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Saturday, October 27, 2012

And Then We Came To The End

Okay, truth out. I didn't really give up writing; it was (yet again) an idle threat. In fact, I reworked my novel and came up with a new structure for my memoir. So, worry not, mice: I will go on (cue disco music). I will publish these suckers if it kills me, and it probably will. Keep your eye out on this blog. I will send up a flare and let you know when my manuscripts get published.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pep Talk From an LROD Reader*

You shouldn't quit, or even think about it. I get twenty rejections a day. It doesn't mean anything. I write for everyone, and publish more than anyone in this country (quite literally). Also: you don't need an agent. They're the worst. I fire them routinely, when I beat them at their own job and they come in wanting some money for work they never did. (An agent has never gotten me anything--not the NY'er, the Atlantic, ESPN, 150 other places, book deals, nothing). Your book about being disowned (which prompted me to send something to the Love column thing, which was rejected) is a good idea. You can make a go of it. Pitch it up. Write a chapter or two. Share the link to the NYT thing (or just make that into a chapter; would probably take you fifteen minutes). And go straight to editors. Bosses of houses. Why not? Don't fall for what agents say. You can't approach this person, you can't approach that person. That's bollocks, so that they can maintain their parasitic existence. Go right to the EICs and head editors. You'd be surprised at the reaction. Pitch. Pitch pitch pitch. That's a good idea for a book. Really good. I am sure you could get an indie to go for it, and wouldn't be surprised if you got a major to bite, albeit, maybe, with a small advance. But good returns on the book could well lead to a bigger advance for another. Don't give up. Fuck these people. And then fuck the fuck out of them. They're frauds. They don't matter. Not in the long term, and less in the short term than anyone tends to think.
Thoughts?  Is this sage advice?  Let's hear from some industry people and editors out there: What do you think when you get a pitch from an author without an agent?  Does it mean the same thing as it used to? Is it more acceptable these days than it used to be?

*I tried to quit this blog, but now everyone's showing up with important things to share. That's okay. I can ease my way into blog retirement.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

New Yorker Rejection Return

I'm not really coming out of retirement, but an LROD reader sent me this rejection, which is personalized and from the New Yorker!  I had to post it. Okay, that's all.  (I'm like Cher with the false retirement announcements, right?) Peace out again:
Dear [Writer's First Name]: We regret that we are unable to use the enclosed material. Many of your images, however, are quite beautiful. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider it. Sincerely, The Editors

Monday, September 24, 2012


My Dearest Mice:
     Five years is a long time to go on sheer rejection; we've had a fun time. We've battled nay-sayers, trolls, and literary journal editors. We've talked back to agents and editors and publishers. We had a go at some writers.  Someone even included us in his novel!  They all came around, wanting to be part of this weird blog that got bigger than I ever thought possible.
     Luckily or unluckily, my luck hasn't changed over the past 5 years. I am still mostly getting rejected. To wit, just a few days ago my agent wrote back to say he didn't think the new point-of-view in my novel was working at all. Long and short, on first read, he didn't really like the novel.  That leaves me exactly where?  I'm not sure. But I'm glad I get to share this final rejection with you today.
     And do you know why? Do you know what today is, micycles?
     Today is the last day of Literary Rejections On Display (LROD).
     I'm packing it in for now. I think it is high time to start pursuing a career that leads to acceptance and love, not rejection and snarkiness. Does that mean I will stop being a writer?  Who can say?  I will try to stop being a writer, but it probably won't stick.  I have tried to stop being a writer in the past many times. It is a kind of scare tactic I use on myself when I'm sick of myself, if you know what I mean. But maybe this time it's for real.
   Of course LROD will stay up. You can search the archives in a number of different ways, and if you ever find yourself googling "literary rejection" you will no doubt end up here. I have loved and hated you and this blog and my own rejections, which ultimately led to your rejections getting posted. These days, plenty of writers and bloggers post their own rejections on their own blogs, and I hope the secret shame of getting rejection has been lightened a little by the work we have done together here.
     I do promise and vow to you, though, that if anything significant of mine ever gets published (say, my novel, short-story collection, book of essays, or non-fiction book), I will post the cover here and reveal my true identity, not that it will really matter, but many of you have asked. Until then, know that I am doing my thing elsewhere...whatever and wherever that may be.
     Until then, be nice to one another. There are enough asses in the world already.
     I wish you all the best in everything.
     Peace out, for now.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

What Does Keep AGNI Fresh?

