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View Full Version : Unsure if it was form, but it was kinda mean.



Dani Dunn
04-14-2007, 06:21 AM
I submitted my first short story to a journal, and I got a rejection today. I can't really tell if it was a form or not, but the tone of it was strange to me. All they had to say was no. Maybe I'm still a little sensitive about this. Here is a copy of the email:

I have decided against sending your manuscript to the reviewer(s) who assess our creative writing submissions because your manuscript is not appropriate for publication in XXX. The story is overly familiar; I would
like to publish more original plots and ideas in XXX. And as you may know, we publish very little fiction in our pages each year since we are devoted to scholarly and academic publications to a greater extent.

Claudia Gray
04-14-2007, 06:31 AM
It sounds like a form rejection to me, Dani, so don't take it too personally. {{}}

Mystic Blossom
04-14-2007, 06:32 AM
Form rejections range in their niceness (or lack of such), but either way, don't let them get you down. Just keep writing, and keep submitting, as always.

Saundra Julian
04-14-2007, 06:43 AM
Sounded a little snotty to me!
Hang in there sweetie..

TheEnd
04-14-2007, 06:44 AM
I agree. One persons trash is another's treasure... :) Keep smiling and submitting.

blacbird
04-14-2007, 07:04 AM
Form rejections range in their niceness (or lack of such),

"Personalized" rejections do the same thing. Unless somebody takes the time to say something specific, by title, regarding what you have submitted, it's just No.

caw

KCathy
04-14-2007, 07:13 AM
It looks like a really badly worded form rej to me. Even if it's not a form, though, just because they've seen something similar before doesn't mean it won't seem like a cool new twist on a classic theme to the next place you send it. Hang in there and sorry they couldn't be more diplomatic about it--sheesh.

Scrawler
04-14-2007, 07:38 AM
Sounds like a standard form letter from a publication that receives too many inappropriate manuscripts. To me it says any fiction they do happen to accept has to be outstanding, because their main focus is on academic/scholarly. Nothing personal. I bet their Writer's Market listing says something like "Accepts very little fiction" or something.

Dani Dunn
04-14-2007, 07:39 AM
Thanks everyone.

birdfeeder
04-14-2007, 07:20 PM
Dani,

I once received a form rejection that said, "This doesn't look like something I want to work with."

For a moment, my manuscript looked roadkill. Or a stinky diaper.

Dani Dunn
04-14-2007, 07:48 PM
Dani,

I once received a form rejection that said, "This doesn't look like something I want to work with."

For a moment, my manuscript looked roadkill. Or a stinky diaper.

Wow. I've had some really bad ones too.

veinglory
04-14-2007, 08:04 PM
I think you need to give them the benefit of the doubt here. They are telling you that they focus on unique concepts (c.f. excellence in execution or the reworking of archetypal ideas), that gives you any idea of why your story didn't work for them.

Just Me 2021
04-14-2007, 08:56 PM
I think the important thing is to take it as a simple "No thanks" and realize that if YOU love your work, it will speak to someone who loves the same kind of writing your heart inspired you to create. You're just looking for the right audience, the one who loves what you can produce.

They just aren't the right audience, that's all. Nothing more than that.

I know, I know... Easy for me to say that and believe it for you, and so hard to accept for yourself. Same goes for me. I'm trying to get over wanting EVERYONE to love my work, when that's not possible.

KCathy
04-14-2007, 10:41 PM
I'm trying to get over wanting EVERYONE to love my work, when that's not possible.

Me, too! Me, too!

It's obvious from your posts, Dani, that you write well, so I doubt seriously that you just stink. I always think of Emily Dickinson when I'm thinking about people who don't like my work. She sent her poems to ONE editor, an editor who happened to think they were awful, and never tried again. Her work was published after her death. I don't like her poems much, either, but obviously millions of other people do. If your work is good (I bet it is) and you keep at it, you'll find your editor and audience, too. So hang in there!

Dani Dunn
04-15-2007, 03:25 AM
Me, too! Me, too!

It's obvious from your posts, Dani, that you write well, so I doubt seriously that you just stink. I always think of Emily Dickinson when I'm thinking about people who don't like my work. She sent her poems to ONE editor, an editor who happened to think they were awful, and never tried again. Her work was published after her death. I don't like her poems much, either, but obviously millions of other people do. If your work is good (I bet it is) and you keep at it, you'll find your editor and audience, too. So hang in there!

