A Few Thoughts on the Rejection of Rejection

This post may be ill-advised but I am completely burnt out on angry rejection rejections, those unsolicited rejection responses from writers who are incapable of handling rejection. By burnt out, I mean I am done. I have had it. This is pretty irrelevant in the grand scheme of things but you know how you’re outside walking on a bright sunny day, listening to music and feeling good, but there’s a tiny pebble in your shoe and that tiny pebble keeps digging in your heel and digging in your heel and eventually, that tiny pebble is digging in your heel so hard you can no longer see the sun? It’s like that.

Rejection is the most common thing a writer can experience. When it comes to writing, rejection is the rule, not the exception. If you cannot handle rejection, don’t be a writer.

I am completely burnt out because I take no pleasure in sending rejections. I really don’t. But I don’t cry about sending rejections either. I don’t feel guilt or mourn or dwell on it too much. There’s not enough time and there are too many submissions for that.  There are only twelve months in the year. We receive more than 7,000 submissions annually. We accept 20-25 pieces for each monthly issue and 60 or so pieces for the annual print issue. We have considered publishing two monthly issues so we can accept more work but don’t know if that’s something we want to do. More writers should be aware of the actual statistics involved with submissions. Our volume is moderate. There are magazines that receive far more submissions than we do and a few magazines that receive less work. It might seem like a lottery and sometimes it is. You have to send the right story and hope that story will be read by the right people at the right time. The difference between the real lottery and the lottery of submissions is that when you’re submitting your work you have some control over your luck.

We have to say no far more than we can say yes so we only select the work we fall madly in love with. Taste is subjective. What we love is subjective and shaped by both Matt and myself as well as our incredible readers who advocate enthusiastically for the work they love. We draw from all these perspectives so that we’re always offering a diverse, interesting range of content across our various platforms and so that we’re not simply publishing what two people like. This system works really well for us. We could not be prouder of the magazine we put together each month and year and we’re always excited about learning and growing and trying to be better.

There are so many factors that go into why a given submission will or won’t be accepted. You do have a better chance of having your work accepted when you read the magazine and, more importantly, when you like what we publish. Believe it or not, we can generally tell when you have a familiarity with PANK but beautiful writing is beautiful writing and when we see that kind of writing that grabs us in the gut, we don’t care about anything else.

An alarming number of these rejection rejections discuss how terrible our magazine is. Forgive us, but there’s a disconnect there. Why do you want to be published in a magazine you do not respect? What does that say about you as a writer that you’re willing to submit to a magazine whose content you find contemptible?

The great thing about literary magazines is that they are abundant. There is no shortage of magazines that cater to all manner of literary tastes. What is wrong for PANK is most assuredly going to be right for another great magazine. What is wrong for one of those other great magazines out there might be just right for us. When you consider just how many magazines are out there, rejecting rejection seems even more ridiculous.

In rejection rejections, we are often accused of accepting bad or mediocre writing from writers with a long list of credits. Let me tell you something. I’m lazy. In order to even view the cover letter in Submishmash, I have to move my mouse up to the top of the screen and then I have to click. I am lazy enough that I don’t bother to do this step until a decision has been made about the submission. I literally cannot be bothered. Only when a decision has been made do I read the cover letter because sometimes, writers send me personal notes and I don’t want to miss those and I’m also curious about what a writer has to say in their cover letter. People tell us the strangest, quirkiest, most charming things.  We love cover letters but they have no bearing on the editorial process. Why? Because we don’t give a good goddamn where a writer has been published and we don’t care about your being a finalist in that one contest and honestly we don’t recognize 60% of the magazine names writers list so your saying you’ve been published in Fraggle Rock Review means very little. (By the way, congratulations on all of that.)

This accusation is also frustrating because we’ve developed a pretty solid reputation of being open to new writers. I especially like new writers because they have fewer bad writing habits. Nearly every issue contains work from unpublished writers. We have a particular fondness for high schoolers who submit some of the most refreshing work we read every day. We could all learn a few things from great high school writers.

There is this really pervasive and kind of dangerous myth among frustrated writers that you need to be published to get published and that you need to know the right people and so on. Please remove your tinfoil caps. I will not deny that there are magazines where credits matter. There are all kinds of reasons for this, reasons that are both reasonable and unreasonable. At the fancy magazines where they receive submissions in the tens of thousands each year, it makes sense to scan cover letters for recognizable credits. If a writer has been published, for example, in the very competitive Cream City Review, chances are that writer can string a few sentences together. Managing submissions at that volume, with such limited resources, requires triage. Readers are looking for known quantities. Every submission generally gets read but people with solid credits will get read sooner, and probably more closely. If you can come up with a better way for a magazine to manage their submissions when they’re dealing with 3,000 submissions a month, let them know. Editors, everywhere, would celebrate you.

I will not deny that at times, name recognition plays a part in a writer having work accepted. There is writing and there is publishing and in order for magazines to continue to publish they need to sell copies and in order to sell copies, magazines need to include a few recognizable names because people who buy magazines (all ten of them) are also looking for known quantities. They’re looking for something they can invest in. Even when magazines include these recognizable names they struggle to break even, let alone turn a profit. At least when a magazine breaks even, though, they can afford to print another issue. If you can come up with a better way for a magazine to remain financially solvent, get in touch. Editors, everywhere, would celebrate you.

We think about these problems. We care about these problems. We try to solve these problems as best we can. We have not given up on the idea of sustaining a financially and critically successful literary magazine that can effectively and fairly manage a high volume of submissions. In the meantime, we do what we have to do—take it or leave it.

All that said, these sorts of practices are not the norm at magazines of this size and if they are, fuck that magazine. I mean, honestly. (see: the abundance of literary magazines).

Most editors are not thinking about writers when they consider submissions. Editors are thinking about WRITING. That distinction is really, really important. At PANK, we’re too small, we’re too passionate about what we do, and we’re too busy to sit around with our thumbs up our asses playing bullshit games. You can believe that or not but as long as you obsess about conspiracy theories as to why you’re not being published and why other writers are being published instead of concentrating on your writing, on your craft, you will likely not find the acceptance you’re looking for.

This is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I rejected a pretty good story yesterday, one from a writer who shows a lot of promise. This happens quite a bit because our submission queue is regularly full of high quality work. I’ve read submissions for a few magazines over the past twelve years and I’ve never seen such consistent excellence as I see in the writing submitted to PANK. It’s humbling and makes reading submissions a daily pleasure. You guys BRING IT and we appreciate the care you put into your writing and that’s why we try to do things like send personal rejections and respond quickly. We want you to know that this is a human endeavor and that you are appreciated.

