I was sorry, and all that...and not twelve hours later I got their standard rejection. How do you like them apples?!
* Of course I do. I care very deeply.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Who's Calling Whom?

Here's a rejection from Cornell University. Hope no one "gorged out."
Cornell University
251 Goldwin Smith
Ithaca, NY 14853
We regret that we are not able to place your work in our magazine. We're sorry to disappoint you, and we thank you for submitting to EPOCH.
EPOCH is published three times a year. Unsolicited submissions are reviewed from 15 September to 15 April of each year. Sample issues are available from the above address at $5.00 per copy, postage paid.
In other news, since Sunday's publication, 7 agents have contacted me. How's that for a turn of the tables? A few of them are former rejecters of mine. But I'm all set in the agent category with Secret Agent Man. So, "no thanks!" (That's good-sport code for "bite me," which I know is not very nice. You'll pardon me, I'm sure.)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Who Among You Figured it Out?

Have you been listening carefully, little mousicles? If so, you know Today Is The Day! Blast off!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Get-The-Point Review

They don't fool around in the windy city:
The University of Chicago. 5801 South Kenwood Avenue. Chicago, IL 60637
Dear Author, Thank you for submitting to Chicago Review. We're sorry to report that we are not going to publish your story.Good luck placing it elsewhere. The Editors 
(T-minus 3 and counting. It promises to blow you away.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Count Down 2011

T-minus 4 days to a mind-blowing moment. Also, Jackson Bliss, novelist and fellow blogger extraordinaire, offered up some important opines in numerical order on this LROD post; seems fair that I post what he has to say for all to read. Plus, I like what the dude has to say:
     1. My writing blog is about transparency + honesty. I post every good rejection, every snarky rejection, every acceptance + whatever else comes to my mind. You don't have to agree with that, but for you to assume I haven't considered the consequences of what I'm doing is slightly insulting + also untrue. That's just how I roll with my blog + many aspiring fiction writers have thanked me for my honesty, so i feel like i'm doing something right.
     2. Personally, I'm sick of all the kowtowing that aspiring fictions are expected to do in this industry. We're supposed to shut up + just take it until we're too famous to shut up. But I think we have important things to say BEFORE we ever become famous, which will probably be never anyway. Also, I wasn't writing back to Nat Sobel's assistant to be an asshole, I was just being honest with her + communicating to her how I feel, which honestly, people don't do ENOUGH in this industry for fear of being blacklisted. I was sincerely grateful for all of the time she spent reading my partials, but look, I don't have to agree with her analysis + I don't. I have enough friends who have already made it as literary fiction writers so I'm not being speculative when I say that I have issues with anyone suggesting that Junot Diaz has a limited readership.
     3. As for platform, though I don't agree with it, writers of color are given a "writers of color" platform by predominantly white editors. They're usually categorized as an ethnic writer, a black commercial fiction writer, a female Asian-American novelist + that's the market they target. I have nothing to do with that, but the reality is that I have a WAY better chance of selling my shit as an Asian-American writer (which I am, though only hapa) than I do as another male writer. Beyond that, a little context: In one of Nat Sobel's interviews, he argues that not only do non-fiction writers need a platform-- a position that many agents agree with, by the way--but that these days, considering how non-fiction sales have overtaken fiction sales by like a lot, now even FICTION writers need a platform, so that's what I was referring to when I talked about platform. If you read a few more of my entries, you'll see that. Also, I personally think that a fiction writer should be able to write from whatever cultural perspective s/he wants, but I think the market expects platforms: They want Asians to write Asian stories, they want the former heroin addict to write a memoir about being a junkie, not about his love of plants. Don't believe me? Pick up a copy of almost any Asian-American writer + scan their publishing history? How many of them are writing stories about white people? While I may not agree with this, I do acknowledge the market, so I'm simply trying to figure out the best way to place my own writing, nothing more.
     4. If an agent was seriously considering me + then s/he dropped me because I had too much attitude, then that agent wasn't the right agent for me, pure + simple. Great agents want great art + someone they can work with. I work so fucking hard on my writing, I'm dedicated + open to editorial suggestions + I don't have unrealistic expectations for what agents/editors do. I feel like you guyz are making a lot of assumptions about me as a writer knowing almost nothing about me + based on an entry or two. You don't fucking know me at all. And also: Your critiques of me almost suggest that the publishing industry is without flaws, but it's totally fucked up. Even my friends that are editors for commercial publishing houses are discouraged. Prominent agents are scared shitless about publishing fiction from debut authors. It's a hostile landscape to art, + yet you're criticizing me for feeling (expressing) that the industry is fucked up + that I have issues with it? That's insane. Dudes, I've interned at a major publishing house, so I know a couple of well-known editors. I have friends who are agents, literary journal stars, total unknown writers with unbelievable talent + everything in between, so I'm not talking from some solipsistic perch here. The industry is in bad shape + it's ripe for critiquing. And if you knew me + if you'd read my blog, you'd know that.
     5. For many years, I played the diplomacy game. I took each kind rejection, shut my mouth + hoped that my hard work would be enough, but now I don't want to + that doesn't make me dumb, or arrogant. It makes me human. I simply want to express how I feel + not censor myself just because I think it increases my chances of getting it published--I really don't think it does, by the way. You need talent intersecting with luck intersecting with people with power. There are tens of thousands of aspiring fiction writers who will never be published EVER + it's not because they're not talented enough, it's because some of them give up, some of them lose heart, some of them find other media to publish their voices + only a few actually make it. I'd rather hold on to my stubborn confidence, which has kept me in this game for awhile now, + by the way, has given me some fantastic responses from agents + some decent publications + a lot of hope for the future. If you disagree with my approach, I can respect that, but to call me arrogant, dumb + irritating because I have the gall to simply communicate anything besides "thank you ma'am" to an agent's assistant seems very harsh + judgmental to say the least. Additionally, I'd argue that the reason I'm getting my PhD at USC in Literature + Creative Writing is precisely it's one of the best ways to try + find a job teaching CW + finding patronage for my own art. I'm hardly unrealistic about what it takes to live/breathe as a fiction writer.
     Anyway, I thought you were creating a strawman of both me + my writing blog, so I just wanted to present the other side. I hope you'll be open to some of the things I said.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Look Who's Gone Digital!

