(In)sincerely, the Editors

Scratching the surface of literary journal rejection letters.

GET REJECTED by lit mags enough times and you'll realize that editors aren't offering the whole story behind your short story. You'll find the first refusal rather kind: "Dear Writer: Forgive us. Every day we receive a zillion submissions, all of which are outstanding. We urge you to continue your writing endeavors—and to subscribe to our publication!" But as the SASEs you receive increase in number from two to 32, and your literary self-esteem suffers from each new xeroxed snub, you begin wondering how editors from Amherst Review to Zyzzyva can turn down your work using almost identical words. We scrutinized three rejection letters issued by local lit journals and exposed the savage subconscious that exists between these civil lines.

WHAT THEY'RE SENDING vs. WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

The Seattle Review

University of Washington

Box 354330

Seattle, Washington 98195-4330

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider your submission to The Seattle Review. It has been read by the editors, and it is with regret we write to let you know your submission was not accepted for publication.

The Seattle Review receives over one hundred manuscripts per week, and we were able to accept only a few submissions. The large volume of entries received and the quality of the writing make the selection process quite difficult. The number of manuscripts we receive also means we are unable to offer individual comments.

Thank you again for submitting to The Seattle Review.

Sincerely,

The Editors

the Seattle Review

Seattle Review

University of Washington

Box 354330

Seattle, WA 98195

Thanks a lot for wasting precious minutes of my middle age with "Bob Dog's Got the Blues." I read the first seven (of 50!) pages, and Joanna—unpaid intern extraordinaire that she is—slogged through another 24. Sorry, but I wouldn't accept a sophomoric stream-of-consciousness story about a Labrador on the morning of his neutering (not "newtering," as you put it) if the UW chancellor threatened to cancel my tenure.

The Seattle Review receives at least 12 creative-writing abominations a week, and we are able to salvage only a few submissions, not including yours. The large volume of entries received from people who can't write their way out of an eighth-grade grammar class makes this editorship—barely funded by the Seattle Arts Commission—unadulterated hell. I would lambaste that moronic philosophical debate between Bob Dog and the anthropocentric veterinarian (not "vetranarian"), but I'm going to spare our dot-matrix printer any more ink. Joanna asked in jest if she could scrawl across this note an expletive that best describes "Bob Dog's Got the Blues," but I told her to rest her wrist—she's the one who has to schlep boxes of the Review to Elliott Bay Books this year.

Please spare The Seattle Review your drivel, and we'll continue our quest for publishable material. Elsewhere.

Not Quite Sincerely,

The Editors

The Seattle Review

LitRag

P.O. Box 21066

Seattle, WA 98111

Dear Writer—

First, I want to thank you for submitting to LitRag. I'm sorry to say we aren't taking the work you submitted. We're getting lots of submissions, and while we'd like to take everything, space requirements won't let us. But I know how much time and effort you've put into your work, and can assure you that all submissions are carefully read. I hope that you have luck placing your work elsewhere, and keep an eye out for LitRag on the newsstand and bookstore nearest you. Also, I would like to encourage you to subscribe to LitRag at the low price of $12 for four issues.

Sincerely,

LitRag Editor

LitRag

A Journal of Poetry, Fiction, and Art

Dear Writer (whose name is written on this SASE I found under my futon)—

First, thanks for submitting something to LitRag. I'm sorry to admit I don't know what the heck happened to your . . . poem? Short story? Illustration? I get so many submissions to bring home and read at my apartment that sometimes, like when I flip the channel to HBO or my girlfriend charges in with clenched fists and mascara streaking down her cheeks, I have to put the work aside. (On the fire escape? Maybe under one of the Indian take-out boxes?) I hope that you have better luck getting published than I do making my relationship last. (If Diane calls me "scattered" one more time. . . .) Keep an eye out for LitRag wherever we're selling it these days, and I'll keep an eye out for your submission. (It wasn't that Mars poem, was it? I think that one's at my mom's.) Oh, yeah: I would like to encourage you to subscribe to LitRag at the low price of $12 (or is it $10?) for four (or three?) issues.

Sincerely Embarrassed,

LitRag Editor

Raven Chronicles

Richard Hugo House

1634 11th Avenue

Seattle, WA 98122

Dear ______:

Thank you for considering our magazine for publication of your work. After careful consideration, we find that your submission(s) doesn't fit our needs. Keep in mind that RAVEN reflects the critical and subjective tastes of the editors, and we can only print a small fraction of the fiction and poetry we receive in the mail. This is an unfortunate fact of life.

Please excuse any lag in getting your work back to you. We try to respond in a timely manner, but due to the volume of submissions, and the number of editors reading work, it often means a delay before we can return work. We do value your efforts and the labor you've put into your writing. We wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere.

Regards to you,

Editors,

The Raven Chronicles

Raven Chronicles

Richard Hugo House

1634 11th Avenue

Seattle, WA 98122

Dear ______:

We're so glad you considered our magazine for publication of your mystery story. After recalling what we heard you say to your date at that Hugo House fund-raiser last fall—"Why would I, a New York Times best-seller, submit to a dinky Seattle journal named after a bird?"—we made multiple paper airplanes out of your submission and sent them flying from one of Hugo House's upstairs windows. (My plane made it all the way to the baseball diamond!) Keep in mind that RAVEN reflects the critical mood swings of the editors, and while we once praised your novels, now we've decided your work is commercial crap. Karma is an unfortunate fact of life.

Please excuse us if we never get your work back to you: Last we checked, the paper airplanes were still in the dumpster, weighed down by an orange-juice-soaked, half-eaten chunk of Vivace coffee cake. We do value that you made the effort to send us two (!) endings to your mystery story; it makes mailing you a form letter even more rewarding revenge. We wish you'd hurry up and move to New York.

Middle finger to you,

Editors,

The Raven Chronicles

 
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