Anyway, the first reader enjoyed this pretty good story and I enjoyed this pretty good story but neither of us loved the story. There were some real problems (as there are with most stories), particularly with the writing in the beginning of the story. We sent a friendly rejection, without feedback, the kind where we say we really enjoyed the submission and while we can’t use it, we warmly encourage the writer to send more. That’s it. We’ve sent this writer three other such rejections, I believe. We mean it every time we send this rejection, we don’t just send these rejections promiscuously. However, a friendly rejection is not a rain check for acceptance. It is not a guarantee. It is simply our way of saying we enjoyed what we read and we would enjoy seeing more. The writer responded angrily with insults about the magazine as well as personal insults.  If I got riled up every time someone on the Internet insulted me, I’d have a stroke. I got angry mostly because this rejection rejection was so out of left field. I was going to post the letter here but then I decided, why bother? That’s just an asshole move.  Nothing good comes ouf it. I’ve done it in the past and I apologize. Doing that was immature. I am immature.  I’m trying to be a better editor. I will note, though that I was referred to as, “Woman,” in a really condescending way, and the phrase, “You should be impressed with my writing,” was used. I did what I normally do when I respond to these messages and said, “We wish you the best in your writing endeavors.” I also mentioned I was going to blog about this and the writer insisted I not refer to him by name.  I am always amazed by what someone is willing to say when they don’t have to take responsibility for their words.

I’m not saying editors are saints. We are just as human as writers. Sometimes editors send rude rejections. Sometimes we offer unsolicited feedback though when we do this, we generally mean well. Sometimes editors make questionable decisions. Sometimes editors play the bullshit games that make unpublished writers believe they will never have a chance. I get it. But for the most part, editors are decent people trying to build great magazines with very little money, and all volunteer staffs which means they’re doing it for love, plain and simple.

You have to have a certain amount of confidence to be a writer, to submit your writing to magazines and publishers. Writing is something that is often very personal, something  in which you, as a writer, are extremely invested. As writers we work hard in whatever free time we can scratch out for ourselves. There’s no money in it and not much glory. Writers do it for the love, plain and simple, too. As a writer, you have to believe in yourself enough to withstand rejection, to not give up when one editor or ten editors or a hundred editors tell you no. You have to find a way to make sense of the business of writing when writing can be so personal. I understand why rejection stings and why a writer’s first instinct might be to behave badly in the face of it. There is a problem, though, when you are so confident in your writing that you cannot take no for an answer.

There are all kinds of stories about famous writers who have met with rejection. These stories have taken on a mythic quality because they offer us hope. They are a reminder that even the most brilliant writers have had to accept rejection. I love these stories. They buoy me when my confidence and faith in my writing are flagging.

Duotrope tells me my writing is rejected 78% of the time. That’s pretty staggering and humbling and it is a stark reminder of the ways in which I need to improve as a writer and continue to thicken my skin. While I have a lot to learn as a writer, I also have decent credits and prospects, I’d say, and yet nearly eight times out of ten, an editor tells me no. This is one of the reasons I blog about rejection on my personal blog, to show that rejection is not something you ever move beyond as a writer. In fact, the more your career progresses, the more painful and constant the rejections become. You’re writing (hopefully) is improving but the stakes are also higher as you try to get an agent, sell books, reach for those glittering magazines with the names of cities like Paris (Review) or New York (er).

Almost every editor in this world is also a writer and as writers, we know that rejection sucks. As writers, we do not have to accept rejection gracefully, at least not privately, but it could not hurt to try. As a writer, it is frustrating to hear an editor say, “no,” when we believe in our work passionately. Sometimes, rejection makes me want to punch something. You know what I do? I punch something. In my apartment. Alone. We complain to our friends when we’re rejected. Maybe we blog about those rejections. Maybe we vow to never submit to the magazine who spurned us, ever again. We’re writers. It makes sense that we might have a flair for the dramatic. What we shouldn’t do is send angry, abusive, insulting e-mails to those editors who don’t have the good sense to accept our work. That’s just rude and if our confidence in our writing is well-placed, it’s their loss. Send those angry letters to your friends, your lovers, your pets, or your therapists. Go for a walk. Take a deep breath. Get a grip. Take another look at your writing. Send your writing back out into the world. Dealing with rejection is all in a day’s work for editors and writers alike.

  • xTx

    Perfectly stated. Great post, Roxane. And I’m not just saying that so you’ll accept my next submission.

  • Lx

    I am in awe of what restraint you’ve shown with this post, considering what you received. As a writer AND a part time Jazz musician the truth is this: you must have balls to go out and put yourself on the “stage.” You will have bad days, bad nights, bad stories, bad gigs. But if you know your craft, you trust yourself. You move through. There is no fear of opinions or words. There shouldn’t be.

    • My first draft was far less restrained. Thanks for your comment, Alex. Indeed opinions are just opinions.

  • “There is a problem, though, when you are so confident in your writing that you cannot take no for an answer.”

    That’s not confidence. That’s a strain of insecurity masquerading as confidence.

    I remember my first rejection from PANK. Roxane blogged somewhere or was interviewed somewhere talking about how she gives a lot of personal rejections. I submitted and got a form rejection. Just days after she talked about taking pride in giving personal rejections. That stung. I was annoyed. It still sticks out among my personal rejection history. I submitted again and again hoping only for a personal rejection and was eventually accepted.

    I deal with rejection by making it a game, because it is. Also it becomes too much playing the game sometimes and I step back. My duotrope angers me right now because so many editors have been holding my stories for 300 and 400 day periods. When I feel like cursing out those editors, I just change that listing to lost, no matter what submishmash says. Viola, the offending listing is gone. Rejection is never really personal, but ruining someone’s day is. These are just some things I do instead of being abusive, which would be easy and possibly fun, but also soul-darkening.

    That story that PANK rejected still hasn’t been published, but I think its a good story so I continue to send it out. That’s confidence (or stupidity). Being abusive is naked and ugly insecurity.

    • I always wonder what’s going on at the 300-day mark in a submission’s life cycle. Is the submission lonely? Has it been caressed by an editor’s loving hands? Has it been forgotten?

      And yes, I believe you are correct about the insecurity. Or delusion. It’s one of those two things.

  • Tim

    This seems like such embarrassing and self-sabotaging behavior. How does a writer spend any time sending work out without coming to an understanding of how common and impersonal rejection is? Do you get this kind of response more from newish writers or ancientish writers or is it across the board?

    • Part of me believes this is some kind of joke. I struggle to believe it is real and yet, I receive this messages with such regularity that I know it has to be real to some extent. Alas. I tend to get these responses from writers across the range of experience. I will note, however, that they always come from men.

  • Word.

  • Whoa! That must have been some bad-ass rejection of a rejection letter to warrant (hang on while I count) … oh, let’s just say as a rough guess 2,578 words as a response. I don’t know about Pank-ed, but that dude (in young folk parlance) was well and truly spanked. What it lacked in grace, it certainly made up for in vitriol.