From: Fiction,   
Date: Tue, Nov 29, 2011  
Subject: Re: via contact us form 

We regret that we are unable to use the enclosed material. Thank youfor giving us the opportunity to consider it. 
The Editors

Monday, November 28, 2011

Submishmash Crash

A service that will send out rejections for your organization?  I suppose so. It's cloud-based. That's good to know:
Dear [Writer/First Name]: Thanks for giving us the chance to read your work; unfortunately, it doesn't meet our needs at this time. However, we promise that if you keep writing, we'll keep reading. All the best, The Editors, Arts & Letters You are receiving this email because you have an account with a publisher or organization that uses Submishmash. If you'd like to unsubscribe and stop receiving all notification emails from Submishmash organizations, please CLICK HERE TO UNSUBSCRIBE.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Drink the Milk of Love

I'm grateful for many things this year, peeps. I know, I know: my novel got completely crunched up in the agent machinery, I was rejected after a year of hope, and now I have two versions of the novel and don't know what the hell to do.  (Actually, I've contacted an editor who is going to help me with it, I hope.) But I do have an agent interested in my non-fiction book proposal, and I have an exciting piece of news about the project, but I have to wait until it's a done deal before I announce it. I also believe that some of you brighter mice will be learning my identity at some point....seems like sooner rather than later.  So hold on to your tiny little anonymice hats. Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you had a calm and peaceful holiday with your families and friends. It's good for all of us to focus on the important stuff of life, and not just our writing, sometimes. Right?  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Seriously Love Kurt Vonnegut. Have I Mentioned?

Here's one from the archives from the Atlantic Monthly, just to show that even KV got the heave-ho from time to time.  Lots to be Thankful for this year. Will write my annual list tomorrow.  I'm off to my in-laws, so it promises to be better than last year's disaster. Don't eat too much Tofurky mice; it will only make you sleepy vegans.
August 29, 1949
Dear Mr. Vonnegut:
We have been carrying out our usual summer house-cleaning of the manuscripts on our _____bench and in the file, and among them I find the three papers which you have shown me as samples of your work.  I am sincerely sorry that no use of theses seems to us well suited or our purpose.  Both the account of the bombings of Dresden and your article, "What's a Fair Price for Golden Eggs?" have drawn ____________ although neither one is quite compelling enough for our final acceptance.
Our staff remains fully manned as I cannot hold out the hope of an editorial assignment, but I shall e glad to know that you have found a promising opening elsewhere. Faithfully yours, Edward Weeks.
Photo of rejection courtesy the Saturday Evening Post. Fill in the words if you can and let me know what they are; I can't read them off the photo of the framed letter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Definition of No

This rejection was sent in by an LROD reader, who notes the turn around time was quick, a few days. Seems Jacob, Ass. Ed. is quick on his feet. Clever, too:
Dear Writer: Thank you for sending your story along, but I'm afraid it's not quite right for Harper's Magazine. Please know that we publish only twelve stories a year and receive hundreds of submissions for each one of those spots; under such circumstances, a "no" should be taken to mean "no room" as opposed to "no good". Best of luck placing the story elsewhere, and best of luck with all your writing. Sincerely, Jacob [Illegible], Editorial Assistant

Monday, November 21, 2011

Put Me in The Crazy House!

