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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nailin' Words on a Page

Rejection received from an LROD mouse and sent to us:
Dear Contributor,
We regret to say that your recent submission doesn't meet our needs at the moment. Thank you, though, for thinking of us, and for pursuing the difficult art of putting words to paper. We hope you continue to consider us in the future. 
With best wishes, 
(sorely unsigned) 
Jonathan FreedmanKeith Taylor

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Something Nice

So a friend wrote to say that his small-press editor was looking for literary writers and he sent her a link to my essay and she said she'd like to know what books I have.  So I got in touch and gave her the annotated run-down of every manuscript nary to be sold, and, you know what, micyles on bicycles? She and her editorial partner asked to read my book of essays. (Knock me over with a feather, you may.)
     Actually, I couldn't be happier; it was a book I thought might never see the light of day!  
     But yes, yes, yes, yes, of course I remember every other heart-breaking close call over lo these many years! I know it ain't a book until the fat lady (or skinny one, as the case may be) Dewey-Decimals it at the public library.
     I have learned that much.
     I'm not holding my breath, but I must admit the whole thing has lightened my dark day. Imagine being asked to submit something literary to a living, breathing small press that produces pretty books!
     Also, I must admit I have been struggling with the size of writing an entire memoir, and now I can focus for a while on writing a final essay for the collection which expands on the topic of being dissed. Right now that just seems more possible. Hopeful, yes?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just Because It's Monday

I like to throw an acceptance in once in a while to keep you on your toes. It is not my acceptance, but belongs to a nice mouse who has sent in a few rejections in the past. So congratulations to you, Mouse!

From: <>
Date: March 14, 2012 1:54:13 PM PDT
To: "Mouse"
Subject: RE: Fiction Submission - "Title" - Anony Mouse 
RED OCHRE PRESS would like to publish "Title" in one of our upcoming, print issues. As of yet, we have not determined which issue your poem would best complement. We will contact you soon with a concrete publication date. Congratulations! RED OCHRE PRESS

Friday, March 23, 2012

Unakkommodated in Amerika

Dear Author, Unfortunately, we are unable to find a place for the work you submitted to Hotel Amerika. Although we're not accepting your submission, we're honored to have received it and hope you try us again soon. Yours, The Editors

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Now Why Didn't I Think of That

Someone sent 11 pounds of marijuana to fictitious publishing employee, Karen Wright, or how to get published at St. Martin's Press? Check it out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Bear Will Not Use You

This scrawl was sent back on the bottom of a submission letter to The Bear Deluxe (an independent environmental magazine) and sent in by a loyal Mouse who has been getting the work out there. It says:  "Thanks for thinking of us but we are unable to use your work." Couldn't they have composted it?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Back At It

Working on the first chapter of the book and sprucing up the book proposal for the next round. Turns out to be harder to sell a book on my nonfiction topic than we thought. I guess even with enthusiasm, it's a little harder to get a book off the ground these days. It is good to be writing again, though. Oh, and remember my novel, love of my life for the past decade and a half? Tome that came so, so, so close on so many occasions to being published? I had a good idea about it the other day. I thought of it so fondly, it made me nearly teary. It prompted this thought: maybe in the end it's not so much about everyone else and commercial success and books in print. Maybe it's just about me and my process and the growth of my soul. Ever think of that? (Honestly, no; I never did.) I also read recently that Michelangelo approached his sculptures by thinking that God had already made them; all he had to do was find the shape in all that marble. I kind of liked that idea.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Able Muse Attitude

There is nothing sweeter than to withdraw a work from submission because it has been chosen for publication elsewhere. It is one of the few business pleasures we writers derive from this muck. As I told the writer who submitted the below note from Able Muse, the rule on simultaneous submissions needs now become a thing of the past. Maybe that will make people read and respond a little bit quicker. Get with the times, people; no one is using that 20th Century rule any more.
From: "Able Muse Webmaster"
Date: March 19, 2012 12:31:08 AM PDT To:
Subject: RE: [Able Muse] Fiction Withdrawal - "Title" - Anony Mouse 
Dear Anonymouse,
As much as we congratulate for your acceptance, please note that our guidelines are clear that we do not welcome simultaneous submissions. If you’re also sending it somewhere else, please don’t submit it to us.
Best, …Alex

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Oh, people, people, people! Allow me please to lament. I received a few more rejections on the "this-is-going-to-be-so-easy-to-sell" non-fiction book. It seems that editors love the book proposal and enthusiastically embrace me in phone conversations, and send me presents, etc., but then their bosses say no ("Naaah," is how I imagine it. Or "Nope.") Secret Agent Man and I think this is a really big book, but perhaps my proposal doesn't adequately convey it fully. I'm going to take another swing at clarifying the proposal, and then I'm going to write the first chapter of the book that will indicate the mix of memoir and quirky history. And if that doesn't work, I am going to shut the front door, publishing industry and all, not that any of those suckers will care. (Probably not really, but that's what I'm saying for now. So, humor me if you will.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not Sure What to Think