    These writers are submitting what may as well be their newborns to be judged and, consequently, can often lose their minds. The defenders of good writing and protocol should not, me humbly thinks, respond in like wise if this already charged process is to be made any easier for all involved.

    HMS HerMelness Speaks…Out

  • Hey Roxane,

    Thanks for writing this. As a fairly new editor, I often get frustrated with the downsides of editing (namely rejection). I think one of the hardest things is to reject a story that you like, that the staff likes, but that no one LOVES. It’s hard b/c you often cannot articulate why you don’t love it (and in some cases, feel badly that you do not love it) and any attempts at trying to articulate it will probably just make you sound like an ass. Often in my personal rejections I’ll just tell the person what we DID like (good characters! Nice ending!) and leave out what we didn’t. And sometimes I feel bad about that, too, like, is the writer thinking: Well, if you liked that stuff, why didn’t you take it? It’s basically a guilt-ridden job, isn’t it? And so, to get a crappy response back from someone makes it even worse. Sad face.

  • Thanks GOD! It’s great to hear this stuff. As a writer, the editor can seem like… I don’t know…the mysterious wizard of Oz, you know, a mythical person with the power to grant us courage, a heart, and whatever the others were. This blog post goes to prove you are the ordinary person persistently operating a console of wheels and levers behind a curtain, all done in a bid to keep things in order and balanced. Obviously, most of what I said needs to be transposed to writing for the analogy to work, but you get my drift. Like xTx, not saying this for acceptance. Just very refreshing to hear.

  • I’m fascinated by the disconnect between experiencing some of those pissed-off feelings internally after being rejected and ACTUALLY HITTING REPLY and typing out a response that includes the words “You should be impressed with my writing.” And then hitting send. I suppose 90% of being a reasonable/civilized person is impulse control, and it’s something we all struggle with at times, but still. Damn.

    Even so, I’ll give this person the benefit of the doubt and assume he/she is currently shamed out of his mind for this little blunder. We all do stupid things. (We just don’t all result to calling someone “Woman,” but whatever.)

  • Joe

    Thanks, Roxane, for the righteous vent. You, and probably most editors out there, have earned it. You’re being a bit modest, though, not mentioning the personal rejections you give out. I’ve gotten more than one from you, and the advice has always helped, so this is your rejection acceptance for the day. I will never cease to be amazed at how willing some people are to text/FB/tweet their insecurities into cyberspace.

    • We like being able to send feedback and it is not just me, but all the readers who contribute to that effort. Thank you, Joe.

  • Roxane, have you considered sending rejections from a no-reply email account? Making it harder for rejected writers to fire back a response might give them a few minutes to calm down and think better of it.

    • I hadn’t. Not a bad idea, but most of these come to my personal address that these writers find by going to my personal website. Where there’s a will, there is a way, I suppose.

  • Alex J. Martin

    I agree with Craig – editors can seem so foreign and strange, it’s lovely to have a larger glimpse into their, well… angst, I guess. Complaints and ill-wishes can be cathartic even if disingenuous, but they ought to belong between friendly faces: when sent to an editor they can’t be regarded as anything but obstreperous. Thank you, though, for the blog. That 22% success rate is a little boastful mind, :P.

    • I too find editors to be mysterious, even as an editor myself. I’m always curious about what editors are thinking. The success rate is a fact, no more no less. I have no idea how it stands in comparison to other writers. And again, I was focusing on the rejection rate.

  • Donny

    I’m the angered rejectee, and even though I ALWAYS regret my immature behavior, I see no good definitive argument in Roxane’s blog against it. Why is it wrong to react angrily and correct to bite your tongue? Is that just an opinion? Personally, I think people should express their true emotions more often than is the norm. Being phony is a choice, one that all you people in agreement can make for yourselves, but if the point of the blog is to convince me with logic that my actions were worse than just immature and uncalled for, but somehow morally wrong and reprehensible, then you’ve failed. It might be ugly behavior, but it isn’t the type you should spend your time condemning, and it isn’t the only ugly behavior going on here, is it?

    So it’s like a lottery? We have to send the right piece to the right person at the right moment AND you’re deluged with submissions AND you want suggestions as to how to work more efficiently or lessen the lottery-like nature of the process? I’m glad you asked. Make it less subjective. Come up with a statement regarding ‘what you’re looking for’ so we know whether or not to waste everybody’s time with an unwanted submission. Simply telling writers that what they submitted is not what you’re looking for (a practice all you journal editors have taken up), it does nobody any good. Why do you even write that? Is it simply because it’s the norm?

    And are you seriously suggesting I go out and ruin the few decent real-life relationships I have instead of bitching at the editor who rejected me? Sorry, Roxane, but if you put yourself out there as an expert in literature and request submissions and then respond to those submissions, it doesn’t end there. Maybe from your vantage you would much prefer the rejected go kill a handful of souls waiting on line at some gas station, but I’ll stick with placing my anger in the most appropriate realm and keeping it from damaging personal relationships.

    And you deserve it, Woman. Your journal has the same boring crap in it that all the others showcase. You’re all part of some hive-minded gaggle intent on turning all literature into dead art. Where are these journals that publish writing of all sorts? Pank is the one that claims to be most interested in experimental writing, isn’t it? The reason I sent you work even though your magazine doesn’t house one piece I can make it through awake is because I figured you can’t find what you’re looking for. I see no experimental writing on the site, in the magazine, so I send you what I write, which you know is highly experimental. I just thought maybe your mission statement was true, and that submissions hadn’t lived up to it.

    Yes, you sent me three personal rejections saying you were impressed with my writing and liked my stories, and then you told me that some writers have submitted 18 times before you accepted them. Well, it sounds a lot like sucking ass is a big part of getting published in your magazine, doesn’t it? And how on earth, after 18 tries and then finally being accepted, is that shit still so boring?

    And, no, I’m no new writer. Like I told Roxane, she was an undergrad the first time I was published. But editors are just so predictable and unimaginative that I never submit for very long before deciding that these robots will kill the written word forever, it isn’t worth sitting here typing any more. Doing heroin would be a better use of time than sending brilliant fiction to the uber-rejected so they can dish out to me what they’re convinced I deserve, because it’s been dished out on them so often.

    So long, Pank…

    • darby


    • xTx

      haha wow. dude. now i know why roxane reacted the way she did. you are clueless.

    • darby

      ok, if this is the dude and this is the sentiment, its just too hilarious to take seriously. submit to http://www.abjective.net/info.html guy, i’ll totally get into it with you.

    • A little disgruntled, yes?

      I’m no fan of the submission process, but i don’t take it out on the editors, as if they’re sadists sitting at their computers trying to ruin your day.

    • Okay, JJ.

  • I guess I never had an editor say “you know, I liked it, but I didn’t love it”
    Put like this, rejection (while not losing the initial sting, while re-igniting insecurities that you thought you’d expunged like 20 times already) can be more easily put into context. You can’t float everyone’s boat…

    • Indeed not, but I remain confident that good writing will always float someone’s boat. It’s a question of finding that someone.