Bellevue Literary Review is for medical writing...and crazy people:*
Dear Writer: Thank you for submitting your work to the Bellevue Literary Review. We appreciate the efforts that have gone into this piece. Unfortunately, given the volume of submissions we receive, even quality work often has to be declined. Please be assured that your piece was read thoroughly and given careful consideration by our editorial staff. We wish you luck in placing this elsewhere, and apologize for not being able to offer a personal reply. Sincerely, The Editors, Bellevue Literary Review ( NOTE: Please do not reply to this e-mail -- we are unable to respond personally to messages sent to this address.
*not really.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Fugue is a Dissociative State

This came from an LROD reader.  I've been in this fugue state before myself:
Thank you for sending us "Title". We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us. Thanks again. Best of luck with this. Sincerely, Fugue

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blah, Blah, Blah...Superior!

I grew up in the Great Lakes Region, but never heard it called "Third Coast" before.  Who knew. Here's a rejection from a reader from Third Coast Literary Magazine:
Thank you for submitting your work for our consideration. We regret that we are unable to accept it for publication in Third Coast. We wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere.--The Editors

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rejections from Binghamton (Also Writers)

Dear Writer [First and Last Name]: Thank you for submitting your work to Harpur Palate. Though it does not meet our current needs, we appreciate the opportunity to consider it for publication. We wish you the best in placing it elsewhere. As writers ourselves, we know how much effort goes into each piece you send out, so we regret the use of a form rejection, but the volume of manuscripts we receive makes a personal reply impossible. Sincerely, Sara Erdmann, Harpur Palate

Friday, November 11, 2011

Check it


Cool new interactive book design of the future, courtesy of MediaBistro. Check it out. Drag your mouse across the book. What? No way. That's pretty awesome.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pass We Must At the House of Tin

Why do they bug me at Tin House?  They just do:
Thank you for sending us "Title." Unfortunately, we must pass at this time. Best of luck placing your work elsewhere. Sincerely, Tin House Editors

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rejection from the Sea

Dear Writer: Thank you for sending your work to Mid-American Review (MAR). After careful deliberation, we have decided not to accept it for publication, though we wanted to let you know that we read it with more than the casual amount of interest, that your work in some way caught our eye. We hope that you will send more work our way in the future. We also wish you luck in all of your literary endeavors, including placing this submission in another publication. Best wishes, Michael Czyzniejewski, Editor

Monday, November 7, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011


This fresh rejection is from AGNI:
Dear Writer: Thank you for giving AGNI the opportunity to read your work. We found the writing lively and interesting and enjoyed reading it. After careful consideration, we've decided that this manuscript isn't right for us, but please consider sending other work in the future. THIS IS NOT OUR CUSTOMARY REJECTION SLIP. Kind regards, The Editors PS: Without submissions like yours, we'd lose the sense of discovery that keeps AGNI fresh. Please see the other side for a discounted subscription rate offered as a thank-you to our submitters.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Never Heard of This One

Still no electricity; thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.  Here's a rejection to tide you over:
Dear [First Name]: We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, but we will not be publishing your submission, "Title." We wish you luck placing it elsewhere. Thanks very much for your interest in HFR - we hope you'll submit to us again! Sincerely, The Editors, Hayden's Ferry Review 
You are receiving this email because you have an account with a publisher or organization that uses Submishmash.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

No Juice

That freaky snow storm that hit has knocked my town out of power for a few days.  Supposed to be back up and running on Thursday. Meanwhile, it's freezing and dark at my house and office. Some parts of our town have power so, I'm out on the move, looking for electric plugs and Wi-fi.  May be spotty with the posts for a few days.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Long Road to Rejection

I published something in Post Road once, I think. This was sent in by an LROD reader:
Dear Writer: We appreciate the opportunity to read "Title", but unfortunately this submission was not a right fit for Post Road.Thank you for considering us. Sincerely, The Editors of Post Road

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Letter From A Reformed Editor

Dear WR,

I'm a long-time reader of LROD and first want to say best of luck on your new literary journey. I just wanted to share with you and your readers my experience as a writer-turned-editor of a zine. If anyone is thinking of becoming the same thing, I hope they don't repeat my mistakes.