Thanks. I don't expect everyone to love my work, but some of the way people reject us is a little harsh. I didn't realize my story was "inappropriate." I just figured if they didn't like it, they wouldn't publish it. Their website didn't clearly state that they primarily publish scholarly articles. Now I know, and knowing half the battle. I think I'm getting better at this. Rejection hurts more than I expected it.

janetbellinger
04-15-2007, 04:05 AM
Sorry about that Dani. I've had rejections on poetry where I was told it wasn't original enough. So yo u're not alone.

aadams73
04-15-2007, 03:11 PM
Dani,

I once received a form rejection that said, "This doesn't look like something I want to work with."



*cough* Ethan Ellenberg *cough*

He has the rudest form rejection out there.

Birol
04-15-2007, 08:14 PM
I didn't realize my story was "inappropriate." I just figured if they didn't like it, they wouldn't publish it. Their website didn't clearly state that they primarily publish scholarly articles. Now I know, and knowing half the battle.

This is part of researching the market. Beyond the guidelines, you need to look at past issues. What have they published before? What are they likely to publish in the future? How does your work fit into that?

Dani Dunn
04-15-2007, 09:58 PM
This is part of researching the market. Beyond the guidelines, you need to look at past issues. What have they published before? What are they likely to publish in the future? How does your work fit into that?

I'm not trying to make excuses, but I couldn't find a copy of the journal. The two libraries I went to didn't have them. I'm still looking though. I will research further before I submit it elsewhere.

FloVoyager
04-16-2007, 05:19 AM
Not all form letters are created equal, and that editor (?) might do well to hire a writer to come up with a better one. At any rate, it boils down to a no, unfortunately.

File it and forget it, and keep querying. *hugs and chocolate*

Mac H.
04-16-2007, 12:19 PM
I didn't realize my story was "inappropriate." I just figured if they didn't like it, they wouldn't publish it. Their website didn't clearly state that they primarily publish scholarly articles. Now I know, and knowing half the battle. I think I'm getting better at this. Rejection hurts more than I expected it.Isn't it better that they tell you it was rejected because it didn't fit their journal, rather than have you assuming it was because your writing was bad? Isn't their response BETTER than just not publishing it?

Good luck - you might find this article on decoding rejection letters interesting:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html

Mac

triceretops
04-16-2007, 01:40 PM
Dani, Dear, don't fret. I once had an editor tell me, "I'm tempted to reject this book on the title alone. Permit me some time to thrash through it anyway."

Keep swimming, never give up and never surrender, 'cause today's the day.

Tri

Dani Dunn
04-16-2007, 04:07 PM
Dani, Dear, don't fret. I once had an editor tell me, "I'm tempted to reject this book on the title alone. Permit me some time to thrash through it anyway."

Keep swimming, never give up and never surrender, 'cause today's the day.

Tri

Really? How awful.
DD

Dani Dunn
04-16-2007, 04:09 PM
Isn't it better that they tell you it was rejected because it didn't fit their journal, rather than have you assuming it was because your writing was bad? Isn't their response BETTER than just not publishing it?

Mac

Yes and no. At this point, I probably would've assumed there were just other stories they liked better. I'm still kind of a novice at this, but I don't believe I'm a poor writer by any means. I do still need to grow, I'm quite aware of that.
DD

birdfeeder
04-16-2007, 05:43 PM
*cough* Ethan Ellenberg *cough*

He has the rudest form rejection out there.


Good eye!

AzBobby
04-17-2007, 01:17 AM
Some people get ticked off about receiving rejections that come without reasons, despite knowing that editors don't have time to compose unique responses for everyone -- so some editors have form rejections adjustable to common responses (sometimes in the form of a checklist) assuming that even a generic reason might be more appreciated than none.

I've seen some writers complain that very nice, but overly generic, rejections seemed snotty or disingenuous, as if the editor never bothered to open up the submission.

That having been said, if I were stuck with the job, I might attempt more tactful ways to say the same things. "Inappropriate for publication in [our pages]" may be a statement of fact referring to what they're looking for, but "inappropriate" is often taken as a judgmental term more akin to "unfit" than merely "not a match for us." "Overly familiar" and "more original" are judgmental also, while they could have said something like "It resembles other material we have already received" or some such thing referring to the facts on their side without judgment.