  • Alex J. Martin

    Well I’m all for Donny providing us with some of his wonderful fiction that should have been published. Care to provide a link, mate?

  • Alex J. Martin

    Really, maybe he’s very good.

  • darby

    i dont know why you get so worked up. i wish more people would come at me at Abjective. i never get anything like these. bring it on!

  • Next time i get a rejection from Abjective, i’m going to be irate!

    • darby

      bring it!

  • Donny

    They don’t reject anybody

    • Reader

      I want to read the story.

    • Alex J. Martin

      Cheer up, mate. You’ve still got a degree of anonymity. Say sorry and go play with your mother’s underwear or with whatever it is that usually pleases you. Your father’s, perhaps.

  • Alex J. Martin

    @darby I have sent a complaint to the abjective gmail account. I expect a full apology to be published in this thread.

    • I really hope this is true.

    • darby

      Dear Alex,

      apology for what, retard. you didnt even send a submission so i never rejected it.

      Darby Larson
      Abjective – breaking mantelpiece bibelots around the world.

  • Professionalism is the one getting a real … er … sPANKing!

  • Alex J. Martin

    What truly concerns me is how you people have managed to obtain avatars.

  • Donny

    Yeah, you should be able to read this story, but instead all you’re left with are Roxane’s stories about sodomizing 10-year-olds and every other horribly depressing, but oh so flowery, submission she’s ever gotten. If you were sexually abused or if you’re overweight or if you know of some other way to make people feel shitty by describing your horrendous circumstances in life, send that shit to Pank. But if you can make people laugh out loud with just words and paper, you ain’t wanted here, you freak! that ain’t real literature!

    • Reader

      Post it on a blog and send us a link or, if you really want revenge, post the story here in the comments and then you will sort of be published in PANK after all! Power to the people.

      • darby

        great idea! i think ill go publish a story in the paris review blog comments!

    • hmm, digging through my mail and I find this terse, glum, sexually abused message from Roxane: “We’d like to accept these pieces for PANK online. Very witty and clever, which we’re a fan of.”

  • Then share with us, Donny! Let the readers be the judge of your comedic genius!

  • Alex J. Martin

    I bet you’re Don DeLillo.

  • Alex J. Martin

    If he was a real genius he would have framed his rejection of Roxane’s rejection in song, like this loser.

  • Wow. First, Roxane, you are as close to a saint as I know. I’ve followed your career as a writer and editor for years, and you are nothing but a giver. Donny, you’re really revealing what an idiot you are, by your tone, the words you choose to use, and your overall attitude.

    I was rejected several times by PANK before I got in. I’ve been rejected by GUD, a place I love, about nine times. My acceptance rate at Duotrope is about 8%. It is difficult to break through, it always has been, and always will be. If you want easy, post your stories on your blog. 100% acceptance rate. When you submit to places that have an acceptance rate of 5% or less, you have to understand the odds. If you submit to a place that has a 1% acceptance rate, that means you have to beat out 99 out of 100 stories. You could have a good story, a great story, the best story every written, and it still has to resonate with that particular editor.

    If your work is so great, then you shouldn’t have a problem placing it elsewhere. If you don’t like PANK and what they are doing, why submit so many times? Move on Donnny. If fact, even better, just stop altogether.

    • Thanks for your comment, Richard. I’m no saint but I do care about writers and writing and community and try to do my best. I’ve been rejected by GUD too. I love that magazine.

  • Donny

    One thing we know, Alex J. Martin, is that before you entered it this was at least a conversation that belonged somewhere above a grade-school level. Because of the cowardly internet antagonist thing you’re trying to do, I’m done checking in on this blog, done answering questions. Anybody wants to discuss anything with me or make any personal attacks, do it at shoehornman@gmail.com, but be warned, you lose all anonymity when you send to that address.

  • Now that the insults are starting to put on their boxing gloves, anyone who would like a break go and read this guy – Mr London Street. He transforms ordinary words into something more than. You heard it here first.


  • Alex J. Martin

    Underworld was good but your other books sucked.

    • darby

      see, am i like the only fan of white noise? i think i am.

      • Alex J. Martin

        White Noise was okay in parts, but it’s no Naked Lunch, which is really the only point at which a writer can start writing about modernity. Less zeitgeist and more satire.

        • darby

          wow, white noise and naked lunch literally sit next to each other on my shelf.

  • Somebody has to like it.

  • Was it Kierkegaard or Walter Sobchak who famously said “Forget it, Donny, you’re out of your element!”

    • darby


    • Alex J. Martin

      You’re too good, Mike.

    • Brilliant!

  • david j. keaton

    I was confused about Donny wanting to kill people on line at the gas station. i’ve been to thousands of gas stations and usually only have to wait behind one person. tops. wait, did he mean “online?” because people playing on the internet while i’m trying to buy some string cheese and a Reese’s Big Cup might end in tears.

  • this is a great post, roxane. and i think you are more than justifiably frustrated. i haven’t had a rejection rejection as an editor, and when it happens i sure as heck won’t be as gracious as you.

    all writers. all of them get rejected a billion times in their career. you suck it up. you send it out somewhere else. you revisit it. you get better. you strive to be better. you DON’T complain to the person who took the time to read your work.

    seriously. some people need to get a grip. this is not a grade school project where everyone gets a ribbon for participating. this is the real world where success isn’t about how many times you win but how you pick yourself up after a loss and conduct yourself with grace.

  • xTx

    I still don’t get continually submitting to a magainze that you think sucks balls and publishes the same old boring shit. Why would you submit work to a mag you think sucks?

    It’s like applying for a job you don’t want and then getting pissed about it with the dude who interviewed you when you don’t get the position. I would think you’d be overjoyed. “Man, I’m so glad I didn’t get that job I WENT OUT OF MY WAY TO APPLY FOR because THIS COMPANY SUCKS BALLS!!”

    • He’s on a mission to elevate online literary content, and naysayers be damned!

  • I am starting to suspect this whole thing was fake from the start to drum up hits for PANK. 🙂 Also, I think “If you were sexually abused or if you’re overweight or if you know of some other way to make people feel shitty by describing your horrendous circumstances in life, send that shit to Pank” is a really fantastic call for submissions. Donny is actually growing on me!

    • darby

      thinking back, i have had similar sorts of personalities submit to abjective, but its fuzzier than saying it is fake. sometimes people submit with a certain amount of antagonistic wiggle room. ive had submissions where i feel people arent sure whether they agree with the aesthetic at abjective, and so try to play it, like write something off really crappy and label it experimental and see if i’ll accept it, and then when i dont they come back and say, well i wouldnt want to be at abjective anyway, my submission was intended to exploit your questionable taste in literature. but if i would have accepted it, they probably would have been ok with it.

      but donny seems like he could have went either way, seems real enough, but if rejected, he’ll play the antagonist angle to the extent he’ll get attention in some way. he basically won this game in my mind. roxane gave him a post and now we’re all talking about him.