From: "AGNI" Date: September 4, 2012 Subject: Your submission to AGNI 

Dear Writer's Name: Thank you for sending "Title of Story." Your work received careful consideration here. We've decided this manuscript isn't right for us, but we wish you luck placing it elsewhere. 

Kind regards, The Editors 

P.S. Without submissions like yours, we'd lose the sense of discovery that keeps AGNI fresh. Please click here for a discounted subscription rate offered as a thank-you to our submitters:

Friday, September 14, 2012

From Horrible to Hopeful

I have been in ye old hospital with a family member all week via ye old emergency room. But since I've been away from LROD all week, a few interesting items have popped up. First: my agent doesn't like my novel.  (Horrible, I know.) Nothing to say.  I love him and I appreciate his honesty.  I also love my novel.  So where does that put me? Second: I am really hoping he likes the new book proposal and chapters of my nonfiction book. (Hopeful.) I will keep you ever posted.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Oh, MIssouri, Race Always Matters, Don't You Know

Wrote the editor/intern answering the mail and reading the slush:
Hello: Your story was interesting, but I felt that you focused too much on Gretchen being white--she's awful certainly, but I don't see why race matters there.  That being said, I loved her focus on voids and how you ended it.  Please try us again soon with another piece.
 Is it left unstated that the writer shouldn't get all mad at white people?  Or if the person is awful it should not be an indication of her white-ness?  Not sure.  But interesting.  I'm betting this was a young intern who wrote this note.  Anyway, check out the author's in-depth reply to this rejection over at his blog. It's worth the read. Very interesting.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

From an LROD Reader

On Jan. 4, 2012, I submitted a short story to Boulevard. More than seven months later on Aug. 18, 2012, I received the following e-mail. I clicked the provided link and received the message "Status: Declined." The word Declined was emphatically (and one must assume lovingly) printed in red typeface.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
NOTE: Do not reply to this email. This address is used for notifications only. If you need help, contact Submittable Support:xxxxxxxx
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The status of this submission has changed.

You can go here to view the submission:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It's a Little Too Hot and Sunny Today

I think this is a pretty decent rejection.  Nice sentiment in the third paragraph: "We're aware writing is hard work, and that writers deserve some acknowledgment. A form letter doesn't speak to that need. Please Know, however, that we've read your work and appreciate your interest in the magazine."  Is this form letter better than most, or have I lost my edge? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Watch the WHR Birdie

Well, at least it's a distraction from your rejection from all of Western Humanity.  Here's a closer look at the bird:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Conjunctions, Close Up The Gap!

Why such a large space in the middle of your form rejection?  Maybe you want to write something nice to the writer who received this in the mail?  Maybe you don't.  You know about conjunctions and run-ons, right? At least put a smilie or frownie in there, man.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Rarity for Writer, Rejected

Here's something unusual. I have just finished the new proposal for my nonfiction book (with three sample chapters). Also I have recently finished a revised version (with a new point of view) of my novel.  That's two projects nearly ready to go out in the world.  Twins!  I have given birth to twins, and it was a long, long labor. Right now, I have some people reading both manuscripts, and then I'm going to send them (bombard?) Secret Agent Man with them.  It's August, a good time for him to read pages upon pages. Maybe this fall things will be different for old Writer, Rejected. Wouldn't that be nice? Well, anyway, a third-gendered person can dream, can't sh/h/ze?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We Do Not Recommend Your Work