I have been on the receiving end of more rejections than I can count and I got the point where could no longer bear to be just another insignificant, replaceable little cog in the literary machine. I wanted to be someone who turned the crank--an editor. So in 2009 I started an online lit mag, which thank God no longer exists. I'm withholding its name because I don't want to face backlash from former contributors.

I started out as a good editor, adopted a submission policy that was painless, with just a few simple formatting guidelines that made it easier for me to upload the stories and poems to the site. Reprints and sim subs were OK by me. I sent out polite, encouraging form rejections and called authors by their names instead of "writer." I responded after a few weeks tops. I couldn't pay, but I did nominate stories for Pushcarts, Best-of-the-Webs, and tried to promote good writing.

The magazine's masthead listed several fake names of editors and readers so people wouldn't think it was just another personal website masquerading as a literary journal. In reality, there were only 1 and 1/4 people running the zine: me, and friend who occasionally read batches of poetry submissions. Looking back, it was a mistake to accept poetry. I can recognize bad poetry and know when to reject it, but I'm clueless when it comes to distinguishing between ok and good poetry.

Things went well during the first few months after its inception. I received a manageable trickle of submissions thanks to Duotrope, and I could find enough decent stories and poems to put out an issue every month or so. But as the magazine gained more of a following, reading the submissions became impossible.

The overall quality of stories decreased drastically as their number grew. In the early phase, one out of ten submissions was good enough to publish by my standards. When things got out of control, maybe one out of 250. Even if I had switched to a quarterly schedule, I wouldn't have had enough time to find enough publishable pieces.

I don't want to rag on some of the awful riterz I've had the displeasure of reading. But there was one guy who kept submitting stupid stories ripped off from episodes of popular TV shows (Lost, Mad Men, the Sopranos). Clunky prose, stilted dialogue, inconsistent use of tense and person, not knowing the difference between dessert and desert, or then and than -- and turns out this guy was a current MFA student at a university two towns over from where I lived. He's not even the worst; there was also an ESL guy from Croatia who insisted that his pieces were "endowed of top editing by top English speak." ESL man might have been a prankster; every story was a variation on man meets hooker, hooker under-delivers, man stiffs hooker.

Anyway, one weekend afternoon in late 2010, I was frantically skimming submissions trying to find at least a handful I could bear to publish. I was past the deadline and there was a backlog of months-old stories and poems that still hadn't been read. Even when I filtered out the kooks, and the idiots who sent attachments when I specifically said not to, the slush pile was winning and I was losing.

I took a deep breath and evaluated the situation objectively. Would a sane person do what I was doing? Why was I doing this? Was I getting the fulfillment of being an editor? No. And I wasn't even making good literary contacts. My writing time was being sacrificed for the sake of reading bad writing. I needed to stop immediately, and so I did.

I logged out of my submissions manager, opened up Paint, and created an image that said H4CK3D. I then logged in to my server, deleted all the files from my site, and uploaded the image. Problem solved. My online literary magazine was officially hacked and could no longer publish anything or process new submissions. I didn't notify my past contributors or the authors of pending submissions. I just tore it all down, walked away and never looked back.

It was a shitty thing to do, but really for the best. Everyone whose stories I published could resubmit them to better journals and forget the whole thing even existed. Hell, I've had my stories unpublished when online zines shut down, and I just resubmitted them elsewhere. Other editors don't care.

The experience made me realize several things that I was unaware of or had overlooked before:

  • Being an editor isn't all that it's cracked up to be (unless you edit the Paris Review or New Yorker).
  • Don't let "editors" get you down about your writing. Anyone can call himself an editor.
  • Some editors are more aptly called "selectors," since they do very little editing. Anyone can be a selector.
  • Blowhard editors, like some who have commented here, probably start out as nice people, but reading so much crap for so long will warp your attitude towards writers. I'm glad I stopped before I became a dick.
  • Slow response times and curt form rejections really are nothing personal.
  • The slush pile is as bad as everyone says it is. At a non-paying zine, even worse.
  • On the bright side, if you are college-educated and read and write on a regular basis, your stories are probably in the top 10% of submissions. Even if you think you are a mediocre writer, there are tons of writers much worse. The fact that you can recognize mediocrity in your own writing is a point in your favor. Having to read so much dreck actually improved my self-confidence as a writer, though I don't recommend anyone try it for themselves.

