Introducing the Rejected Page

In the interest of compiling all my submission records (Submittable and Duotrope) into one, organized location rather than expecting readers to dig through the archives of posts to find out who, when, and where I’ve submitted and what the submission response time was, I present to you a Rejected list. Similar in structure to Court Merrigan’s Failure Page, it’s intended to expose you to lovely literary journals you might never have heard of before and to give you a general idea, as this blog originally intended, of how long you can expect to wait before receiving a rejection or acceptance letter. So instead of sporadically forcing a Slow Sunday blog post upon you, you can check the list whenever the fancy strikes. Also you can check out my published page to learn about other great journals and magazines!

Does this format work for you, or is there valuable missing information you’d like me to include? I’m open to suggestions :]

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#1 Way to Protect Your Query Letter from an Upon-Arrival Trashcan Fate

Let me tell you a true story.
It’s a horror story.
A publishing horror story.
The following is not for the faint of heart.

I work at a social science press. We publish history, economic, sociology, psychology, and urban planning books (among others). On occasion, we publish memoirs but these books are usually the memoirs of significant leaders in the above-mentioned academic fields. We have our own website, clearly illustrating what we publish.

So it boggled my mind when I found out that some of the editors at my company receive query letters for fiction titles. Action adventure fiction, mystery thrillers, literary fiction. These aren’t poorly written query letters either; the writers’ have obviously spent a lot of time editing their manuscripts and researching the appropriate format of a catchy query letter. They just haven’t bothered to research their market at all. After all that work, the editors at my company barely give those query letters a glance before throwing them out; with them, they throw out an author’s misplaced dreams and hopes. (Don’t worry. The editors are kind enough to reply and explain that the manuscript just isn’t our thing).

Your book might be amazing. Your query letter might be phenomenal. But it’s not going to convince a publisher to change their business plan, alter their distribution method, and design a unique marketing method just for you and your special book if they simply do not publish/acquire that genre.

An adult fiction literary agent or publisher will not suddenly decide to publish a YA title (and if they do accept your submission, despite it being way outside their range of expertise, you should be concerned. How well can a literary agent, for example, shop your book if they’ve never represented a YA book before and never had the chance to cultivate those critical editor contacts?) A serious academic press will not change their tune and start publishing romance novels. Cookbook publishers are not going to be interested in publishing a collection of short stories.

So writers, do your homework. After all the hard work of writing and editing a book, then a query letter, and then building up the nerve to submit it all . . . don’t waste all that effort (and everyone’s time) by submitting it to a literary agent and/or editor if you both know it’s not going to be their cup of tea. Don’t do all that work and then sabotage yourself and send it to somebody who will, without a doubt, say no.

When querying literary agents . . .
Look at their website and see if your book would fit what they’re looking for. What do they tell you they like to represent? What do they tell you they will never–even if the world ended–represent. Respect their wishes.

When querying publishers . . .
Look at their website. First, make sure that they accept unagented submissions. If they require every submission to be agented, they will not make an exception for you. Your query letter won’t knock their socks off because they won’t even bother reading it before throwing it in the recycling.

If they do accept author submissions, then check out what their mission statement or About page says they publish. Search for comp titles (books they’ve published that are similar to yours). Do they publish books for the same audience (ex: adult vs. children)? Do they often publish the genre your book is (ex: romance, thriller, literary, fiction, memoir)? Are the comp titles recent publications or from decades ago? (This might reflect that they’re moving in a different direction and don’t acquire those types of books anymore.)

So the #1 Way to Protect Your Query Letter from an Upon-Arrival Trashcan Fate?
Submit to somebody who’s going to want your book. You can’t guess ahead of time who will definitely accept it–if you did, writers would never get rejection letters–but research enough to know who would never ever in a million years consider representing/publishing your manuscript.

(Image, No Copyright)

The Scoop on New South Journal

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the rejection letters I got in the past month was for New South, the official literary art journal of George State University. I submitted a fiction story that I’ve been shopping around for two years now–a story I’ve fixed-up, reorganized, and rewrote at the recommendation of different editors (and at my own recommendation as my writing has improved over time and each old version becomes stale) for the same length of time. It’s gotten more rejection letters than all of my other rejection letters combined,* but I simply cannot abandon it and put it in a drawer. It won the 2009 Fuller Fiction Award, an undergraduate award specifically for Bloomsburg University students, and got an “almost, but we don’t have time to wait for the edits” rejection letter.** This convinces me that it must have some literary merit and I am determined to find people who agree. Have any of you gone through similar repetitive experiences with a submission? Did it pay off?

In any case, New South isn’t the right home for this story, but it might be for your work! Check out the information below, read some excerpts from past issues here, and consider submitting.

What They Want:  “New South seeks to publish high quality work, regardless of genre, form, or regional ties. We are looking for what is new, what is fresh, what is different, whether it comes from the Southern United States, the South of India, or the North, East or West of Anywhere. ” This can come in the form of one fiction story up to 9,000 words in length, or up to five short-shorts under 1,000 words each; up to five poems; creative nonfiction or lyric essay up to 9,000 words in length. For criticism, please query first.

How They Want It: Via their own online submission manager, Tell It Slant. See further submission guidelines here.

When They Want It: Anytime. Rolling submissions.

Contests? Yes! They’re having one right now; there are awards for both prose and poetry. Grand prize is $1,000.

Simultaneous Submissions Allowed? Yes.

Paid Market? No.

Official Submission Response Time: Not mentioned.

Personal Submission Response Time: 2 months, 9 days

*This isn’t actually true. The story has gotten ten rejection letters total and I’ve certainly received more rejection letters than that.

