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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Conjunction, Junction: What's Your Function?

I did a quickie search and found that Martin is Martin Dibner, author of The Admiral, which was published in 1967.  However, Conjunctions magazine was started in 1981, so maybe not. I'm not sure. Also, there are no search results that I can find for a story titled "The Jesus' Paradox." Is that what it says? Can anyone shed some light here?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You Won't Believe What W. Somerset Maugham Did To Sell His First Book!

Novelist W. Somerset Maugham, famous for his book Of Human Bondage, had dismal sales for his first novel, Liza of Lambeth.  His publisher had no interest in advertising the book. So, he cleverly placed a few classified ads in a few daily newspapers in London. It said:
Young millionaire, lover of sports, cultivated, with good taste of music and a patient and empathetic character wishes to marry any young and beautiful girl that resembles the heroine of W.S. Maugham's new novel.
Within 7 days, the first edition of his little known novel sold out. It went on to get critical praise and popular sales. Here are some other first novels that made it big out of the gate:
  • Ralph Ellison's only novel Invisible Man
  • Janet Fitch's White Oleander
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise
  • Fannie Flagg's Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe
  • Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain
  • David Guterson's Snow Fall on Cedars
  • Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees
  • Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies
  • Harper Lee's only novel To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Jay McInernay's Bright Lights, Big City
  • Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind
  • Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar
  • Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things
  • Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones
  • Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray
Just sayin': Good things are possible.

Even Gordie Lish Rejected Ray Carver Once in A While

Well, competition for space at The Quarterly was "ferociously tough," after all.  It can't be a win every time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Petition Against Book Bullies (AKA: Everyone's A Friggin'Critic)

Mice: I am in the midst of sending out queries to book bloggers and reviewers and book clubs because it is only 22 weeks before my book is released. Okay, that sounds like an eternity, but nonetheless, it's good to keep on top of these things and get as many outlets to agree to review the book as possible, or so I'm told.  Speaking of book reviews, there appears to be a petition going around at against the nasty unwashed book bullies at Amazon. Among the many signers of the petition: Anne Rice. What can you do?  It's like Jules Renard says: "Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to those who have none.” That said, just for fun, how about a little look-see at some funny book reviews of classic novels as written by some geniuses on Amazon (presented by the Huffington Post).

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Never Did Get An Agent, But Sold My Novel Anyway

Remember this catastrophe of agent rejections, mice? Well, it never got any better.  In fact, my novel got published because I entered it into a small press first novel contest. It didn't even win, you know, but it did get chosen as one of the four books the teeny tiny press puts out there in the world.  The publisher says, "Basically because this deserves to be a book." And that's that. Of course I do have an agent for the more commercial enterprise of mine, but that book is still being written. Why is it taking so long to get it right, the commercial book? I don't know. Maybe that's just not the kind of Girlie Man I am.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Lost in the Jungle of Complaints and Worry

Luck is a strange thing when it comes to books. My first book comes to mind: the editor quit/was fired almost as soon as the thing hit the bookstores. It was news  not shared with me for weeks. Finally, I heard about it on the street and I have to say I was furious at how it was handled. But what can you do? That was the end of that: book dead in the water. Orphaned books are generally not well promoted books.

With my novel due out November 11, 2014, I learn that the publisher/editor of the little press is pregnant: baby due in December, a few weeks following the birth of my novel. This is incredible happy news, and I am glad for the budding family. Also there's an illness in the family of someone closely related to the book. This is just life, I know, life and death.

Here's the long and short of it; I used to say that if my manuscript ever made it into a book I would be eternally grateful and humble. So be it. For now, I say thank you for the book, and I will shut the fuck up. Amen.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Feeling Down? Rejected? Dejected? Think You're a Literary Wash Up?

Remember this author, this book, this victory? Right then. So you can keep at it, friends. Some people take longer to get to the goal than others. No shame in that. Some books have longer gestational periods and some books are rejected for, say, a decade. This "experimental" novel won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the Desmond Elliot Prize, the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, and the Goldsmiths Prize. A very small press published it.  Hooray for small presses! Hooray for persistent artists! Writes the Telegraph:
McBride began sending her manuscript to publishers in 2004 but its experimental style – with no commas or speech marks - made it a difficult sell. She endured rejection after rejection, and all but gave up hope that the book would ever see the light the day.
Right on, yo. Write on!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Uh-Oh: Am I A Rejection Junkie?