How to not run a zine into the ground:

  • Have an actual staff! You can't do it on your own, don't even try!
  • Pay your writers. It's the right thing to do and your magazine will be better for it. If you can't make enough money from ads, subscriptions, and contest fees, you shouldn't be in this business. Exposure isn't payment.

Not to mention, how to be a better submitter:

  • Follow the damn guidelines. They are not arbitrary.
  • Proofread
  • Don't copy another story/movie/TV show. Chances are your editor is more well-read than you think and will spot it. We're not all boobs!
  • A cover letter with awards, publications, and degrees won't help you if your story sucks.
  • Don't worry if you can't write a cover letter with a list of awards, publications, and degrees. Lit mags want to publish stories, not cover letters. Good writing can stand on its own.
  • Thank the readers/editors for reading your submission. It may work in your favor.

And how to be a bolder submitter:

  • Always sim sub.
  • Never stop submitting to a journal just because they've rejected all of your previous submissions.
  • Don't be afraid to resend a rejected story if you've reworked it
  • If you can handle criticism, don't be afraid to ask why your submission was rejected. You might actually get a response.
  • Thank the editor for his comments, even if they are idiotic and the guy's a dick. Never stoop to being a dick.

I hope that this is of value to some of your readers, thanks for taking the time to read my missive!

Editor, Resigned

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No Fit Rejection

Dear Writer: We appreciate the opportunity to read "Title", but unfortunately this submission was not a right fit for Post Road.Thank you for considering us. Sincerely, The Editors of Post Road

Friday, October 21, 2011

Go Team Fiction!

There's an advertisement in that thar rejection:
Thank you for your submission to Able Muse. We have read your story carefully and unfortunately it did not meet our present needs. The best way to find out what we publish is by reading Able Muse. The latest issue, No. 11, Summer 2011 is available in print and online at. We invite our readers to get all the details on subscription information. --For the Fiction Team at Able Muse.
Sorry for the spotty posting; a family member had emergency surgery and I've been shuffling to the hospital and back. Everything is okay, but it's been quite a season of urgent matters. Luckily, all is turning out well in the end.

p.s. Writing Update: I am, it turns out, working with Secret Agent Man on a proposal for the nonfiction book....shhh! Also, I contacted an editor who once almost bought my second short story collection (still unpublished) and she is going to have a look at my novel and give me her professional editing opinion. I am paying her for this service, so it's a hired opinion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Missouri Misery

Thank you for giving us the chance to consider “Title” for publication in The Missouri Review. Though it does not fit our current needs, we appreciate your interest in our magazine and your commitment to quality writing. We wish you the best of luck publishing your work and hope you’ll consider sending us more in the future. Sincerely, The Editors

Monday, October 17, 2011

Publishing News Flash (Go Back to The Old Way)

This just in: Harper Perennial has figured out how to fix publishing; don't give writers big advances. Here's a highlight:
Harper Perennial’s model isn’t unique, but it’s an intriguing case study in what an imprint needs to do to distinguish itself in an increasingly stratified market. What it does is innovative and exciting, but also traditional. The imprint nurtures young writers, orchestrates creative — occasionally quite elaborate — marketing schemes, and packages its content in gorgeously designed paperback originals.  There is no star system, no bidding wars, no big names...and the imprint keeps its costs down by offering most writers modest advances for first novels and debut story collections.
Well, I do have to say that the Blockbuster, Super-Star, MacDonald's Cheeseburger Model of publishing did pretty much fuck us over, those of us who were never going to get a 6-figure advance. So, maybe it's not so terrible to scale back the horrors of capitalism-gone-mad. Seems like they've just gone back to the old way of publishing books and making them attractive to readers.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Emerge It Somewhere Else, Bub

Dear Emerging Voices Applicant:  
Thank you for applying to the 2012 Emerging Voices Fellowship. We regret we are unable to offer you a place in the 2012 program.  
There were an overwhelming number of exceptional applicants, and unfortunately, a very limited number of spots available for Fellows. We wish you the best of luck in the future.  
Sincerely, Libby Flores,  
Program Manager, 
Emerging Voices & The Mark Program 
PEN Center USA 
A community of writers defending freedom of expression and building a literary culture