**”Why not resubmit there?” you ask. Well, the journal in question, Glass Mountain, only accepts undergraduate writing and by the time the next period of open submissions rolled around, I had graduated. It’s an excellent journal though, so if you’re an undergraduate, definitely consider submitting!

What To Do When Your Book Idea is Stolen and Made into a Bestseller

  1. Monday (9:00am):  Denial.  Denial, denial, denial.  When they clog up your email, each electronic bad news arriving one after another, providing a summary paragraph that’s startlingly similar to the plot of your own manuscript, refuse to read the:
  1. Monday (9:15am):  As bitter revenge, consider unsubscribing from all of these newsletters.  Try reading the unsubscribing small print; then, confused, give up.
  2. Monday (9:16am) through Tuesday (midnight): Glower and hate the publishing world for not seeing the genius potential of your book.  Specifically, resent yourself for failing to query the correct agent first, before this other author got to him/her.
  3. Wednesday (all day event):  Lament loudly to anyone who will listen—your boss, your physical therapist, your mom, strangers who upon questioning admit that they subscribe to one of the above newsletters—about how tragic the situation is.
  4. Thursday (all day event):  Stalk the new book.  Go back to the newsletters and read everything.  Go to amazon.com and read every review you can find.  Read a few pages on the online page preview.
  5. Thursday (10:10pm):  Feel comforted by the handful of 1-star reviews, assuring yourself that every flaw in the bestseller is non-existent in your own manuscript.  Comfort yourself that the bestseller is intended for an adult audience and yours is for a middle-grade audience.
  6. Friday (7:00pm):  Over dinner, try to assure your mother that the past two years dedicated to this manuscript have not been a waste and that the books are in fact very different and that you still have a good chance of becoming a successful published author.
  7. Friday (7:22pm):  Half-believe her comment that your book is even more attractive to the publishing world, now, because of how popular the topic is.  Ignore the nagging thought that nobody will want to purchase and read the same book twice.
  8. Friday (7:45pm):  After dinner, ignore your significant other’s suggestion that you “give up” on this book and write a different one.  Convey your distaste for this suggestion with long, meaningful glares.
  9. Friday (8:00pm):  Burrow under the covers for a minimum of twelve hours, protesting the injustice.
  10. Saturday (11:00am):  Sign up for NaNoWriMo to write your next book.

 

*Insert wailing wherever it seems appropriate and necessary.

The Benefits of Being Rejected By the Madison Review

It was a form rejection letter, so I haven’t gained a better idea of what they’re actually looking for, but at least I can share the previously unknown fact that you can expect the Madison Review to get back to you in one month, like they did for me.

In case you are interested in submitting, here is the rest of the information that can make that possible:

What They Want:  Unpublished short stories (max 30 pages) and poetry (max 5 clocking in at a combined 15 page maximum).

When They Want It:  Whenever.  Rolling submissions.

How They Want It:  Via submittable.

Simultaneous Submissions?  Yes.

Archive:  here.

Submission Fee?  Yes, $2.00.

Payment? Nope.

Official Submission Response Time: Unknown

Personal Submission Response Time: 1 month (30 days) exactly

Writers Are a Virtuous Breed

True fact.  Not that we have much choice, now, do we?  I suppose we could always write nasty emails demanding quicker responses, but that probably occurs to writers as often as it occurs to them to respond to rejection letters. (PS: DON’T DO IT!)

I’m currently waiting upon:

Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown

Skirt.com (date submitted: September 3rd; what submitted: 1 non-fiction) Official Response Time: 6-8 weeks

New South (date submitted: September 20th; what submitted: 1 fiction) Official Response Time: Unknown.

Press 53 (date submitted: September 24th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction) Official Response Time: Will find out by July 1, 2012

Literary Laundry (date submitted: October 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction) Official Response Time: 6 months or under.

Writer’s Digest Young Adult Fiction Contest (date submitted: October 16th; what submitted: 1 fiction) Official Response Time: Will find out by December 31st.

 

PS: See my super cool debut on the Weave magazine blog!  I cannot wait until Issue #7 comes out, with my flash non-fiction story, “To the New Owners of My Childhood Home,” in it!  Subscribe to Weave to read it yourself (I think it might become available online as well, but I’m not sure yet.  I’ll get back to you)!

PPS: As you can tell, writers are an extremely humble breed as well.  False.  As Brevity magazine assures us, it is 100% okay–and actually a good idea–for writers to brag about their accomplishments.  How else would our writing ever get read?!  (Sorry if you’ve already read this article because I’ve linked to it before, but it’s one of my absolute favorites.)

Sucker Lit Mag Spits Out Responses in 11 Days

I was expecting to have to wait a month to hear back from Sucker Literary Magazine–which is a rather quick turn-around in and of itself–but I’ve already heard back!  (I’ll admit it; it was a rejection.  But they did give feedback, so I’ve gotten an idea of some things I’m going to change before submitting it elsewhere.) Personal Response Time: 11 days.

As for the other things I’m currently waiting on:

Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown

Skirt.com (date submitted: September 3rd; what submitted: 1 non-fiction) Official Response Time: 6-8 weeks

The Madison Review (date submitted: September 20th; what submitted: 1 fiction) Official Response Time: Unknown

New South (date submitted: September 20th; what submitted: 1 fiction) Official Response Time: Unknown.

Press 53 (date submitted: September 24th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction) Official Response Time: Will find out by July 1, 2012

Literary Laundry (date submitted: October 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction) Official Response Time: 6 months or under.