Hey, wait a minute; there's no such thing as a fifth Wednesday. Maybe we don't recommend your journal, even if you do think we benefit from buying copies of it:
Dear Writer: Thank you for sending your work to Fifth Wednesday Journal. We have completed our review, and our readers and editors do not recommend your work for publication in the Fall 2012 issue. Please visit for information on future submission periods. Fifth Wednesday Journal editors recognize the cost of literary magazines can be prohibitive for many writers. Nevertheless, we believe that writers benefit from reading a literary magazine on a regular basis. Our offer: Send a copy of this e-mail together with a payment of $6.00 and we will send you one copy of the issue of your choice; send a payment of $15.00 and we will send you a three (3) issue subscription starting with the most recent issue released. Unfortunately, for international orders we must add postage: $6.00 for one copy and $15.00 for subscriptions. Offer expires October 1, 2012. Send a copy of this e-mail, shipping address, issue choice, and payment to: Fifth Wednesday Books, Inc. P.O. Box 4033, Lisle, IL 60532-9033 Thank you again for the opportunity to read your work. If you wish to receive our newsletters go to the website and click on the Join Our Mailing List icon. Editors at Fifth Wednesday Journal

Monday, July 30, 2012

Public Space, Private Rejection

Dear Writer McWriterson: Thank you for your patience while we read your submission. We appreciated the chance to consider "Title of Work," but unfortunately we must pass. Best of luck placing this work elsewhere. To learn more about goings-on at A Public Space, please visit your local bookstore to find our latest issue, visit us online at or join us on Twitter @apublicspace. With very best wishes, A Public Space

Thursday, July 26, 2012

MmmHmmm, Atticus Books, MmmHmmm

They want your rejections, but I was here first.

Short(er) Daughters of American Fiction

Subject: The American Short(er) Fiction Prize
Dear Writer McWriter:
You and your fellow contest entrants stunned and delighted us with your stories. We received close to 1,000 entries this year for the American Short(er) Fiction Prize, and we learned again and again that the short form is incredibly versatile and powerful. Thanks for sharing your work with us and showing us what flash fiction can do. We're sorry to report that your work did not place as a finalist. We wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere.
The Editors of American Short Fiction

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Girls Club by Sally Bellerose

Today, Sally Bellerose, award-winning author of  The Girls Club, amuses and amazes with stories of rejection and her ultimate victory. (I would have asked more questions, but I was afraid after the first question.) I've read this book, and it is very good. I highly recommend it.