Something original-ish from Splotch. Send in your rejection letters and they will print the best 15 in their publication, Splotch, which seems to publish artists' work form a variety of medium. The publishers write the following about their cleverly named online journal:
The term splotch represents to us, creative enlightenment; that moment of inspiration each artist experiences that surpasses his or her normal thought pattern. It is an idea that must be produced and shared with others. This idea cannot be defined, outlined, or planned, but appears sporadically and unpredictably. A splotch comes in the form of imagery for visual artists, melody for musicians, and narrative for writers. The work displayed in our website may at first appear very different, but they share the same purpose. Whether it is on the web, on a gallery wall, or on the street, we are showcasing our splotches, our inspired thoughts.
All-righty then.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Letter from Novelist and Authors Guild President Scott Turow

Dear Authors Guild Member,

Yesterday’s report that the Justice Department may be near filing an antitrust lawsuit against five large trade book publishers and Apple is grim news for everyone who cherishes a rich literary culture.

The Justice Department has been investigating whether those publishers colluded in adopting a new model, pioneered by Apple for its sale of iTunes and apps, for selling e-books. Under that model, Apple simply acts as the publisher’s sales agent, with no authority to discount prices.

We have no way of knowing whether publishers colluded in adopting the agency model for e-book pricing. We do know that collusion wasn’t necessary: given the chance, any rational publisher would have leapt at Apple’s offer and clung to it like a life raft. Amazon was using e-book discounting to destroy bookselling, making it uneconomic for physical bookstores to keep their doors open.

Just before Amazon introduced the Kindle, it convinced major publishers to break old practices and release books in digital form at the same time they released them as hardcovers. Then Amazon dropped its bombshell: as it announced the launch of the Kindle, publishers learned that Amazon would be selling countless frontlist e-books at a loss. This was a game-changer, and not in a good way. Amazon’s predatory pricing would shield it from e-book competitors that lacked Amazon’s deep pockets.

Critically, it also undermined the hardcover market that brick-and-mortar stores depend on. It was as if Netflix announced that it would stream new movies the same weekend they opened in theaters. Publishers, though reportedly furious, largely acquiesced. Amazon, after all, already controlled some 75% of the online physical book market.

Amazon quickly captured the e-book market as well, bringing customers into its proprietary device-and-format walled garden (Sony, the prior e-book device leader, uses the open ePub format). Two years after it introduced the Kindle, Amazon continued to take losses on a deep list of e-book titles, undercutting hardcover sales of the most popular frontlist titles at its brick and mortar competitors. Those losses paid huge dividends. By the end of 2009, Amazon held an estimated 90% of the rapidly growing e-book market. Traditional bookstores were shutting down or scaling back. Borders was on its knees. Barnes & Noble had gamely just begun selling its Nook, but it lacked the capital to absorb e-book losses for long.

Enter Steve Jobs. Two years ago January, one month after B&N shipped its first Nook, Jobs introduced Apple’s iPad, with its proven iTunes-and-apps agency model for digital content. Five of the largest publishers jumped on with Apple’s model, even though it meant those publishers would make less money on every e-book they sold.

Publishers had no real choice (except the largest, Random House, which could bide its time – it took the leap with the launch of the iPad 2): it was seize the agency model or watch Amazon’s discounting destroy their physical distribution chain. Bookstores were well along the path to becoming as rare as record stores. That’s why we publicly backed Macmillan when Amazon tried to use its online print book dominance to enforce its preferred e-book sales terms, even though Apple’s agency model also meant lower royalties for authors.

Our concern about bookstores isn’t rooted in sentiment: bookstores are critical to modern bookselling. Marketing studies consistently show that readers are far more adventurous in their choice of books when in a bookstore than when shopping online. In bookstores, readers are open to trying new genres and new authors: it’s by far the best way for new works to be discovered. Publishing shouldn’t have to choose between bricks and clicks. A robust book marketplace demands both bookstore showrooms to properly display new titles and online distribution for the convenience of customers. Apple thrives on this very model: a strong retail presence to display its high-touch products coupled with vigorous online distribution. While bookstores close, Apple has been busy opening more than 300 stores.

For those of us who have been fortunate enough to become familiar to large numbers of readers, the disappearance of bookstores is deeply troubling, but it will have little effect on our sales or incomes. Like rock bands from the pre-Napster era, established authors can still draw a crowd, if not to a stadium, at least to a virtual shopping cart. For new authors, however, a difficult profession is poised to become much more difficult. The high royalties of direct publishing, for most, are more than offset by drastically smaller markets. And publishers won’t risk capital where there’s no reasonable prospect for reward. They will necessarily focus their capital on what works in an online environment: familiar works by familiar authors.

Two years after the agency model came to bookselling, Amazon is losing its chokehold on the e-book market: its share has fallen from about 90% to roughly 60%. Customers are benefiting from the surprisingly innovative e-readers Barnes & Noble’s investments have delivered, including a tablet device that beat Amazon to the market by fully twelve months. Brick-and-mortar bookstores are starting to compete through their partnership with Google, so loyal customers can buy e-books from them at the same price as they would from Amazon. Direct-selling authors have also benefited, as Amazon more than doubled its royalty rates in the face of competition.