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

You Can't Keep A Crazy Mo-Fo Down

One thing I do pretty well, surly and happy mice, is bounce back. I'm already working a new angle on the new non-fiction book proposal and making traction with a new agent. Your loss, Agent 99, and the 98 who came before! (Actually, when I put it that way, I see something effed-up about my formula.) It's just not that personal. I once had lunch with this editor who'd passed up an insanely successful, pulitzer-prize-winning literary book. I asked her if she regretted letting the opportunity pass, and she said. "Naw, I just didn't like it that much!" I did hear the faint sound of "ka-ching, ka-ching" ringing somewhere behind her dead eyes, but she did seem to believe her own b.s. Whatever. They have their own formulas for success and they are working in a dying business, or so everyone says.  It does occur to me that maybe after a while you stop feeling the blows so acutely when you are being pummeled.  Not sure.  But, anyway, onward! as Howard Junker would say. Let's not let anything hold us back now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Modelland by Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks, people. Another effing inspirational YA book to egg you along your journey as  writer. All you need to do is be famous in some other way first. Super model to literary author. What's your path? To tell the truth, despite how ridiculously breezy she makes it all look--she even drives and writes her novel at the same time--I still kind of like her. I don't know why. Call me crazy.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rahlly We Do

News soon about this crazy proposal.  In the meantime, here's one from the Kenyon Review:
Thank you for submitting your story. We regret that we are unable to use "Title." Your work has received careful consideration, which sometimes means a response less prompt than we would wish. Unfortunately, the large number of submissions prevents us from commenting on many worthy manuscripts. We do appreciate your interest in The Kenyon Review. --The Editors

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What's It All About?

Says the witty submitter of this rejection, "I am a forty-something in a twenty-something world."
Thank you for your recent query regarding representation. Having considered this, we've concluded that LMQ is not going to be the right fit for your project, but of course wish you all the best with it. Sincerely, LMQ [for Jason Anthony]

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New York City Rejection Line

In case you don't want to do it yourself, some good creative New Yorkers will do it for you.  Check it out by playing this mp3. Or call the line yourself: (212) 479-7990. This is what you'll hear: "Welcome to the New York City Rejection Line.  Unfortunately, the person who gave you this number does not want to talk to you or speak to you again. We would like to take this opportunity to officially reject you. If you want to hear from our comfort specialist, press 1. If you want to hear a sad poem written by a kindred spirit, press 2." Maybe there should be a literary equivalent?

p.s. No cancer...phew.

Monday, October 3, 2011


An inspiring story from the editor of Anderbo:
I started writing my first short story, "Boys Who Do the Bop" in 1976 (I was born in 1950). I finished writing it in 1982 and promptly submitted it to The New Yorker -- and it was rejected. Over the next six years I submitted it to publications large and tiny (including two re-submissions to The New Yorker) but nothing but rejections came back. I wrote no other stories, just kept sending out "Boys Who Do the Bop". Then, in the spring of 1988, the story was finally accepted -- by The New Yorker! (By this time I was 37 1/2). Rick Rofihe, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief,
He also included his new revised rejection letter, complete with handy resource links: is an all-volunteer organization. We are able to use less than 1/2 of 1% of what comes in; most submissions receive a response within 6 to 96 hours.
Effective August 1st, 2011: Due to the increasing number of submissions we are receiving, we cannot consider more than one submission from any individual in a 3-month period. Other literary sites of interest:*

Friday, September 30, 2011

An Open Proposal to Secret Agent Man

Okay, mice, I'm hoping to put this chapter on biopsies and novels behind us.
     I had another biopsy yesterday with a different method, which was awesomely, eye-stingingly painful--shockingly so. But it seems they got a robust sample of cells, and if it all goes well, I can skip the hospital deep dig version of this test. It was no picnic, it took several practitioners to excavate, but it's over now and on Monday the cancer answer will be revealed. (By the way, the mathematical odds of my having cancer are very, very slim. I mean, super slim.)
     So I'm not worried, and I'm already moving on.
     You may think this is a cavalier attitude to take, given my lack of luck in most matters lately, but look at it this way, my chance of having cancer is even slimmer than my chance of publishing a novel in this climate. So, for now, I'm putting them both away.
     You can be happy to think of me quietly working on my juicy cultural memoir Daddy Dearest. (Just kidding, that's not the title.) My book is more of an attempt to figure out how disinheritance became my fate, a surprise delivered via a secret will.  (Who does that crap?) Did you know that only in this country is disinheriting a child a protected right?  The rest of the world finds it unthinkable.
     BTW, in regard to all this, I've been thinking about asking an agent friend, whom I call SECRET AGENT MAN, to represent the memoir. I'd much rather he get any money that might possibly be made on my career than any of the douches I've met over the years. Plus he's a super good guy, he knows about my blog and all my douchery, including stupid past decisions and dumb impatient ways. He represents very big memoirs, and he just started his own business.
     The question is: Will he take me on knowing what he knows about me? I would promise not to post anything he writes to me on this blog, unless he posts it himself. Maybe we could have a totally blog-worthy public relationship, communicating only via LROD, so others can see what an author/agent relationship is like.  Well, maybe that goes a step too far. But I do think this book at least stands a better chance of making some dough. It's got commercial appeal, it's got hollywood starlets, and it's