    • Yes! Time for a special issue. “The Donny Issue”: If you were sexually abused or if you’re overweight or if you know of some other way to make people feel shitty by describing your horrendous circumstances in life, send that shit to Pank for the Donny Issue! October 2011.

      • I’d so read that issue.

    • We should make that theme a special issue.

      • That would be amazing.

      • please Jesus God

  • I am wondering if it would be better not to send a rejection at all. I know that would make it easier on the editors, but it would leave the writers in suspense. The main point of the letter should be let the writer know that they can send the piece to another site or publication. If you are looking for constructive feedback then you should join a writing group, and if you dislike the publication or the editors than don’t submit.

    I’ve struggled when it comes to rejecting the manuscripts that I have I received and the writers need to know that it is not an easy thing to do for most editors. We care about writing and the community, but we want to make sure that we are putting forth the best possible content and you should be concerned with the same.

  • lauryn allison

    wow. i had no idea writers rejected rejections. that strikes me as such a bone head move. having spent time on both sides of the submissions fence, i know that rejection is painful whether one’s giving or receiving it, but it seems in very bad form to lash out at the community you’re working so hard to make recognize your writing talent, rather than your temper tantrum throwing skills. geesh.

  • Roxane, it’s interesting that you write this today. A few days ago, I wrote this on my blog about the same sort of issue.


    You put a lot more effort and detail into your response. Pleasure to read, as always.

    • I read your blog post, Amanda. The reputation editors get is strange. I understand where it comes from but it is pretty narrow.

  • Lx

    Rejection is not painful; it’s part of the process. Writing is painful.

  • Donny

    Is it any wonder that in a string full of obvious pseudo-intellectuals pipe dreaming of being writers, one conversation about Naked Lunch vs. White Noise breaks out while someone else breaks in to say, “Was it Kierkegaard or Walter Sobchak who famously said…”?

    Mike, does it pain you at all to realize you have nothing to say, and does it ease that pain to let us know that you know who Kierkegaard and Sobchak are? I bet it does. Compensation, no matter how measly, it must do something for the self-compensated, otherwise we wouldn’t see it so often.

    No, Darby, you’re wrong. Even though you’re quite sure you can read a person’s soul through your monitor and tell us all what I intended, you’re way off the mark. I did nothing for attention but submit a piece to Pank, and I didn’t even use my real name. I haven’t linked to other publications or tried to draw attention to myself. Wouldn’t I at least give up a full pen name is that was my purpose? You be wrong, yo.

    I am, however, happy to let this giggling frothy-mouthed internet wolf pack see the story in question, but I can’t post it here because it requires decent formatting, as I used some typographical trickery and it wouldn’t make sense aligned right or justified. You’re all so full of great suggestions, and I’m sure you all have blogs (since nobody else wants to read the shit you write), so someone pipe up with how I can post it. Also, a 3,000 word response is quite dickish, and I haven’t done anything more than state opinions. The worst insult from me has been ‘Woman,’ and it wasn’t used in any type of insulting context. I call men ‘man’ and women ‘woman’ sometimes. What of it?


    • darby

      “No, Darby, you’re wrong. Even though you’re quite sure you can read a person’s soul through your monitor and tell us all what I intended, you’re way off the mark. I did nothing for attention but submit a piece to Pank, and I didn’t even use my real name. I haven’t linked to other publications or tried to draw attention to myself. Wouldn’t I at least give up a full pen name is that was my purpose? You be wrong, yo.”

      people can satisfactorily receive attention anonymously. im talking about attention, not w/r/t like furthering your writing career, i mean like the kid in the back of the class who wont shut up because they want the confrontation with the teacher. the internet makes anonymity almost irrelevant in this conversation.

      you did nothing for attention accept submit to Pank. then insult the editor. then also comment in this thread multiple times, one in which you declare you wont comment again, then you comment again.

    • Does anyone else think it’s hilarious he completely missed the point of Mike’s post?

    • Donny, that was hardly the only insult in your response. My response wasn’t dickish and it spoke not merely to your response (something I’ll forget by tomorrow) but also to this phenomenon of writers who cannot accept rejection etc etc. I don’t really care what you think about my response though your commentary has been duly noted. If you want your story published, it’s pretty easy, given your talent and confidence. You submit it to magazines, find an editor who likes your work, and they publish it. Or you can avail yourself of one of the many free blogging platforms, where you can simply publish the piece yourself and share your work without us pseudo-intellectuals holding you back. Either way, best of luck.

  • Donny, that was absolutely hilarious. Your crazed rant made my day. I can’t stop laughing.

    Roxane, thank you for the work you do and that you can stay sane in the face of these madmen.

    FYI, all submitters: the golden rule of submitting is only submit where you really like the fiction. Journals that are publishing stuff that you hate are not, contrary to your egotistic vision, just publishing that crap waiting for your genius to come along and blow them out of the water and show them the fiction that they’ve wanted all along but didn’t know it. No, they’re publishing that fiction BECAUSE THEY THINK IT’S BRILLIANT.

    So submit to journals where you think the stories are amazing.

  • Donny


    I read your blog. The human brain matures at an average age of twenty-five. You don’t know what the fuck you’re doing.

  • Donny

    Thank you, Mike. At least somebody in here besides Laura has the ability to make me laugh.

  • Donny

    Darby, I’m done now. You have my word.

    • darby

      stop declaring it. just do it.

  • eireann

    This is so good. So generous. And so completely right on, from this editor’s point of view. Thank you. I’ll be passing the article on to my friends.

  • Donny

    I will. I promise.

  • Very nicely said–and it makes me want to read your magazine, so it’s all good 🙂

    (here by way of Eric Marin’s twitter feed)

    • You should totally read the magazine. It is awesome.

  • Margaret

    We’re being punked, right?


    The thing with experimental writing is that different people like different types of experimentation. What one person likes as an experiment another person may not like. A piece may not be to my taste in one way or another, but I can certainly see merits in it and certainly see that it took craft and skill to create. I used to get super-upset by rejections (though more in the “oh god I’m not a writer!” kind of way) until I sort of came to the realization that it’s largely a matter of taste and fit.

    I mean, some writing is just plain bad, but it doesn’t seem to have been the case here at all.

    I edited a journal for a while, and we never really got any of these rejection rejections, but I honestly think it was just luck. I sincerely doubt I was doing something “right” that is not being done by you guys at PANK.

    Also, as an editor, both then and now as someone who edits a micro press, I really can only publish work that I simply adore. I can’t publish something I’m not willing to fight for, to be the strongest advocate out there for. I have rejected plenty of well-written manuscripts, manuscripts by poets who are quite successful, who I hope will submit to me again, and whose work I respect. The manuscripts I reject deserve someone who will fight for them. If I can’t be that advocate, then that writer is better off not having me publish them in my opinion.