What is your worst rejection story?
So many to choose from. It took 20 years to get The Girls Club published. I had lots of short stories and essays and poetry published in that time. Pieces of the novel were published and won prizes, including an NEA. I’d put the novel down for years at a time, then pick it back up. The manuscript went through two agents; many presses were interested, but then declined to publish.
     So, I could go with the fact that five years ago Alyson Books, a well known decades-old publisher accepted the novel, sent a great contract, and promptly went out of business. Or I could go with the agent who pursued me, promising me the moon and a lucrative book deal, only to keep my manuscript for over a year, rarely answering phone calls or emails, before finally informing me that she had “made a mistake and was not the right agent for the book.”
     Like my defunct Alyson Books contract, my worst rejection story started out as an acceptance story. Thirteen years ago an excerpt from the novel won a prize and was published ("The GirlsClub - Chapter One," in Quarterly West, edited by Margot Schilpp, University of Utah Press, 1999.) I won First Place in Best of Writers at Work.
     Writers at Work is a writer’s conference, held at the time in Park City, Utah. The prize included $1,500, publicity, free admittance to morning workshops, meeting with an editor, and a featured reading at the conference at The Yarrow Hotel, where the conference was being held.
      I arrived at the airport in Utah, where I was supposed to be greeted by a conference worker carrying a sign with my name, who was driven from the airport to the conference. This service was part of the prize. No one picked me up. No one answered the phone when I called the conference.
     I figured this was merely a bit of incompetence, much like the fact that my local newspaper never received the information from Writer’s at Work so it could run the story about how I had won the prize. I thought the fact that an organizer called me after midnight to ask for my tax information could maybe somehow be chalked up to a difference in time zones.
     When I got to the conference my name, as winner, was on the marquee outside of the hotel. This gave me a moment’s relief. But minutes later, at the registration table, the volunteers rifled through the participant packets and could find nothing with my name on it. I told them I had won First Prize in Fiction. I assured them I had been in contact with the conference organizers who knew I was coming.
     “Look,” I said, “My name is on the sign.”
     The young volunteers said they would put together a packet and I should return in an hour. I went to my room. An hour later I got my packet and found two organizers, smiling women who said, “Sorry,” and invited me to meet them for dinner, in the lobby, at 7 pm. I had been promised I would receive my $1,500 prize immediately upon arrival. I asked for the money and was told they would have a check for me when we went to diner later that evening. At 7 pm, I went to the lobby and the man behind the desk told me that the folks from Writer’s at Work had gathered and left for dinner at 6pm.
     I was beginning to think this was more than incompetence.
     These people didn’t like me. But why did they choose my work?
     Apparently the organizers of the conference and the panel of judges were two discreet sets of people and not of the same opinion regarding the quality and especially the content of my work. Dagoberto Gilb was the final judge. Gilb’s stories have appeared in The New Yorker and Harpers. (By the way, I recommend his work. He writes about many things including working class Chicano American life and culture.) At the time of this conference his most recently released book, The Magic of Blood, was on the Arizona banned book list. I have no idea why the organizers chose Gilb, not only as judge but keynote speaker.
     I was in the lobby when he arrived at the conference. He went to the registration table, a loud argument ensued. Gilb left the lobby appearing very angry.
     Later that evening, during what should have been his keynote address, it was announced, by a smiling woman, that Gilb would not be attending the conference. Another speaker, whose name and topic are not in my memory bank, spoke to the crowd.
     I am a lesbian. By this time I had finally come to the conclusion that the organizers were homophobes. I stayed. I won’t speculate what prompted Gilb to part ways with Writers at Work. As the days went on it became clear that not only my sexuality, but the themes of my novel excerpt which portrayed a working class, ill, lesbian and mother, were an affront to my hosts.
     During one “Meet and Greet” event I stood in line with the Nonfiction and Poetry winners. An organizer introduced and praised the work of the other two winners and either did not introduce me at all, or said my name without mentioning my work. Still, she smiled. She kept smiling when I again asked for my $1,500 and said, “We didn’t know you needed the money so badly.” I reminded her that I had won the money and had been promised I would receive it as soon as I arrived at the conference.
     Fortunately, Susan a friend and writing comrade of many years attended the conference. She was there to witness the snubbing, or I may have thought I was imagining it, or exaggerating events.
     What happened at the dinner in honor of the Writers at Work Winning Authors was definitely not imagined. There were several large tables, one winner from each genre seated at each table with organizers and attendees. The winners were allowed to invite a friend. Susan and I got there early. As the organizers arrived they said not a word to me or Susan and sat chatting at the other two tables.
     When a couple of late-comers arrived the only seats left were at our table. They looked around, but they were stuck with us or the floor. They could have taken chairs from our table, as a couple of others had, and squeezed in with the Poetry or Non-fiction winners, but they took a seat at our table instead. It was an awkward dinner, saved by Susan’s gracious southern upbringing.
     At the meeting to discuss my manuscript with Carol Houck Smith, book editor at W.W. Norton, there was no fake smiling. Houck Smith (may she rest in peace) got right to the point. She told me I was “very talented.” She said she personally had no trouble with the content of the book, but if I thought I was going to be the one to overcome the “shit-barrier”— yes, she used that exact term to refer to the illness the protagonist in the story referred to as “the dreaded bowel disease” in the novel—while also taking on sexuality and class, I was sorely mistaken. She said I was an unknown and this was not a subject that would “fly” in a first book.
     After this encounter I sought out an organizer and demanded my money.
     Then came my featured reading. I would have thought myself brave for reading at all, but I followed Dorothy Allred Solomon who read from her memoir, In My Father’s House, which depicted her life in as a child in her father’s iron-fisted polygamous Mormon household. Solomon, reading to an audience assembled by these organizers, in a largely Mormon area, was a poster child for brave. The audience loved her.
     When it was my turn to read, I was given a lukewarm and barely audible introduction. Unlike the readers who preceded me and read from a raised podium, I was asked to read without a mic at floor level. I smiled back at my introducer and climbed a couple of stairs to the podium and used the mic that was still turned on. Short of tackling me, there was nothing they could do. Well, someone could have pulled the plug, but no one did.
     Instead of the excerpt that had won the prize, I read the most graphic sex scene in the book. The crowd, as they say, went wild.The audience, the organizers, and the judges, as it turns out, were three distinct groups.
     After the reading an agent rushed me, and by rushed I mean ran up the center aisle to get to me after the reading. She raved about my work, assured me she was seriously interested, took my manuscript, and then strung me out for a very long time before deciding she didn’t want to represent the work.
     I am not sure if I left Utah wiser, or more confused, maybe a bit wary of smiling women, but my happy ending is this: My novel The Girls Club was published in September 2011 by Bywater Books.
     And is doing quite well, thank you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Rearing its Head