    So, what do you say, SECRET AGENT MAN? Will you take me on?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Promise for You

Having a different procedure today to get at the cells in question; hope this one works. In the meantime here's a cute little form letter from Arts & Letters for your rejection enjoyment:
Thanks for giving us the chance to read your work; unfortunately, it doesn't meet our needs at this time. However, we promise that if you keep writing, we'll keep reading. All the best, The Editors, Arts & Letters 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Update: Biopsy and Books

Thanks to all you mice for the fortifying thoughts and wishes.  I took you right with me into that gruesome procedure. Unfortch, it didn't go quite as swimmingly well as hoped, but I will find out today if indeed they got as many cells as they need to hunt down any cancer. If not, I may have to go the hospital for deeper dive. Either way, I should know the scoop by this afternoon. I have a strong feeling that everything is going to be nice and healthy in there. And if not, the good news is that I am truly one of the lucky ones to have very good insurance and access to medical experts. So, we will therefore carry on.
     As for, Agent 99, I have to say my overriding feeling is one of relief. I've been on pins and needles for a year, trying to become someone I'm not, trying to make my book something it's not, just so she'd send the blessed thing out. That was not a winning combination. I might as well have been back in my family of origin; I was never "good enough" for those freaks either. No more of that, mice. From now on, it's pretty much going to be take it or leave it. I'll wait until I have a real editor before I mess around with the book again. In the meantime, I'm going to let it hibernate for a while until I can get a clear thought going about what to do with it next re: going back to the original or keeping the version the genius rejecting agent says is muddled.
     In the meantime, I've had a kind of breakthrough with my non-fiction book. I think I'm going to get it together as a proposal and see if I can start there. It is the most commercial, marketable thing that has ever happened to me (disinheritance). Then if I get some bites, I can work backward through my unpublished opus: the novel, the collection of published fiction, the book of published essays, the other nonfiction project. (Don't you love the word "opus"? So much better than "evidence of wasting one's life.")
     So that's the scoop for now.  How about if I embed a nice little rejection in the middle of this long post, just for fun? A loyal reader sent this one from Ashley at Bateau Press, where the tag line is "Lit to float your boat."
So sorry if you received a response that told you your work was out of our scope. Ugh! New system quirks: we didn't realize it was sending that email out to everyone. Just disregard it. thanks! ashley
We all make mistakes, ashley. We all really do. Peace out, for now.
UPDATE: They didn't get the cells. More medical barbarism is needed. Unlucky in literature and diagnostics this month. Not sorry to see September go.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Agent 99 Bites

People, people, people: You are going to hate this almost as much as I do. First, I ask you to recall that it's been a year of my working with said Agent 99 from the large fancy literary agency. Back and forth we went with changes and revisions and her idea about how to "fix" my novel. Together here at LROD we have discussed the merits of working on edits with an agent, of compromising one's art, but we have seen nothing like this so far. Are you ready for it? I am going to leave the picking apart of this amazing rejection to beat all rejections to you and your witty, wonderful ways.  You may also feel free to berate me about being naive enough to believe I was finally on my way; all I had to do was fix "a little structural problem" without "muddling" everything up, and that would be that. Have at it! I am taking to my bed today. As for our recent discussions about whether or not it is a good idea to respond to rejection letters, I thought of writing the following: Dear Agent 99: I'm not sure what's worse this week, the fact that after stringing me along for an entire calendar year, you are now rejecting me because my novel now seems muddled and always seemed to dark, or the fact that I have to face a painful biopsy for some suspected cancer.  You really stink.  Best, W,R. Of course, I will let my silence speak instead. Sadly, friends, the part about suspected cancer is true. I'm sure it's going to turn out perfectly fine and not be anything malignant, but then again, for a cynic, I am eternally optimistic.  I have a biopsy tomorrow, so may not get online to post until next week. Send some good thoughts my way if you are able. can be a kick in the teeth, right? What a week!