    Fit is also huge. As other commenters have said, if you don’t like what a journal or press is publishing, chances are they will not like what you are writing. Donny asked in an earlier comment that you (Roxane and PANK) post a list of what you want. By being an online journal you DO post what you want – you publish it online. I find that much moreso than a list of likes and dislikes, the content of a journal informs me as to whether my work has a prayer of being published there or not. If I compared my aceptance rate with journals I’ve carefully read versus my acceptance rate with journals I’ve only skimmed or have yet to publish an issue and I have therefor not been able to read, I am 100% positive that the first category would have a much higher success rate for me. There are plenty of journals whose “About” descriptions I love, but whose pages I simply do not fit in.

    • I wouldn’t be surprised if we were being punked but I also know we receive these kinds of delusion-based ramblings fairly regularly so there’s some truth in it somewhere.

      This was not a case of bad writing which is the main reason why its frustrating.

      Fit is such a thing. We purposefully don’t say, “This is what we want,” so we don’t limit ourselves. We want to be surprised. We want to read great writing. We want to feel connected. It’s not as complicated as it is made out to be.

      • Margaret

        Oh, I definitely believe that if anyone, writers are the ones capable of this level of absurdity. I love writers, but we are one nutty bunch.

        So sad when the talented ones are among the bad-mean-crazy.

        And yes, I completely agree – fit is not as complicated as we seem to think it is sometimes. You read. You feel at home. You submit (or just keep on reading!). It can be a beautiful thing.

  • Robb

    We are being punked. I sent Donny (shoehornman@gmail.com) an email and asked for the story and he never wrote back.

  • I really enjoyed this. I get the weird sense of deja vu though, as if I’ve read something similar before (and elsewhere). I think a lot of writers often overlook the benefit of research. Personally, I don’t blindly send out submissions. I have wonderful friends, however, who do — but that seems odd to me. Researching various journals and mags is great, and stands to teach you a lot of things: what kind of work the magazine tends to accept, what the magazine is about, what goes into a good piece of writing. And as Roxane mentioned, the acceptance process can be somewhat subjective. But for every magazine that says no, or says your work doesn’t fit — there are other places that will likely enjoy what you do. Not always, but a lot of times. But yes, my point was basically that any writer should really research the places they might want to submit to. It just makes logical sense to familiarize yourself with a product you are submitting to be a part of.

    • I’m sure other editors have discussed this rejection rejection phenomenon. It’s pretty frustrating for most editors. Research is, indeed, key. And there are no guarantees but knowing your audience, having that rhetorical awareness, it always helps.

  • So many awesome things about this. But I’ll just relate an experience.

    There’s this cool online litmag called fwriction review. I submitted a story. It was rejected. The editor wrote a really nice note though, took the time to explain why the story was rejected. I mentioned this in a but of writing on my own blog, and thanked the editor for his consideration, said that it was the sort of rejection that stung, but managed to feel good, too. Like you’re getting there.

    Point is, I wasn’t a crybaby. I just simply thanked the editor for his consideration and recommendation fwriction. And then–the editor sees this entry on my blog, which I’d linked in my cover notes, and long story short, I think I’ve made a new ally in the literary world. All because I took criticism and wasn’t a dick.

    Novel idea: appreciate the work the editors out there are doing, yall.

    • Fwriction review is a great magazine helmed by a great editor. Rejection always stings but sometimes editors do offer a spoonful of sugar to help that rejection medicine go down. Editors don’t even need to be appreciated. We’d mostly just prefer that people keep their crazy to themselves.

  • Damn. Typos. But you get my point.

  • Donny


    Your point is that you need allies in the literary world. Mine is that I don’t.

    • Not so much that allies are needed. More that not being a dick is better than being one for everyone involved.

  • Donny

    I got your email, Rob, and I don’t care what you want.

    • Robb

      But I said please!

  • xTx

    nice try Donny’s other name!

  • But btw–you want me to make that point, that not being a dick and making allies in an industry or art is a good thing–well, I’ll make it.

    Because it’s true.

  • Donny, i hope you haven’t left and stopped reading every comment or you’re not half the donny i hoped you were. send your now über-hyped story here…


    we interrupted our Flywheel staff mini-golf launch party because we want to read this thing. and we didn’t even stop mini-golfing the other day when Bin Laden was killed! there’s always the chance we may “like not love it,” too of course. but we’re very hands-on over here and tiny enough for the special attention you need. and even if you’re rejected again, you won’t feel ignored. this is the Flywheel guarantee. seriously send it.

  • so well put. i could never do what you do, you all have my deepest respect. especially those readers/editors who write themselves. i write and i’ve tried editing and i just can’t do it – perhaps i’m too self-centered (as this post demonstrates) or too vain (as this post nicely demonstrates) and i’m aware of all the work you guys do (not just you at PANK, obviously) and how much smaller my writing world would be if you didn’t do what you did. i take my hat off to you (the one plastered with rejection slips – i wear it sometimes just for fun) from berlin, germany. go, PANK.

  • This is why I love reading this magazine.

  • Thanks for writing this post, R. It hurts me almost physically to see mindless hatred and ranting about such a great magazine, and for such petty reasons. I felt personally affronted but I think it’s because I DON’T fall asleep while reading PANK every month. Please know I appreciate you!

  • People can be so fucking ignorant sometimes. It amazes me daily. You are beyond badass, Roxane. This essay is one of the many reasons why PANK is one of my favorite magazines.

  • Donny

    I’m not going to post here anymore (I know I keep saying that), because Roxane asked me not to. Just one point: There’s no hatred of Pank or any people going on in my head. Not at all. I think they actually try hard. I can basically see when Roxane reads stories through submishmash and she’s constantly at it. I think Pank is one of the best lit journals out there.

    And that’s my major complaint. Call me asshole all you want, but think about this one single point: If a story could be better told using another medium, as a written piece it’s dead art. Do you see how these stories can all be listened to as well as read? For me that’s a problem. If you wrote a short story that works better as an audio clip, it’s dead art as it sits on paper or as a Word document. If you’re using the medium of a white background and words to tell a story, you either do something with that medium that could NEVER be done better as a movie or an audio clip, or all you did was make dead art. Why the hell am I reading it if it would be better as a film or audio clip? because I like reading? Weak answer. The only correct answer is because it CAN’T be made into a movie or a sound-bite.

    I’m not trying to save literature, I’m just telling you all that most good definitions of art imply a progressive aspect. My story could NOT be recorded, could NOT be shot on film, because it requires the medium of the written word. This isn’t 1811, folks. We have movies and video games and interactive theater (digital as well as in a real theater). It’s not simply experimental to try and move forward, it’s a necessary part of any actual attempt at artistic creation. It’s either progressive in some way or dead, and all the journals look dead to me. That’s my complaint, that what touts itself as most progressive looks like a graveyard to me.