Ye Old MFA Debate is happening on this blog in the comments section of a recent post.  It goes like this:

Anonymous 1: "It's gotten to the point where an MFA is a license enabling one to practice. Just like dentistry or law require a license. Can only "trained" writers produce good work? In today's literary world a discriminatory mindset prevails. -- and this is wrong. But those in academia are in the driver's seat -- and they won't change a status quo that favors them. I know -- this is an old gripe, But that doesn't make it any less valid."

Anonymous 2: "No, what makes your gripe less valid is how silly it is. . . ."

Anonymous 1: "Silly? That's it? Perfect example of the attitude I'm talking about. One that reeks of a superior dismissiveness. (BTW, what MFA program did you attend?)"

Anonymous 2: "You don't offer any evidence for your argument--that's what makes it silly. Sorry if that's elitist. Now to begin: have you considered how many people with MFAs are also getting rejected? The MFA is a chance to work with established writers and to network and to teach--in no way is it a license that 'enables one to practice.' I know plenty of MFAers who send out story after story with nothing to show. Also: can only 'trained' writers produce good work? Uh, have you been reading lately? 'Good' work is among the rarest published. 'Good' work has a hard time finding a market. Publishers aren't interested in 'good.' They want something that 'sells.' Academia in the driver's seat? Tell that to the University of Missouri Press, one of the last best places for literary fiction. Their funding has been yanked. Also: Have you considered that in order to get a job in academia, today's writers must first have published with major publishers? Lastly: you're going to dismiss Jacob Appel and his work because of his degree? That is ridiculous. Go back through this blog and read the posts where Jacob is mentioned. He has had to work and work and work. It's insulting that you would try to diminish him in any way by suggesting that he hasn't earned his success. Now, you may not like my attitude but, upon examination, yours is quite a bit worse. A real writer wouldn't begrudge anyone else his/her success, because a real writer understands how difficult it is to write. In an MFA program or not."

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lamest Phone-Call Rejection Ever