I ran across a book titled The Rejection Junkies Book in my travels. I read a little bit about it, and I guess I have to admit I qualify. The author's blog asks the provocative question: "Are you tired of being rejected by the world?" Um, yes. I am. But I'm used to it. Did you know that by 8 years old, 80% of our emotional patterns are formed? Was I therefore raised to be a writer? My family would be surprised to learn it, I think. They wish I'd stop writing; it makes them uncomfortable. Hmm...I'm going to go lie down on the couch and think about that for awhile.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Editor of the Atlantic Monthly on Rejection

Remember this guy (who is NOT my father)? He wrote an essay titled "How to Read a Rejection," which on the whole is very interesting. You can read it here. Consider his words of wisdom on the power dynamics involved in rejection:
As someone who has been writing letters of rejection 30 or 40 times a day for more than 35 years, I have considerable sympathy for my friend the writer-and an appreciation for the dilemma of "the editor," someone compelled to reject far more often than accept and to manage relationships with writers that are wildly lopsided. The editor has almost obscenely exaggerated power, since the ratio of candidates to published stories is so enormous (at least 1,000 to 1 at the Atlantic Monthly) and the writer's emotional stake in acceptance or rejection is so huge.
He parses out the meaning of different rejections, and offers some insight, probably nothing you don't already know.  Still, a helpful read.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Joan Didion Rejections

Smoke in your face and an avalanche of rejections for a Joan Didion story circa 1965:
Saturday Evening Post:
Many of us read it and a great many were excited and insistent in their admiration of it. Others, and they include Bill Emerson who has the final vote, also admired it but felt that it was wrong for the Post, not so much because of its subject matter, but also because of the oblique method of narration.
The New Yorker:
As a whole it just isn’t effective enough.
Ladies’ Home Journal:
Too negative for us.
I feel very bad about rejecting this story — not because I think it’s really a well worked-out story but because the writing is so awfully good. She has a very special way of involving the reader… but I’m turning this down, reluctantly, because I don’t think it’s a successful story in the end.
Just too brittle.
Harper’s Bazaar:
While “The Wellfare Island Ferry” is almost my favorite among the stories we have published… I feel that “When Did Music Come this Way?” is not quite as good.
Not quite right for us.
Unable to use this particular story.
The Atlantic Monthly:
I hope you’ll be sending us more of Joan Didion’s work, but this didn’t make it, so back to you.
The Reporter:
Alas, not right for The Reporter.
Too depressing.
  Good Housekeeping:
Marvelously written, very real, and so utterly depressing that I’m going to sit under a cloud of angst and gloom all afternoon… I’m sorry we are seldom inclined to give our readers this bad a time. 
Via: whose magnitude for reading and writing interesting blog posts seems endless. Thank you. (Plus to be totally transparent, this is also a pick up of the cool yellow Brainpicker quotation marks, with which I am now officially in love.) 

p.s. Interesting to see what the respectable magazine rounds for a story were in 1965.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hunter S. Thompson Goes B*t S***t on Biographer

Does it count as a rejection if the author lambasts his biographer? Here is a charming little hand-jotted note from Hunter S. to William McKeen who wrote Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson. Guess he didn't like the book.

Via: Flavorwire.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rejection Written to Ursula Le Guin's Agent

Here's a good one to Virginia Kidd, famous sci-fi lit agent, from an editor who found Le Guin a bit complicated. Love the line: "The interim legends become so much of a nuisance despite their relevance."

Thursday, July 10, 2014

T.S. Eliot rejecting Orwel's Animal Farm

Eliot worked for Faber and Faber at the time. He rejected the book, indicating that he thought Orwell's satire was off. He expressed it in this mind-boggling way:
"After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore are the best qualified to run the farm -- in fact there couldn't have been an Animal Farm without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs." 
Is he defending Stalin here? And wouldn't a more "public-spirited" pig be a communist pig? Not sure I get it, but I'm not as smart as all that anyway.

Monday, July 7, 2014

You Are TOO Dumb to Work Here

Is this the nightmare-iest HR executive return application letter ever? Can you imagine applying for a job at Trader Joe's and getting this horror show back as your rejection letter?  I mean, maybe the poor, young applicant seriously dodged a bullet by missing this hiring opportunity by this sadistic individual. I mean, a lesson to young person is one thing, a humiliation is quite another.  Am I wrong? 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Satan Doesn't Want Your 200 Clams?

So, what exactly happens when the church of satan rejects you? Do you go straight to heaven? Just wondering, yo. I know this isn't strictly literary, but there does seem to be something poetic going on here, right?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Houghton Mifflin Cannot Read Your Tome

Here's a good trick to avoiding rejection that stings: send a manuscript no one can read! I mean, it's a thought.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Our Very Own New Yorker Addicts Preferred

Here's an argument for how it's all about who you know. The New Yorker will hire its very own internal cocaine junkies, thank you very much.