    Plus, this idea that people get teased into submitting over and over again to people who want that shit for free so they can sell it, and who also demand you come begging to them before you can give them your work for absolutely nothing but bragging rights… it’s all fucking backwards.

    Maybe I’m lacking in talent, but I don’t see anybody here besides me with balls big enough or a perspective unique enough to say anything that could possibly strike a thoughtful mind as even the slightest bit interesting. In fact, most people are just rewriting what Roxane first posted, but in their own words. If you don’t have balls like me, if you don’t do things with the medium that haven’t been done before, fuck off and get a real job already, cuz you ain’t it.

    • I did not ask you to stop commenting. I asked you to stop e-mailing me. Get it right.

  • Donny

    My balls are so big I have to sling them over my shoulders to walk down the street and it looks like I have tits on my back.

    (PS – That right there is amazing writing, you idiots! You are welcome for the lesson.)

  • Donny

    Whatever your wishes are, Roxane. I don’t harass people, at least not once they tell me to stop. I wasn’t trying to put words in your moth. You said you looked forward to never hearing from me again, so I considered that all inclusive.

    And fake Donny, I’m an honest guy so let me say that I was born with small balls and a big dick. Everything can’t be big down there, ya know?

    • Donny

      I’m not fake Donny. You are fake Donny. What’s your real name?

  • damn, i should have written something about my dick or my balls, two things i actually know more about than about writing, when you come to think of it but i don’t like to shove them into anyone’s face, so to speak. but, alas, i had not read the comments earlier. now i have and it was fun, kind of, to begin my day that way.

    it sounds as if donny wants to be published desperately but also seen for who he is. well, don’t we all. the first rule of good communication: if you want to be seen (or heard or read), make sure the other person knows you see/hear/read them.

    he can post his story at kaffe in katmandu which is about as non-1811 as possible and far removed from any magazine out there – it’s just a place. all he has to do is contact the maitre d’ nicely.

    we’ve actually been thinking about a mini-golf launch party. until now i thought this might be a cool idea, it being all 70s and 80s like a tarantino script. our other idea was to invite a bunch of russian robber barons and let them treat us to caviar and vodka – an idea that’s even older than 1970 and older than 1811, too.

  • Donny

    Honestly, I can’t understand what you just wrote. I was just coming to drop a related link back here, and I tried to read what you wrote like three times. It’s not the words that get in my way, it’s this deafening hum that fills my head whenever I start rolling through your sentences. Kind of like an old timey roller-coaster just gettin ‘a goin. Sorry, but I just can’t understand you. You have my apologies, Sir.


  • Donny

    and there’s the link


    funniest thing I’ve read in ages.

  • With regard to the original article: it seems that when rejection is the rule rather than the exception for writers, and that this is something that they have to accept as part of the process, the same rule of thumb applies for editors. After all, these are rejection letters that they are receiving, too: writers rejecting magazine. Unlike the responses of most editors, they are seldom polite, well-mannered, kind or sensitive, very often egomaniacal, boorish and written under the cloak of night, but, isn’t the role of the shunned artist? Were that it weren’t! But sometimes it is.

  • All you’ve said is sensible. I know about the diversity of taste from my experience as a consulting editor for a literary journal produced in the English Department of the university where I teach. However, some editors send rejection messages that produce a logical reaction of WTF? Years ago, I submitted numerous stories to a certain on-line mag that had a team of fiction editors, a woman & a man. They sent me the friendliest rejections I have ever seen, sometimes including “XXOO.” They claimed to love reading my stories. They wanted to read more. In one case, they said they thought they would accept my latest if I cut about 1,000 words from it. I did that by eliminating most of the local colour (painful exercise). I resubmitted. They loved the leaner story but no, they didn’t accept it. Another editor rejected a story of mine on grounds that she disagreed with my premise that all women are saints, all men are dogs. I was stunned by her interpretation. (I had posted this story to an on-line writers’ group, and no one else there saw what the editor saw.) I responded by telling her that was not my premise, though if she couldn’t use the story, fair enough. She wrote back to say she had no time to write detailed critiques.
    Writers & editors need a common language. 🙂

  • Kat

    Oh my word. It kills me to think that this happens in general, and to a magazine like PANK in particular. PANK is one of my favorite online mags both to read and to submit to (and get rejected by), in no small part because Roxane sends the best rejections I’ve ever gotten.

    When I first started sending out my work, I was one of those douchecanoes who blindly Duotrope-bombs places without reading their archives (please forgive me my folly!), and my first really great rejection was from PANK, letting me know the pacing of the story was a bit slow. I ended up reworking it and selling it elsewhere a few months later, thanks to that thoughtful comment. Now, every once in a while I write something with PANK in mind, and am occasionally blessed with another of those rocketsauce personalized rejections. I look forward to them.

    Hate to think of entitled writer dudes wearing down editors who run their magazines with the best of intentions. Love this blog post. Want everyone to read it.

  • Thank you so much for writing this. I giggled when I read your lottery analogy because that’s exactly how I look at it. There are so many great journals and for the mere investment of 5 or 10 minutes I can enter and possibly be published and freely benefit from the resources of that journal. And unlike the actual lottery, I actually have a chance of winning it. I’ve also reminded many people that statistically-speaking of course rejection is the norm and acceptances are basically miracles: a writer’s vision actually matching with an editor’s vision. As far as I’m concerned anyone who doesn’t realize this is either a rookie or writing for the wrong reason (ego).

    I guess since I have been fortunate enough to have work in PANK I could be seen as an ass-kissing, insider, cocksucker. Fair enough, but I will say this: I respect PANK so much that I ONLY ever send my very best work (in fact, this led me to the insight that I should never publish any of my B-game poems). I hear more and more writers complaining about editors/publishers who “aren’t personal”. I don’t get it. To me, that would be like getting interviewed for a job and then complaining the interviewer wasn’t personal. I’m not in the small press to get ego handjobs or free workshops from editors. If they want to do that stuff that’s fine but they sure don’t owe it to me. These people already work so hard for me and my peers, what kind of self-important asshole would I be to think they owe me even more than that? Ultimately, I just want a yes or a no. If the answer is no, I have two choices: 1. send the piece somewhere else or 2. try harder.

    I love PANK and will always send poetry to PANK and will secretly wish bad things upon those who go out of their way to bother any PANK editors.

  • LAST BIT OF UNSOLICITED ADVICE: If you send out a piece that you feel is 100%, not out of ego but because you have really spent time crafting it to perfectly meet your vision, if it isn’t 95% or 99% of even 99.9%, but a piece that you can honestly say you have given your ALL with, I doubt you’ll ever mourn or even care about any number of rejections. This is the power of believing in yourself. If you send out a piece needing the validation of an editor to tell you it’s good (if you need this kind of thing there’s a pretty good chance no words will be right, such is the nature of need)…than you should be blaming yourself because you sent it out without finishing your job. 100%, 100%, 100%; the rest is out of your control and not nearly as important anyway. The spiritual high of perfectly pleasing myself will always be more important to me than the publishing part.