Seriously, person at small press? Seriously?! You who are an Associate Publisher--Really?!  
     You have me call you to get my rejection because you're too chaotically busy to write it down and send it?  How about just, "Thanks. It wasn't what we were looking for."  But instead you tell me you have notes to pass along from an editor who has departed and "another staffer."
     So I call in for my rejection, but you start rambling about Augusten Burroughs and how his memoirs work, which is confusing because you didn't read my memoir. I am writing my memoir in fact. So I just keep listening to see where this is going, and you tell me, you probably should have someone's notes in front of you because you didn't really read much of my manuscript, but you are just insanely busy, so you're working from your memory about what was wrong with the manuscript you keep referring to as my memoir.
     Finally, I can't take it anymore, so I interrupt:  "Um," says I. "You asked to read my collection of published essays based on an essay that appeared in the New York Times, not my memoir. You didn't ask for my memoir. But what you read was a collection of published essays."
     And what do you say? You say: "Oh."
     Then there is an awkward silence in which I ought to have let you merely tread water, but I was too embarrassed and somehow co-dependent.  Embarrassed for me and you and publishing in general.
     So, I launch into some long rambling something (what the hell was I saying?) that ends with, "Who would really publish a book of published essays by someone who isn't famous anyway?" and "But really you are publishing some very nice works, and thanks for the consideration." (As my friend says, Aw, no, you made her feel better?)
     I did. And I shouldn't have.  But what, really, should I have said?
     I'm thinking of two not very nice words, but you guys can probably come up with something more creative.

     What would you have said?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Call Me For Your Verbal Rejection

Remember a while back when a small press asked to read my collection of published essays? Well, I got this unprecedented response: With (name of editor's) departure, it's been especially chaotic, "but I do have her feedback, another staffers and my own to share. I am so swamped that it would honestly be easier to tell you than write it all. If you can call tomorrow afternoon, that would be a good time for me."

I dread it of course, but what can I do? Tell her to buck up and write my rejection like everyone else does? No. I will call her and be gracious and thank her for her time. After all, it's not every day that you get a phone rejection from a still-independent small press.

Monday, July 9, 2012

No Nelligan for you

Above is the photo banner for the 2012 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. Who is she? Who is on the phone? Why does she look so blank? Weird, no?  Anyway, below is the standard rejection for the prize sent in by an LROD reader:
Thank you for entering the 2012 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction. As always, the selection of a winner was a difficult process as there were so many excellent stories, but we are pleased to announce that final judge Jane Hamilton has selected Matthew Shaer's "Ghosts" as this year’s winner. This story will appear in the fall/winter 2012 issue of Colorado Review, to be published in late November.

Again, thank you for entering. I hope you will consider us again for next year’s competition.

With kindest regards,
Stephanie G'Schwind
Editor, Colorado Review

Friday, July 6, 2012

Control Your Wrath, O Rejected One

The weather turned nasty out there, hurricane like last week. Maybe they shouldn't have rejected you so glibly:
Thank you for sending us your manuscript to the Antioch Review. The return of your work does not necessarily imply criticism of its merit, but may simply mean that it does not meet our present editorial needs. We regret that circumstances do not allow individual comment. The Editors

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Geniuses versus Mediocrities: Who Wins?

In this single historical rejection, we have the problem of publishing summed up very nicely:
Catch – 22 by Joseph Heller: "I haven’t really the foggiest idea about what the man is trying to say… Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level … From your long publishing experience you will know that it is less disastrous to turn down a work of genius than to turn down talented mediocrities."
(The clue phone rings for you.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

This Just In From Your Friend and Mine

Dear Writers, Rejected:

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

 Jacob M. Appel

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Folded in Half and Shoved in SASE

A little flippant? Or simply to-the-point? It's hard to say. I can't tell if it's cute or irritating. Both, I guess. Certainly, the sign off is a bit much, but what do I know. People have their own style. "Pax!" What's the Latin word for "Give me a break, Dude."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Words to Live By

"...don’t get bitter about rejections, ever. Transform whatever bad feelings you might have into useful feelings; you should never feel ashamed about a rejection."--Sheila Heti (author of How Should A Person Be?)
A-novel-a-year novelist Sheila Heti offers the above advice here, which is sound.  She has the kind of career I always wanted to have, but alas, I'm more the book-every-decade-or-longer type of writer. Oh well, hope in the end it's worth all the time it takes.  She also has a super cute hair do.  Just saying.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Flat Out Familiar

