Rejection, rejection, rejection...

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by deadrats, Aug 19, 2016.

  1. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    It's a tough one. You can imagine how irritating it is when staff spend hours reviewing a story (since it's rarely just one person who has to read and approve it) and they send out an acceptance only for the author to reply, "Oh, sorry, I already accepted an offer from Rival Publication."

    But I'm totally with Steerpike that it's a very author-unfriendly policy to require an exclusive, especially when there is no time limit to how long the story can be tied up with one publication.

    Ultimately, it's a buyer's market (the buyer being the publications) so I'm not surprised when they adopt author-unfriendly policies.
     
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  2. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    And another one.. 88-day form rejection from The New Yorker.
     
  3. Caffrey

    Caffrey New Member

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    Funnily enough, I'm not a believer in simultaneous submissions and everything goes to one place at a time. I always state that in my cover letters too. I tend to carefully consider the average response times from some outlets and often I'll write specifically for a given market. If I have something I really don't want tied up I tend to look for the most suitable market with a quick turnaround. If it bounces back with a 'no' a few times I figure it can go into the timeless void while I write something else.
     
  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    What benefit does an exclusive submission give to you?

    I'm writing for a particular publisher at the moment but if they don't want it, I'll be subbing it (simultaneously) to anybody that might take it.
     
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  5. Caffrey

    Caffrey New Member

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    To be honest, I don't really get any benefit from exclusive submissions. I suppose having been on the other side of the fence I appreciate that sometimes it's a right pain to have someone pull a submission from under you when you're ready to go. Also, I'm disorganised as hell, so this way I find it easier to know where I'm up to. Also, sometimes I'll tweak things for specific submissions and I get confused if I have various versions dotted around.

    In reality, I can't say there's any real reason why I do it; my writing probably has a very small niche audience compared to most peoples so there's not the wide pool to cast into (unless the New Yorker starts looking for stories about training sex robots to clean the windows or ladies who have skin made of bacon).
     
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  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Even though I hate it, I think there can be a benefit to giving a publication an exclusive chance to consider a story. It's kind of like saying, "I believe this is totally right for you. I know your publication. I know the kind of stories you publish. Here's my best shot. Just for you." I have two publications that when I submit to them it's not a simultaneous submission even though they allow it. And one of them did buy a story from me once. It was totally worth the long wait. The other one I'm still trying to crack. But these two publications, I feel, put out work like mine. Or maybe it's me trying to put out work like what they publish. These publications are my favorite to read as well.
     
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  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    New story made it to the post office today. We'll see how this one does out in the world.
     
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  8. Carly Berg

    Carly Berg Contributor Contributor

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    My two cents: I've been on the other side of it and I don't worry about the publisher's convenience at all. I am rightly concerned with my own interests just as they are concerned with theirs. I follow their guidelines and the ones who don't want simultaneous submissions don't accept them.

    I also didn't care about cover letters. You get so much of authors trying various ways to ingratiate themselves that anything besides the story and the standard minimal information soon just came off to me as manipulative and annoying (regardless of whatever their intentions may have been). Authors telling you it was an exclusive submission, how right the story was for the publication, sending thank you emails, asking a question and such were the same- just clogging up my already overflowing inbox and seeming like they wanted to push for an unearned personal advantage. All I cared about was the story. Well, I'm sure that if a famous writer had sent a story, that would be different but I was way too small-potatoes for that. :)

    As a writer, all other things being equal, I send a story to about six publications at a time. The first one to accept it gets it. I then withdraw it from all the other places.

    If I submit it exclusively, there's a reason for it that benefits me more than sending it simultaneously, like if I want that market for that story so much more than the others that I'll wait. Many of the upper-tier publications don't accept simultaneous submissions anyway, so that definitely figures in as well.
     
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I don't think my cover letters are trying to get me an unearned advantage. I don't say how right my story is for them. If it's right, they'll know it. However, I have worked hard to be able to list a few publications that are (at least I believe) impressive. And I worked hard to earn an MFA. I think sometimes that's enough to make an editor look a little closer. And I do feel like these things are somewhat advantages that I've earned. Reading the publications you submit to also does give you an earned advantage, I believe. You know better what they want and hopefully you, as the writer, think you've got something they will go for. I don't think it ever hurts to mention something about a recent issue they've put out. Another advantage is the invite to submit directly to the editor. That's when I don't simultaneously submit regardless of their policy. And I do write that in my cover letter. I feel like it's fair. If they are letting my skip the slush pile, I'll give them an exclusive.

    I used to read submissions for a journal, and I always read cover letters. Though places publish new writers all the time, known and proven writers do have an advantage because there's less risk involved and names people recognize sell and gain attention. A lot of what's published in the top (literary) places is solicited or people have connections. That's not how I broke in, but the first short story I sold for big money was not a simultaneous submission. I clearly stated that and what I liked about the publication. Did it help? I think so. It took several months to get a response. And my first response was maybe. They were seriously thinking about it. I wrote back to thank them for letting me know and told them that they could take all the time they wanted. They didn't have to worry about making a quick decision. If they had, it might not have been the same outcome.

    I haven't had a ton of success (as you can clearly see by this long string of rejections), but I have had some or just gotten lucky. I believe the number one advantage a writer can have is knowing the publications you are submitting to. And there really isn't a good excuse for not giving yourself the best shot you can. And I don't really see any harm in slipping in a line about that in a cover letter. I think a lot of the time editors and submission readers can tell if the writer has even ever read the publication. I also think there are times when it doesn't matter at all. I'm still trying to figure all this out. I've been at this for years, but I'm just now getting in the game.
     