Let’s hope the reports are wrong, or that the Justice Department reconsiders. The irony bites hard: our government may be on the verge of killing real competition in order to save the appearance of competition.

This would be tragic for all of us who value books, and the culture they support.


Scott Turow

Seems to me a day late and a dollar short, but what the hell do I know? There are some interesting responses to this letter here and in the comments section of the original AG posting of this letter.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Would Old Ohio Like it Better?

Oh, the misfortune, the misfortune.
Unfortunately, the work you submitted is not right for us, but we are grateful for the opportunity to consider it, and we wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere. Best Wishes, The Editors, New Ohio Review

Great Volumes of Work

Oh, more regret, more regret.

So Much Poetry in the Name

Oh, the regret, the regret:
Thank you for sending "Title" to Willow Springs. We regret that we are unable to accept it for publication. Best of luck placing it elsewhere. Sincerely, The Editors

Don't Take Them, Wooden or Copper

Oh, the appreciation, the appreciation:
We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, but unfortunately this submission was not right for Copper Nickel. Thank you for trying us. Sincerely, The Editors of Copper Nickel

Saturday, March 10, 2012

You Gotta' Be Kidding Me

I've been holding off on this post, mainly because I am in the middle of sending my book proposal out, and I didn't want to jinx myself. Hah! I say to that now to that. Hah! I've had lots of interest in the proposal and even a few phone meetings with editors, who claim to be so "over the moon" about my book that they can't wait to get on the horn and discuss my vision with me and Secret Agent Man. Some have sent me books as gifts. Others have thanked me for "acting as a therapist" to their own inheritance issues. But has anyone come back with an offer? No. It seems not to matter that the book was excerpted in the New York Times, or that I have been interviewed about it for a forthcoming article, or that it is a very timely topic. They simply act as if they are going to make an offer, but then they do not.
     The last editor was so positive and enthusiastic that s/he was going to go speak with one person and make a formal bid. Then what happened, you ask? Nothing. Literally. Never heard from again. Now that is just down right rude, is it not? If you don't care about the writer, at least get back to the nice agent, with whom you supposedly have a business relationship.
     I tell you, people, a terrible paralysis has felled the editorial world. It's worse than polio because there is no iron lung for these sorry bibliophiles, who don't know what to do. I am sad for them and for the changes in the book industry.
     Thing is: of they cannot pounce on something that is so very likely to sell, then indeed there really was no way in hell anyone was ever going to publish my literary novel. I'm sorry to break this news to myself (and to you) so harshly, but also I am relieved. I am coming to see that we are in a brave new world, mice, and that "reading" itself has become another animal all together, which means we are all in this together. The question is: What do any of us (publishers, editors, agents, writers) do now? Ideas welcome.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Stay Out of My Nightmares Please

Maybe it's good not to be accepted by the dark fiction of your addiction. Just saying':
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, Kara Ferguson, Midnight Screaming for your dark fiction addiction.

Monday, March 5, 2012

It Pinches A Little

It's no fun not being advanced to the next round:
Dear [First Name]: Thank you for your interest in our Literary Awards. We are grateful for the chance to have read your submission. I am sorry to say that "Title" has not moved on to the next round. I would like to personally thank you for the opportunity to consider "Title" and for supporting our journal through your contest entry. I hope you'll enjoy your complimentary copy of The Pinch's upcoming issue. Best wishes, Kristen, The Pinch Journal.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Saturday Evening Post Nasal Drip

Says the writer who received this rejection: "I like the use of the word 'develop'; I do not like their use of 'traditional relationships.'" I personally am stumped by the very last sentence: 'In your writ in endeavors'--huh?
Dear writer:

Thank you for submitting material to The Saturday Evening Post. We regret that we are unable to develop it for publication at this time. Often because of the sheer volume of freelance submissions we receive, we are forced to reject well-written and informative articles and queries.

You may have noticed that the Post has gone through a transition. We purchase very few outside articles and stories, but are increasing our fiction somewhat. Include one or two published clips with your query. We prefer typed manuscripts between 1,000 and 2,000 words in length. We generally buy all rights.

Although we seldom publish new fiction, our readers enjoy upbeat stories that stress traditional relationships and family values. A light, humorous touch is appreciated. We are also always in need of straight humor articles. We are especially interested in well-written, wholesome humor.

If you send a manuscript, either (1) include a sufficiently stamped and sized SASE for its return; or (2) indicate you do not wish the material returned and include sufficiently stamped SASE for reply only.

Thanks again or thinking about the Post. We wish you success in your writ in endeavors.

The Editors

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mix Impressive Work with Softened Blessings and Stir

This batch wasn't right for them:
Dear Writer: Thank you for your recent submission to 32 Poems. This batch of poems wasn’t right for us, but we’re grateful for the opportunity to consider them and invite you to submit again in the future. It’s a mixed blessing that we receive so much impressive work. We sometimes have to turn away poems that we consider exceptionally strong.--The Editors