Here's what Agent 99 had to say:

Dear _________:   
     This is a difficult email for me to write, but after a lot of time and careful reads from me and a few trusted colleagues here, I’m afraid I’m going to have to walk away from [slightly incorrect Title of Book...really? You couldn't get it right?]. I really do admire you personally and as a writer, and I’m sorry it took so long for me to make this decision, but I don’t think we’re seeing eye-to-eye editorially in the way I would like. 
     I think you’re such a talented writer, and I love your style and your unique sense of prose and voice. That said, ultimately the book still isn’t working in the way I would need it to in order be its very best advocate. I have too many hesitations remaining, and indeed, even though we decided it was best to tie the two parts together (which I do think is crucial to the book) I’m still not seeing the execution I would like.
      The redraft has also confused the original intent of the book and muddled some of the elements I loved earlier on. In this incarnation, it seems so obvious to me that [name of character] is the culprit, and the adding in of [detail] and the [different detail] from the start creates so many plot lines, so many characters to focus on, that I lost [main character's name] a bit. I also still find the darkness of the book overbearing, an issue I’ve had throughout the times I’ve read, and worry that you haven’t found a way to alleviate this. 
     It’s very unusual that I take someone on editorially unless I truly believe in them, and I do believe in you, absolutely. But I also think we’ve come to an impasse. I only hope that giving you my time and advice on the manuscript has helped you in your journey a bit, and I’m sorry to say that my love for the book is not enough to take it forward. You and this novel deserve the passionate representation that I can’t provide, and so I think I should step aside before we go any further. I’m certain that I’ll see your name on shelves someday, and I’ll be cheering from the sidelines. 
     Agent 99
p.s. As you can see, she's really not "mine". Yours is just a nice thing people say at the end of a terrible letter. Oh well. Fuck it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Preclude"...A Good Penn State Word

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read your work. We have decided it does not suit our current needs. We wish you luck in placing it elsewhere, and we regret that the large volume of submissions we receive precludes a more personal reply. Editors, Lake Effect

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to Succeed in Rejection

If they use the title twice in a rejection note it seems more like they did indeed read it closely and give it careful consideration. That is, if you fall for that kind of thing.
Thank you for sending your work to Narrative. We are always grateful for the opportunity to review new material, and we have given "Title" close reading and careful consideration. We found many strengths to recommend your work and, overall, much to admire. We regret, however, that "Title" is not quite right for us. We encourage you try us again in the future, and we hope that you will. Sincerely, The Editors  
BACKSTAGE | NARRATIVE PRIZE | ABOUT US | A Nonprofit Publication of Narrative Press

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Agent Writes In...But Not My Agent

A good-humored agent sent me the following correspondence, which consists of the agent's rejection, followed by a rather snarky response from a rejected writer (not me, friends).  A little advice to you all, keep your snarkiness here at LROD, rather than pointing it out at the agents of the world. It is a teeny-tiny world out there. We should aim to keep a little Just a bit of unsolicited advice.  Here are the samples:
AGENT'S REJECTION: Dear ______: 
Thanks for the query but I'm not the right agent for you.  I found your writing style a little too stiff for me to feel I could find you the right publisher.  But I wish you much luck connecting with someone who doesn't share my reservations. Signed, Secret Agent

REJECTED WRITER'S RESPONSE:Thanks for your considered reply. 
I would have preferred a plain, flat rejection (your first sentence would have been sufficient).  Your added effort to say “ a little too stiff” without any further explanation leaves me with more questions than the answer/s of a simple rejection. 

[BTW, If there are other agents out there who would like to send in similar case studies anonymously demonstrating how not to respond to rejection...or better yet, how to respond to rejection, we welcome you warmly. Keep the examples coming.]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Isn't The 9th Letter "I"?

Dear Writer: Thanks for submitting your work to Ninth Letter. We're sorry this submission wasn't right for us. We appreciate your interest in our magazine, and wish you the best of luck placing your work elsewhere. Sincerely, The Editors, Ninth Letter

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dear Occupant...

What are the chances of getting accepted at One Story? Must be truly slim, no? Does anyone read One Story? it is supposed to address our ever-shrinking attention spans and be something you can read while on the New York City, I guess.
Dear Writer: We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, but unfortunately this submission was not a right fit for One Story. Thank you for trying us. Sincerely, The Editors of One Story

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dear Loser...

Someone found this on Flickr and sent it in. It says: Dear Loser, Thank you for sending your demo materials to Sub Pop for consideration. Presently, your demo package is one of a massive quantity of commendable material we receive every day at Sub Pop World Headquarters, and is (due to time and volume restrictions) on it's way through the great lower intestines that is the talent-acquisition process*.  We appreciate your interest in Sub Pop and wish you the best in your pursuit.  Kind regards, * This is a form letter. The letter is what is known as "a rejection letter."