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I have decided not to respond to this person. The first time, he yelled at me for responding too quickly to his first story. Then, after eight emails back and forth, he finally understood the first story wasn't what I was looking for. This is his response to his second story and my form rejection. His was the 15th story I read today.

This is a real email and has not been edited.

"That’s great Jennifer. We have a long conversation, and a good back and forth. I tell you I have written this great story from the ground up tailor made for your magazine and I submit it, and all I get back is a lousy form rejection letter? I mean really? You can’t even tell me why you rejected this piece after all our banter? That frankly sucks, and that kind of utter callousness shows a lot about the nature of your character.

In my years on this planet, I have never seen a more superficial society with more terrible taste in all things from music, to movies and books than the one we have today. I had hoped that the literary magazine world would be more above that, perhaps one of the last bastions in fact for works of depth and substance, free of the Lady GagGag superficial disease. I had hoped to find in words Islands perhaps rising out of the vast consuming and ever rising ocean of banality. I have found thus far, to my eternal disappointment, that the same culture of superficiality that has infected popular culture has spread its disease as well to many literary magazine editors, who publish either clichéd, superficial stories, or publish bad stories simply because the writer has somehow managed to garner publication credits, or publish stories that are full of flashy shiny thing’s and sex and violence because, just like Hollywood, they feel they need to do this to keep peoples interest, and imagine their audience lacks the intellect to perceive anything deeper or more advanced. And if literary magazines, like the book publishing industry before them, have fallen under this tide, what home is there left for writing of genuine substance? Substance, slowly or rapidly, becomes an anachronism.

Editors like you seem to be part of this tide of banality. To reject a story like the one I wrote without so much as a comment not only shows bad taste but base callousness. When editors like you become goalies preventing works of intellect and substance from ever reaching the printed page, in favor of the flashy and superficial, there is no place left for such works. So congratulations on keeping the works of good writers down in the desperate hope to garner the 3 of the 4 minute attention span of Joe six pack with something shiny, cliché, and dumbed down. This experience has further helped enlighten me to the devious inner workings of editors that allow deserving stories to fall by the wayside, and mediocre stories to take the limelight, as long as they have enough medals in the form of publishing credits pinned to their chests."

Writers... please don't do this. It makes me want to give up on life.


( 62 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 20th, 2011 04:50 am (UTC)
. . .
Special snowflake writer is for special snowflake. If we're all lucky, he'll take his artistic works of genius and go self-publish himself, rather than make any editor struggle with the moral quandary of whether to reject him, or reject him with comments.
Jul. 20th, 2011 04:58 am (UTC)
If that's how his stories are written, he doesn't deserve personalized rejection. He definitely deserves form.

Igads, I couldn't even finish the second paragraph.

Jul. 20th, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
My eyes actually glazed over. WOW.

. . . I think I know this guy, actually. Or, at least, someone very like him.
Jul. 20th, 2011 05:02 am (UTC)
Oh my dear God. You are a much better person than I am; I would have tapdanced on his back when I probably shouldn't have.

I mean. Oh my. Ultimately, selling a short story is a Business Deal. This is NOT how one Does Business.

I am so, so sorry you have experienced this, especially after going the extra mile to work with this person. So, so sorry.
R. K. MacPherson
Jul. 20th, 2011 05:03 am (UTC)
Proud Member Vast Editorial Conspiracy
It's too bad he's so reactionary, but better that he knows now. He's lucky to get the form letter! Frankly, I'm amazed you went to the lengths you did to reach out to him the first time. I'd have thought he'd learn something from THAT experience. Never burn bridges, always be polite, say please and thank you.

Simple things that can go a long way.
Jul. 20th, 2011 05:09 am (UTC)
Wow...just...wow. You have my sympathies and my respect at your restraint.
Jul. 20th, 2011 05:13 am (UTC)
My avatar can beat up your avatar.
(no subject) - cuddlycthulhu - Jul. 20th, 2011 06:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - oneminutemonkey - Jul. 20th, 2011 06:20 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cuddlycthulhu - Jul. 20th, 2011 06:34 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2011 05:26 am (UTC)
Um, I am not sure what to say other than to say that I appreciate your amazing efforts as an editor and you have my sympathies that you need to put up with this. *hugs*
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
Jul. 20th, 2011 06:01 am (UTC)
Dear god, I totally recognize this guy! I saw his ego floating over the grand canyon with a bunch of other hot-air balloons! :P

I'm so sorry you had to deal with that.
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
You're not the only one with the sighting. Thank you.
Jul. 20th, 2011 06:04 am (UTC)
Ha! Wow! I've seen some crazy rejection responses, but that one deserves saving. :)

How do these people even exist?
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
I am saving it as an example of what not to do. Eventually, I will put up the exchange he and I had over his first rejection.
(no subject) - marlowe1 - Jul. 20th, 2011 11:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2011 06:21 am (UTC)
If I received that, I'd be tempted to send a form rejection letter regarding that email--telling him (assumption) that his hate mail isn't quite there, but if he works on it some I'll happily take it later.