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  10. Carly Berg

    Carly Berg Contributor Contributor

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    @dr- I agree that the things you mentioned are earned advantages, not unearned advantages.
     
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  11. Caffrey

    Caffrey New Member

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    My latest rejection came for a few poems I submitted. It did include the reason. Apparently there's no place in poetry for overt sex and violence.
     
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  12. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I wouldn't mention I've done a CW writing course. But I suppose that's a US/UK thing.

    US, I'd imagine would be more 'and I studied MFA under Charles Bronowski, NY state pd.'

    'Great!'

    and UK, 'and after I failed by A levels, Dad paid for me to do a Open university writing degree.'

    'You sad twat.'
     
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  13. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think a good way to know what to say in a cover letter is to look at the writer bios in the publication you are submitting to. When I started writing short stories and reading publications, it seemed like every writer had an MFA or taught in an MFA program. I was like, "What is this MFA thing and how do I get one?" LOL. But it was a little like that. And I didn't start selling fiction until after I had an MFA. Not that everyone needs one, but if you can get one, why not? It's not going to hurt anything and might actually help. I don't know. The degree debate is a whole other thing. I needed it to be able to write the way I write now. I do believe that. But that's me. Maybe other people have more natural talent and need less instruction.
     
  14. John Calligan

    John Calligan Senior Member

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    I have a feeling you're just ahead of your time.
     
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  15. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    A 48-day form rejection from New England Review.
     
  16. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Hey @DR - I started a reply a couple of times...so you said...

    I think a good way to know what to say in a cover letter is to look at the writer bios in the publication you are submitting to.

    My goodness, last time I did that I became enraged. It was the Southampton Northampton Review (US), - [but there are many other examples possibly ;) ]

    STOOPID/HYSTERICAL
    ...and I was incensed the way this/these literary reviews appeared like parodies with their mincing watercolour cover, the utterly humourless poetry, and the bios that were almost incestuous: the faraway look in the author's photograph, and every one of the contributors funded for a chap-book and did nothing else [no-one had a job except for CW Tutor] nothing else but write about forests and light, dust motes and cats sitting in their boring cabins preaching world peace to fellow contributors.

    BUT...I suppose that's the point - you have to see things through their THEIR minds' eye. It was so disgustingly cerebral and wet. That, this is MARKET - I have to learn.

    ..

    Likewise - urban mags where they bang on about social media, and all the stories are about drugs, no great shakes, eh..
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018 at 9:32 PM
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  17. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    Same with the winners for the Writers and Artists' Yearbook contest - all very similar stories. But that's a well-trodden crit of Bloombury lit - that we all like to read work that reflects ourselves, mm.

    ANTI-PEOPLE RACISM
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018 at 9:33 PM
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  18. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    @matwoolf -- I haven't checked out the publication you mentioned, but I can see where you are coming from. However, don't be fooled by formulaic bios. I just meant it was a good way to see what sort of things might be important in a cover letter to journals. As @Carly Berg said earlier, not all places even read cover letters. But not all literary journals are created equal, regardless of the bios in the back often sounding similar. The Paris Review, which is pretty much the top of the top, is so edgy and unexpected when it comes to the fiction it puts out. It's still literary fiction, for sure, but it takes risks and, I believe, publishes very original and anything-but-boring content. The Gettysburg Review is another good one I would say that also breaks the mold. My bio and cover letters are pretty standard, but hopefully my stories are not. :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2018 at 10:13 PM
  19. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I know..:)

    I was indulging prejudice.
     
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  20. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Just curious... What sort of things are you working on? I know you write poetry. Do you also write literary short stories? I know that the literary world can seem like an exclusive club that has no interest in new members, but if they let me in, they can't be all that exclusive. :) And even though so many of them have "Review" in their name, they are quite different. A great one you might want to check out is McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. They are by far more quirky and fun than a lot of other journals. They also regularly publish great writers like Roddy Doyle. I believe he's from your side of the pond. He's really great with humor. I've seen a few novellas by him in McSweeney's that have been super great and fun to read.

    I do think it might be even harder to sell poetry to these places than fiction. I've dabbled in poetry, but I don't think I'm very good. I have poets I really enjoy, but I can't always tell a good poem from a bad one. Did you ever track down a photo of your bus stop poem? That's a pretty cool way to be published if you ask me.
     
  21. matwoolf

    matwoolf Contributor Contributor

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    I need to start something new.

    Drew the last couple of years to a close with a collection - and entered it in a contest - thinking 'I will win, I have to win.'

    So when I lose I'll hawk it out a half dozen times and then receiving six rejections I'll walk into the sea, or a factory.

    After the compilation of the collection, I wrote some quite wacko 2000s - thinking they were incredible and posted them away to the powerhouses of lit. Looking now they are rather strange and under-baked. But there's some decent enough titbits in the pipe, apols. I would like at least one to strike gold.

    Also, I spent an age on a life-write - turned it 3p, then tried to write it in Indian dialect to shift, loosen my mind-manacles - and became immersed in the treacle. I will have to ditch it. I've only done that two, three times before. The poetry is more hobby, I had a poetry submission rejected again, bleth...

    Should have put this in a pm, mmm. We've moved house 100s of miles away from anywhere so it's a strange time for me.
     
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  22. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    87-day rejection from Boulevard. I thought this was a personal rejection only I got the same exact thing before. Oh, well. It's a nice form, and I will try them again.
     
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