I went to Amazon today to check on a book I ordered and this was the message from Amazon's CEO was waiting for me on my home page:
Dear Customers, 
 "Did I cry over some of these rejections? Absolutely. Did I feel inadequate, untalented, hurt? Yes. Did I doubt my ability to craft a story that readers could fall in love with? You bet."
That's Jessica Park, who hit road block after road block trying to get her book Flat-Out Love in front of readers. You can read her incredible blog post on IndieReader (also picked up by HuffPo) detailing her perseverance and how she finally succeeded by doing it herself with Kindle Direct Publishing. It's heartwarming and tells a powerful story about what KDP makes possible.
Hmm....congratulations to her, right?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Puritanical Rejection

As few words as possible, pilgrim; it's cold in these parts:
Dear Writer: Though your work has been declined by our editors, we thank you for allowing us to consider it. Sincerely, The Editors of The Massachusetts Review

Monday, June 11, 2012

Why Is Waiting Always the Answer?

My spouse and the friend who edited my book of short stories years ago convinced me not to let my agent read the novel yet. The argument: "You are so close to nailing this thing, why waste a non-perfect read on him." I am eager to get this ball rolling (after 15 years of false rolls), but I took the manuscript back and asked Secret Agent Man to hold up on reading. I figure, these are my peeps, closest to my work, but with more perspective than I have, so I'm going with their advice.  It's always a hard question: when to give a manuscript out to read and when to hold it back? I am impatient and always send stuff out too early.  Not this time, though. I'm not going to let myself get in the way. In good news, though, three readers (including spouse and friend/editor) have started reading the new first-person version and they think it's just what the novel needed. Phew!  That's my news for today.  What's happening with you mice?  Any advice about timing and when to send something out?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Social Media, Social Media, Social Media

But will it save you from literary rejection? This article at Business2Community has some words on the matter and a very tenuous (IMHO) association.  But check it out anyway and then forget it, but have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy Anniversary LROD

Two days ago was my 1,500th post and tomorrow is the 5-year anniversary of this blog. Perhaps it's a good time to take a moment and review.
  • For those of you who don't know, I started this blog by posting a backlog of my very own rejections and went for a good long time until I ran out.
  • Then I posted some rejections that came along in real-time.
  • Then you all started sending me your rejections which has been interesting.
  • Then we started a bunch of conversations about the state of publishing which has declined greatly these past 5 years.
  • During this time I have published a bunch of things, but not another book, which is disappointing. I have also revised my novel many times and had a few agents interested who ultimately walked away.
  • My family has gone crazy over my public writing about being disinherited and about them in essence.
  • A bunch of publishers got excited about the disinheritance book proposal, but ultimately walked away.
  • A small press is potentially interested in a book of my published essays, but they have not gotten back to me with an answer, and plus my family will FREAK out if it gets published, so there's that.
  • I finally put my family way on the outside of my life.  In fact, they can go for a flying fuck if they would like to; I'm done.
  • Just last month I took my "third-person omniscient" point of view and turned it into first-person weird" point of view which has revolutionized the novel, now so many years in the making it's embarrassing to give it a number in public.  (Related to the above bullet? probably) 
  • Will the novel get published now?  I don't know.  Secret Agent Man is giving it a read (new to him), as are a few other trusted readers.  So cross your fingers for me, peeps.
Oh, and happy anniversary to you too. You mice make this blog worth writing and reading.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Thank You Very Much!

Dear Writer: I am very sorry to inform you that our judge did not select your story for this year’s fiction award at Washington Square. I do, however, want to thank you very much for submitting, and hope you will think of us in the future. Best, Lizzie Harris Washington Square Awards Editor

Monday, June 4, 2012

Read the Winner, Loser; Subscription is Free

Is the subscription really free or did you have to pay money to enter the contest? Just wondering; I've done it a million times myself:
Thank you for submitting "Title of your Work" to The Willow Springs Fiction Prize. Unfortunately, your story was not selected as this year's winner. We do hope you enjoy the chosen story, which will be featured in Willow Springs issue 70. As a contest entrant, your subscription to the magazine will begin with this issue. We wish you the best of luck in placing your story elsewhere. Sincerely, The Editors, Willow Springs