- Ryan
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
Heh. That's you. I'm just stepping away from him.
Jul. 20th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC)
You gave him EIGHT emails back and forth?

I would have binned the first one and blacklisted his email. You do not argue with a rejection. Ever.
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
On the first one, yes.

On the second one, no.
Jul. 20th, 2011 08:25 am (UTC)
This is not the way to get an editor on your side and it is also completely unprofessional. When will writers ever learn that talking back to editors and putting on airs with that arrogant "I'm better than anyone else" attitude is fruitless and sad?
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:08 pm (UTC)
I don't know. I do know a bunch of editors have asked me for his contact info - fair warned is fair armed.
Jul. 20th, 2011 09:18 am (UTC)
I have been known to have an unprofessional lapse here and there myself (I'm sure you remember). But. . . holy shit dude, I mean. Wow. Just wow. The sheer egotism bleeding off the page. Astounding.
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Makes you think, huh? And you were never that bad.
(no subject) - sargon999 - Jul. 20th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2011 11:06 am (UTC)
I'm sorry you have to deal with this kind of thing, but I can't help but laugh at this. Wow. :)
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Some of it is much shorter but all of it is just as mean.
(no subject) - jenniferkoliver - Jul. 20th, 2011 08:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2011 01:11 pm (UTC)
Send back a letter. "Thank you for your submission. I would like to include it in my next book: "Write and Wrong: 15 Ways NOT to Get Published". Please fill out the author bio form attached. Thanks!"

Jul. 20th, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC)
Nope. Not going to do it.
Jul. 20th, 2011 01:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, wow. I am sorry that the world is filled with bitter hate filled inability to handle the word "no". I hope that for every special snowflake there is one writer that you have been able to mentor, take a chance on and get to succeed. With you or elsewhere.
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
Fortunately, I have been able to help and mentor a number of fabulous authors and editors.
Jul. 20th, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC)
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:10 pm (UTC)
Yep. And people don't believe some of the stories I tell.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
It's OK. Don't worry about it.
Jul. 20th, 2011 05:06 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry you had to deal with that. I guess I really should say "have to," because he probably won't be the last idiot you have to reject.

Thank you for taking the time to send the occasional personal rejection letter. Some of us appreciate that. :-)
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:11 pm (UTC)
Fortunately, most authors are not like this. Most either accept and move on. Some ask for more info and accept that when I give it to them.
Jul. 20th, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
It never ceases to amaze me how some people react. Wow... that really is the only word that comes to mind.

I'm sorry - and remember, we all know you are an amazing editor, writer, and mentor.
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Dylan. I appreciate that.
Jul. 20th, 2011 06:01 pm (UTC)
People like that leave me speechless.

I think he needs a slice of humble pie. Start taking ownership of your own person, and stop blaming your inadequacies on all those around you (culture, etc).

Jul. 20th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I never believed half the stories editors told me until I became one.
(no subject) - marlowe1 - Jul. 20th, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
Could you email me this person's name, please? They need to be added to my "never work with" list. (Yes folks, editors do keep such lists.)
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
Jul. 20th, 2011 06:20 pm (UTC)
Editors do one hell of a job with very little recognition. No good editor, no good anthology or magazine. It is not and cannot be all the work of the authors. I have seen the Edge grow, with a good base of authors. That? That is YOUR work.

This author was very unprofessional. Which happens, because we are human, but it was still a bad call on his or her part.
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
(no subject) - deire - Jul. 20th, 2011 08:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
I feel bad for laughing at this. In my defense, I work in newspapers. We just letters at least as crazy as this on a regular basis.
Jul. 20th, 2011 07:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, I see how it is. You mock my pain! :)
(no subject) - misha_mcg - Jul. 20th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
It's cool that you're not taking this personally--I try really hard not to myself when it happens. And it always happens. Always.

I mean, the dude is clearly just at a breaking point. Even good, mostly rational people sometimes hit that frustration wall and lash out. They usually regret it later--either that or they aren't so rational after all and are meant to live under a rock with their superspecial fiction and, hey, whatever. No harm done.

And that's why not swiping back is cool. Though I do like some of the ideas in the comments for responses. I mean, if you can't laugh, you cry, right?
Jul. 22nd, 2011 06:44 am (UTC)
Or use him as a perfect example of not to do while speaking on a panel.
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