Glimmer Train offers a wonderful essay by Allison Amend in which she details the many hurdles she had to leap to publish her short story collection, “Things That Pass for Love,” now slated for publication by OV Books in October 2008. (It has a great cover image) It’s also a testament to the difficulty of publishing short story collections — Amend has an MFA from Iowa and has published in venues like Atlantic Monthly, One Story, StoryQuarterly, and Prairie Schooner. (via EWN)
Posts in "Rejections" category
There’s been a flurry of discussion in the blogosphere lately about what an editor should and should not say about submissions. LROD started with some complaints about VQR editor Ted Genoways, then Howard Junker of ZYZZYVA condemns Ted Genoways, and Ted Genoways responds, and Will Entrekin takes issue with the editor of Fence, the editor of Clarkesworld and myself.
I just started reading Scott Snyder’s “Voodoo Heart,” a wonderful collection of short stories originally published in venues like One-Story, Epoch, and Tin House, and published as a collection in 2006. There’s an interview with him over at Literary Rejections on Display, but I just wanted to excerpt this staggering anecdote:
I once sent a story out to a journal – I won’t say which one – and quickly got my SASE back in the mail with a form rejection inside. Which was fine, except that about two weeks later, I got another envelope in the mail, this time one the magazine’s own envelopes, with their own postage, my address hand-written on the cover. And inside was another form rejection for the same story. Which had me wondering, was the story that bad? You had to reject it twice? On your own dime? And then, about three weeks later, I got another letter from the same magazine, rejecting the story again! In one of their own envelopes, own postage, etc. So they actually paid to reject me twice more than necessary. They hated the story that much! Now fast forward to about six months later. I’m doing a small reading with some school friends. I have one friend who runs a small art gallery in Brooklyn (South First – it’s a great place) and she asked if some of us wanted to read there to promote an upcoming show that had a literary theme. I was thrilled to do it. I hadn’t really done many readings at all. So at the reading I read the story that had gotten rejected 3 times. And afterwards someone comes up to me who happens to be an editor at that same magazine that rejected the story so many times and asks if I’ll show it to them. A couple months later, a tuned up version of the story is published in that same magazine.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has an article about a new software called CrossCheck, which is billed as a plagarism program. Most writers, who unlike academics are not quoting and paraphrasing, are hardly ever in danger of plagiarism. But the program actually goes one step beyond crosschecking other previously published articles, and also checks other currently submitted articles: “At Elsevier, a leading journal publisher, an article submitted simultaneously to two Elsevier publications will be automatically flagged.”
Every writer I know ignores the prohibitions against “Simultaneous Submissions” (Or Sim Subs, if you want to be informal about it). And since print submissions are still in vogue, it would be difficult to enter all submissions into a database and crosscheck them against other journals to guard against simultaneous submission. But now that electronic submissions are becoming increasingly popular — especially the program offered by the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) — it would be very easy for code to be written that would flag articles that had been submitted simultaneously. And it would even be worse than in the academic realm, because there are far more programs to upload submissions in the academic realm than in the creative realm, and so only one program might apply to a large number of journals. While my first move to escape detection would be to use different titles for the same story — just like a writer does in the short story collection by Robert Bolano, “Last Evenings on Earth” — a program like CrossCheck would check the entire story, not just the title. Those damn computers: Sometimes I feel like I’m playing chess against HAL.
For now — and I should emphasize the “now” — this program is only available to academic journals, and hasn’t yet crossed over to the literary realm (as far as I know). But I think this kind of possibility might serve as a slight deterrent to those writers who continue to cry and beg and implore journals to switch to electronic submissions. Let it be said: there are some definite downsides to the electronic format. Although I have to admit — with postage rising yet again, it might be a downside I’ll eventually be willing to accept.
Over at Literary Rejections on Display, there’s a list of reasons why agents/publishers rejected a particular author’s last two manuscripts. It’s hilarious, as long as you don’t get depressed easily. And couldn’t you see this in one of the sidebars of Harper’s Magazine?
we find this book too complicated for our readers
we think there are too many “fucks” in this book
we wouldn’t be able to sell more than 12 copies of this book
we cannot take a risk with such a postmodern novel
we could face a law suit with this book
we find this book totally unreadable
we find this book too narrow in scope
we think the characters need fleshing out
we think this book could use a good rewriting — it’s too short
we are tired of publishing books about the Holocaust
we are looking for books that teach people how to improve their lives
we think your book would make the readers suffer
we think your book needs a happy ending
we think nobody gives a shit about the lives of farmers in Southern France
we love the subject of the book, but at the present time the relations between England and France, being what they are, your book would not receive favorable attention from British readers
Sorry for not posting on Sunday night/Monday morning, as is my custom. I was busied by academic and other forces beyond imagining. Or rather, few enjoy imagining them, so I won’t bore you with details. Anyhow, a few bits on rejection.
I can’t help but like Literary Rejections on Display. I mean, it’s like the literary equivalent of a guilty pleasure, like reading People magazine. How fun is it to complain about getting an anonymous rejection slip by some editor in under 48 hours? Even when I disagree with the posts, I still like them and laugh or sympathize. As an editor of a literary journal who parcels out quite a few rejections buy drugs online no prescription myself, I have a firm belief that editors know their business and know what belongs in their journal. Perhaps I tell myself that to make myself feel right about rejecting stories, or to make myself feel better about getting rejected (yes, being stoical is the key). But mosey on over and enjoy the litany of complaints and whines.
The Willesden Herald has a lovely piece on what was wrong with all the submissions they received, and the flaws that caused them to immediately throw a story in the rubbish bin. (If you remember, this is the contest where Zadie Smith decided not to crown a winner.)
Over at The Millions, there is a great post on what to do with your rejection slips. There is a suggestion about a dress. There is also one about a tux. And there is the famous reminder that Steven King impales his on a nail. Me, I just keep them in a big stack, but I’ve been considering creating some kind of visual art with them. I was thinking about a gallery space where I could use them as wallpaper, and then hang a huge ball, an earth ball, from the ceiling, which would also be pasted with them. But best of all, I would use string and dangle them at various heights, so visitors feel like they’re walking through a snowfall of rejection. Cheerful, isn’t it? And yes, I’ve thought too much about it.
Dan Green at The Reading Experience has a great post on the recent ruckus of publishing the pre-edited versions of Raymond Carver’s stories. Despite the die-hard fans who clamor for what they see as the “real” Carver, and the academics who always need more sources for their dissertations, I’ve said before that this is not in Carver’s best interests. Green says that this will tarnish Carver’s reputation, making it difficult to ever read him without questioning whether this is Carver or his editor Gordon Lish, and I agree.
Jamelah Earle at Litkicks has a list of five favorite short stories — haven’t read the one by James Baldwin, but of course Flannery O’Connor is a favorite.
Ninth Letter reinterprets Kelly Link’s short story “The Girl Detective” by way of a video art piece. Kelly Link rocks, and Ninth Letter continually surprises me with the way they keep on stretching the conventional notions of “literary journal.” The video’s quite fun, too. (via Luna Park)