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sense of Discovery

Dear [Writer's Name]: Thank you for sending "Title of Story." Your work received careful consideration here. We've decided this manuscript isn't right for us, but we wish you luck placing it elsewhere. Kind regards, The Editors P.S. Without submissions like yours, we'd lose the sense of discovery that keeps AGNI fresh. Please click here for a discounted subscription rate offered as a thank-you to our submitters.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Place It Elsewhere (Not in North America), Bub

Dear Mister Writer: Thanks for sending us your submission entitled "Title." We receive a large number of submissions but can only publish one in a hundred. Since our space is limited, we must often pass on well-crafted writing. We wish you the best of luck in placing your work. The Editors North American Review

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Best Colleges Has Literary Rejections

Here's an article called 20 Famous Rejection Letters We Can All Learn From, including a few letters that we've displayed and discussed here at LROD, including rejections of work by Gertrude Stein, Kurt Vonnegut, George Orwell, and others.  See the label famous for more well-known rejections.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Broken Piano For President by Patrick Wensink

When did you start writing you novel? Six years ago.
How long did it take to finish the first draft? One month.
How many revisions did you write? At least 25.
Who read your drafts? Not many people. A friend of a friend who was a published author gave some brief encouragement, but mostly I went with my gut.
Did you use an agent to sell it? If not, why not? I did at first. She was horrible. I met her at one of those weird writer's conventions that seem to always be held at airport Sheratons. I've had more success being my own agent, frankly.
How long did it take to find a publisher? I found my publisher, Lazy Fascist Press, about three years ago, but it took another three for my editor to consider Broken Piano for President ready for publication.
What is your worst rejection story? The above mentioned agent sent my manuscript to Viking. The editor there called Broken Piano for President "Nauseating."
What is your best rejection story? The same. I am still tickled by that story. Nausea is an incredibly strong reaction to reading something. I'd have preferred the editor loved the book, but I'll take nausea over ambivalence any day.
Where were you when you received the offer for the book to be published? In my basement office, alone. Which was fitting, because that's how all the hard work of writing was done, alone.
Who was the first person you told about the book deal? My wife. She is very level-headed and greeted it with the same enthusiasm she uses when I announce we're having spaghetti for dinner. She's good at keeping me grounded.
Has your philosophy on getting published changed? It's hard and demoralizing. But after the first 50 rejections, you get a kind of dementia about it all. Rejection is just business. There is, sadly, very little artistic whimsy in publishing.
What words of advice would you give to a writer on the journey toward publication? Do a lot of research and work on your own because nobody else is going to be your champion. Unless your last name is Safron-Foer or something. Then, it's probably a lot easier.

For more information about the author, go discover all things Wentastic!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Nauseated Penguins

Here's one for the books. An LROD reader sent in this rejection in which the editor found the actions of character "almost too outrageous, and sometimes even nauseating. For this reason, I cannot see this as a Viking title and so I will pass."  Click on the rejection to make it bigger for easier reading.  In the meantime, all best and alas and cheers.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Before E, People....I Before E

There are a lot of links in this rejection:

Thank you for the opportunity to consider your work, but we are sorry to inform you that your manuscript was not selected as a finalist for the prize. As you know, we read a great number of quality submissions, and we hope you understand that we can only nominate a small fraction of those writers.

With your contest submission, you should have by now received a copy of our Spring 2012 issue of Arts & Letters, as well as the link to download the new issue of our digital ePub, Arts & Letter Prime. Just in case, here is the link for Prime 1.2: And if you have not recieved [sic] Issue 26, please email us ( and let us know.

Your submission also gives you access to PRIME 2.1, coming in the fall, which you will be able to download here: And next spring, you will receive Arts & Letters Issue 27, featuring the prize winning work from this contest, as well as access to the updated edition of PRIME 2.2. (Same download link as PRIME 2.1.)

Thank you again, and good luck with your writing.

The Editors
Arts & Letters