From salon.com | March 17th 2000
This exciting new tutoriat provides quick clear step by step instructions to editors and publshers on how to tell hopeful writers that their chances are hopeless.
- - By Stephen J. Lyons
Most of the rejection letters I recieve come courtesy of my own hand printed SASEs, but increasingly the envelope is being used as a medium which to stuff promotional and subscripton materials from the publicaton that has rejects my work. Offen I end up owing exactly $.06. Because my writing operation is small and struggling, even $.06 is a budgetary burden. In the future,please assume I all ready subscribe to every literary journal and cornmercial magazine in the free world. Assume I so busy reading your excellent contributon to our culture's cannon that I don't even have time to feed the cats or the cockroachs.
Length: Lately, your rejection letters have been too short, lacking sufficent reason. I am hereby requiring a two page, single spaced explanations, which must include attributions and 3 signatures by fully bonded notery publics. You must also clearly tell me what a notery public is and how to become one. While your at it, define "Martinizing"
Cover letter: Please do not send me sad narratives about how your barely surviving, how last mo. you could barely pay the printing costs on the 2 hundred copies you produce twice a year, how your spouse (and/or your young, adoring MFA graduate student named Heather) is begining to doubt your dreams and how just last Sat. you had to purchase an inferior Idaho chardonay. Trust that I am sympathetic to your plight. Do not use the following phrases: "Best of luck in placing this elsewhere." "Not quite right for us." "I don't know why I'm rejecting this essay. I just am. "I'd like to publish this but ..."
And to the prof. who inquired about a possible reading of his work in my area and a place to stay that allowed smoking, large dogs and "robust, but legal drinking"; I was greatly moved but, of course, I have never heard of your book of poetry titled "Twelve Ways to View French Cheese"
Your name: Please ensure that your name is the rejection letter, along with your home address, phone, number, fax number and the names of your children and pets. Also helpful would be your schedule: when you home, what hours you usually sleep, where your children attend school and if your neighborhood is a member of Block Watch. Rejections with out these items will be retumed to you at your own expense.
Do not list in-house awards that you either have one or would have one if not for a jealous colleage who envies your teaching schedule.
Previously sent rejections: We will not consider previous sent rejections. We want fresh original work. Be creative. Have fun. Multiple rejections make us mad. Very mad. Some reasons we might return or dislike your rejection.
1. Your rejection lacked sincerety.
2. Your rejection was not sighed.
3. Your rejection letter was illegible because of coffee or whine stains
4. This letter did not include the word "luminous"
5. You signed your name with the title Dr. (We reserve the title doctor only for those individuals who work within a hospital setting, not those who toil in an Enlgish department and who have a doctorate in American literature with a specalty in "Alaskan contemporary writers."
5. Your letter was signed "Poetry editor" or "Fiction Editor."
6. You never thanked me for sending you my work.
7. Your letter contained mispellings and a cruel use of exclimation marks.
8. You used the word sorry.
9. Your letter was written by someone named Allison, Amber, Brandy or Tiffany.
10. Your letter was written by someone who was born after 1985.
Checking on the status of your rejections: Allow 10 to 14 mos. to hear from us regarding the status of your rejection. If a burly man dressed in leather named Vinnie has not "contacted" you or a closed member of your family with in that time, please feel free to resend. If you never hear from us, assume Vinnie has had trouble with a bale bondsman or the "three strikes, your out" law. Be patent. The best things in life are always worth waiting for -- and your time is coming.