Tag Archives: Writing & publishing

Trials of the slush pile

More on rejection… Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Making Light discusses what it’s like to be responsible for reviewing unsolicited manuscripts. I agree with her: It’s not as easy as writers seem to think. She talks specifically about the comments at RejectionCollection.com, where writers send and react to the rejections they’ve received.

(Thanks to Inner Bitch for the link.)

A few years ago, I needed to create a template for rejection letters from Inkburns. I had been trying to respond to each submission individually but as the volume of submissions grew, individual and unique responses became impossible.

And depressing: There is no joy in telling someone, even a stranger, that I am not interested in publishing their work. I never want to quash any writer’s hopes or to deny talent, and I often doubt whether I’m making a right choice. What if I’m missing a true gem? What if I’m not well-read enough to see a work’s value? Are my biases limiting my appreciation?

All the same, as editor I have to make the decisions, and at heart I do know what I want to publish and support. So I checked out RejectionCollection.com to see what most of the writers there wanted from a submission response.

What writers seemed to want was this: To feel loved and wanted.

Obviously a submission response, and in particular a rejection, is not going to help the writer feel loved. So there’s a limit to what even the most personal submission response can do.

I settled on trying to demonstrate that the work had been considered and given full attention. I mention the writer and the work by name to show we were paying attention. I then say that the work doesn’t fit the needs of the publication at this time, but that we appreciate the writer’s interest and want to see more in the future.

I try to avoid establishing too personal a tone, as I don’t want to give false hope or leave the writer thinking that I’m looking to make friends. At the same time, I sincerely appreciate every submission and the effort each represents, and want the writers to keep writing and submitting, to Inkburns and elsewhere.

It’s still outrageously hard to reject writing. I do it, but each one is painful. I’ve thought about saying so in the rejection letters, but I think the writer is more focused on his or her own pain when reading and is more likely to be insulted to hear how I feel. So i just keep it to myself.

(Except for mentioning it here. Actually, I feel a little better having done so.)

Rejection and publication

“Two years ago, the manuscript of what was to be “Everyday Matters” was lying in a drawer. At the time, it was pretty much like the book that’s in stores today but it was called simply “A New York Diary”.

“In late January, 2002, I had lunch with a friend who had just published a monograph of his work. He encouraged me to pick a list of publishers who had made books I liked and just send out my manuscript. “Invest a hundred bucks in copies and stamps and see if anything happens,” he urged.
“So I made a list of thirty publishers and over the next few weeks, filled the mail with manilla envelopes. It took a year for twenty six of them to get around to sending me rejection letters (I’m still waiting on the last four).”

Danny Gregory shares some of the rejections he received in trying to publish Everyday Matters.

I wonder if he considered publishing it himself.

David Foster Wallace parody competition

DFW Parody Competition Finalists.

An excerpt from my favorite entry:
The Y-shaped Styles of Certain Flowers

So. There are two people on a date and they’re eating dinner, and the guy is telling this long involved story about another guy who was having some difficulties and was diagnosed as having some sort of quote-unquote syndrome, some long german word, meaning extreme psychic pain and existential angst which could only be cured by becoming a rock star or a religious zealot. Meanwhile the woman’s thinking about all the things she could be doing, like working out on the stairmaster and reading Time, or going to Brookstone and playing with the Max massager, and there is some embarrassed dialog in her head vis-a-vis wanting the Max but not wanting people to see it in her house and also not wanting it near her genitals as it is not that kind of massager. And also Mogu.

(Link via Cup of Chicha.)

All Things Hodgman

I recently came across this interview with John Hodgman for Media Bistro.

I’m a big fan of Hodgman. He went to school in the Boston area (as I did, although not at the same school and with only perhaps a year overlap, time-wise). He writes really funny yet introspective stuff. He appears frequently on This American Life. He is the host of the Little Gray Book Lecture Series in NYC.

And if you’re not familiar with John Hodgman, here are a few more links to help you get acquainted.

You can find Real Audio of his This American Life segments on the website. Do a search for his name to get a list, and enjoy this expression from his piece on being Bruce Campbell’s literary agent: “It was time to bring the Pope over to cat-sit.”

Continue reading All Things Hodgman

Upcoming Event: Gist Street Reading Series, Feb 14

From the mailing list announcement from Sherrie Flick:
“The February Gist Street is on SATURDAY, February 14th. That’s right–a Valentine’s Gist. Come with your honey, come stag–but please do come to hear Anthony McCann and Matt Rohrer read their poetry.

“Both in from Brooklyn for the occasion, these guys have promised love poems and other poems–love, angst, ennui. How could you pass that up?

“Anthony’s first book, Father of Noise out with Fence Press has been getting praises far and wide. Matt Rohrer, co-founder of Fence Press and author of Satellite (Verse Press) is, in fact, one of the best things since sliced bread. Looking for a romantic gesture? There will
be books for sale.

“There will be (unsliced) homemade bread and ice cream, and several heart shaped cakes and cookies. Please do bring your choice ‘food of love’ to the festivities. BYOB. Socializing begins at 7:30. Readings begin at 8:00. Please COME EARLY if you’d like a seat. Raffle. Friendliness. Acceptance.

“305 Gist Street, James Simon’s Sculpture studio, Uptown–Pittsburgh. 412-434-5629 if you’re lost. $3 suggested donation also gets you in on the raffle. www.giststreet.org