Or, maybe it's a no-win situation for these editors, even if they're trying not to be snotty. Someone has said more than once in this forum, no matter what forms are used and even if you get a personalized response from the top editor, all rejections basically mean the same thing and the only differentiations to make are what sells or what doesn't, who buys and who doesn't.

Tymolee
04-17-2007, 03:43 AM
Hi Dani,

I'm a little late in getting here, but I wanted to say good luck, and keep your chin up.

It does sound like a form letter, so if it's any consolation, other people are getting the same rudeness. Although that probably doesn't really help. :)

But... definitely don't give up - I've seen some of your writing (haven't commented on it in SYW - I feel like I'm too new for that) and you write wonderfully. I feel like it's a combination of timing and luck for submissions.

I just sold my first fiction story to an online journal. A year and a half ago I had submitted it somewhere else. I expected the standard form letter, but instead got a full on critique from 3 editors. It was an email they had sent back and forth to each other about it and then sent to me (I think in mistake - somehow it got attached to the "This isn't right for us" form). Like 95% of the email was about how badly I sucked (maybe I'm exaggerating but it felt like it!!!). My ego was way bruised - but I kept submitting it and someone finally picked it up.

Anyway, I'm sure that yours will get picked up too - hopefully a lot quicker then it took mine.

Take care and good luck!!!!

zahra
04-19-2007, 03:47 PM
Hey, guys, just cleaning out my desk - cos I'm off to Orlando in three days, woo-hoo! - and came across a really, um, honest rejection letter from a production company. It said that my characters were flat and that the dialogue was too linear, and that the story could have benefitted from a complementary storyline.

But she spelled 'complementary' wrong!!! I think I even laughed at this three years ago, but I sure chuckled today.

(Oh, and she was right about the rest of it).

You do get over the mean. Just thought I'd reassure us all.

veinglory
04-19-2007, 05:40 PM
Complimentary is one of those words with multiple accepted spellings that vary by region... just saying. I think it comes back to that benefit of the doubt thing.

Will Lavender
04-19-2007, 07:02 PM
Complimentary is one of those words with multiple accepted spellings that vary by region... just saying. I think it comes back to that benefit of the doubt thing.

I don't think so.

Unless I'm mistaken, "complimentary" is related to giving someone praise.

"Complementary" means that something goes well with something else or completes it, such as, "Your suit complements your wife's dress very well."

If I'm right, then the production company zahra speaks about spelled it right. I assume the editor is saying that the good idea should "fit" with a good plot.

PattiTheWicked
04-19-2007, 07:57 PM
Thanks. I don't expect everyone to love my work, but some of the way people reject us is a little harsh. I didn't realize my story was "inappropriate." I just figured if they didn't like it, they wouldn't publish it. Their website didn't clearly state that they primarily publish scholarly articles. Now I know, and knowing half the battle. I think I'm getting better at this. Rejection hurts more than I expected it.

"Inappropriate" doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. It just means it doesn't fit their needs.

And it's way better to hear that than to get a great big steaming pile of "YOOOOUUUU SUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" in the mail.

zahra
04-19-2007, 08:42 PM
I don't think so.

Unless I'm mistaken, "complimentary" is related to giving someone praise.

"Complementary" means that something goes well with something else or completes it, such as, "Your suit complements your wife's dress very well."

If I'm right, then the production company zahra speaks about spelled it right. I assume the editor is saying that the good idea should "fit" with a good plot.

No, she spelled it 'complimentary'! That's the point. I was spelling it 'complementary', because that's what she meant. And you're right, 'complimentary' and 'complementary' are indeed two very different things.

Will Lavender
04-19-2007, 10:43 PM
No, she spelled it 'complimentary'! That's the point. I was spelling it 'complementary', because that's what she meant. And you're right, 'complimentary' and 'complementary' are indeed two very different things.

Ah, I see. :)

Dani Dunn
04-20-2007, 06:48 PM
"Inappropriate" doesn't necessarily mean it's bad. It just means it doesn't fit their needs.

And it's way better to hear that than to get a great big steaming pile of "YOOOOUUUU SUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" in the mail.

Thanks for the laugh.
DD