    Thanks again.

  • Hugh

    Eh, I knew mine was crap when I sent it in, but you sent me a very kind response and encouraged me to try again. Then I felt bad that someone actually had to take the time to read my less-than-best effort and send me a nice note. I really hate you for that. >8-]

    Rejection is all in the delivery, I guess.

  • Maxwell Baumbach

    PANK rules. I’ve been rejected here many times. It’s an awesome publication that receives a bunch more awesome submissions. There is no shame in not having your work accepted here. I haven’t had mine accepted here. You know what I do? I keep writing. I try to get better. Other people should try that instead of bitching. When a writer complains to an editor, they should realize that the same time they are using complaining could be used to IMPROVE AT THEIR CRAFT.

    Love the fire. Keep it up!


  • phm

    I don’t think it’s true that almost every writer in the world is an editor. I’m not sure if that’s a problem, a plus, or what, but I certainly don’t think it’s a veritable fact. Regardless, I can obviously relate to this post, though I find those knee-jerk spasms of rage to be best taken with a hearty dose of laughter. As you said, you are thinking about writing, and thus it’s the writer who should spend time thinking about the rejection, not you, and their willingness to attempt to invert that only illustrates another area where they require growth.

    As an editor, and as is par for the course for me, I must suggest that you correct the typo “You’re” in the paragraph that begins here: You’re writing (hopefully) is improving but the stakes are also higher as you try to get an agent, sell books, reach for those glittering magazines with the names of cities like Paris (Review) or New York (er).

    At dispatch, we’ve taken a stance that the types of responses you’re referring to will be published as “Letters to the Editor” unless expressly requested otherwise. In this way, both parties win: we feel vindicated at the same time as we publish that ever-so-deserving (perhaps a bit sniveling) writer. See 3.2 for a reference.

  • Meghan

    i have been coming back to this post over the past few days, and i have found the comments and post itself very insightful, entertaining, and relevant in the light of some recent experiences.

    i was wondering- has anyone here (besides me) ever experienced an unacceptance? as in, a magazine accepts a piece and then unaccepts it a few months down the line. this has happened to me, and it’s raised a lot of personal questions about what (or whether or not) the publisher “owes” me anything when they accept a piece. what do you– as a publisher–feel you owe your accepted writers? is it ever acceptable to reject an acceptance?

    • Meghan


  • entire fight with Roxane can be seen by clicking my name. It’s a one-sided, brutal beating. She comes out swinging and kicks my ass for 12 rounds and here we are, with me getting slapped and spat on by the crowd when I really ought to be on a stretcher being carried to the emergency room.

    Oh, woe is me…

  • Ghostwoods

    Wow. I’m amazed at the utter vileness of this comment thread. Dear old internet, you never fail to surprise me with your moments of both grace and lunacy.

    I’m a writer. I’m a publisher. I’ve been several different kinds of editor.

    Rejection sucks, but it’s part of the writer’s job. Alas, my poor wounded ego.

    As an editor, I quickly learned to just restrict my rejections to “It’s interesting, but it’s not what we’re looking for right now.” Anything else — anything, no matter how friendly or useful — is apt to turn round and bite you in the arse. Hard.

    Working through submissions is a hard job. I have the utmost sympathy. People, taken as a general mass, are utterly mad. I’ve worked in high-street shops. I know what folk are like. When it’s something this personal, it gets worse.

    No publisher — books, magazines, comics, movies, whatever — is cavalier about new content. They can’t be. It’s their livelihood. There is no conspiracy. Take ownership of your fate, folks; writing successfully is a blend of luck, talent, skill and hard work. No-one is really sure how that divides up, but even if you’re a new Shakespeare, luck is still a major part. The knocks are not personal.

    Please believe it, and give the poor, harried submissions eds a break.

  • Tallergirl

    Im a writers of fiction, prose and features. Editors often ask me to change things. sometimes they reject my work and say do it again. And Ive never won any kind of creative writing prize. And now Im editing a proper magazine for myself and I see how hard it is to tell a writer theyve got it wrong without damaging their ego. And the writers who take it on the chin, and change, and resubmit, are the ones I keep going back to.

  • Don’t you guys think there are people in the world more deserving of your defense than editors of online literary journals? People get decapitated daily. So a few editors get called pompous. What kind of twisted person feels the need to speak up for people who read submissions? The poor, harried editors? Are you people fucking serious?

    I think it’s disgusting how you come in here and use any opportunity to suck some ass and better your chances at achieving what you consider a lucky break.

    Dude up there actually thinks Shakespeare needed luck to be successful as a writer. I guess that’s what you tell yourself when you’re sure you’re the next Shakespeare but nobody ever gives you dime number one for the terribly boring shit you write.

    Yeah, thanks for the advice, it was much needed, people. As if 100 people hadn’t already written “rejection is part of writing.”

    Am I the only one who sees how being the type of person willing, even eager, to simply rewrite the sentiments of another, even of a pool, in your own words is the most positive proof possible that the brain in question is lacking in originality? I will bet my balls right now, not one of you people who reverberated the exact same thought in this thread will EVER write or say ANYTHING that hasn’t been said or written thousands of times before you ‘ingeniously’ thought of it.

    What seriously needs to stop is all the repetition amongst you boring ass dolts.

  • and how many of you jackasses start with, “As a writer, publisher, editor…..”

    You’re a jackass if you wrote anything like that. This is a string in a blog column, and you’re trying to qualify your statement with some sort of partial resume. You’re so full of yourselves that you imagine us buying right into however you’ve chosen to announce yourself. Nobody would do that. Nobody is in any way touched by these ridiculous lists of faces you wear except the person who lives for the moment he or she gets to writer, “As a writer, publisher, editor…..” And if you feel the need to write that in here, you must not get a chance to write it anywhere else.

    I am seriously beginning to feel as though I’m keeping company with true morons here. I can’t see any of you, but I’m starting to get a picture here and it gives me the creeps.

  • Rose

    Thumbs up, ‘woman’!! (And I make reference to ‘woman’ in the most affectionately sarcastic way possible.)

  • i’ve been rejected from pank on a couple of occasions. as a matter of fact, i’ve never been accepted. i’ve never once thought to send a nasty letter to any of the magazines who’ve rejected me. it is hard and it sometimes makes you wonder if you’re going about the work in the right way. should i let the rejection change my writing and improve myself or should i trust my instincts and seek out that audience which will validate me? i love pank. i will continue to read pank. even if i submit one hundred stories that i know will change the world and they all are thoroughly and without a personal response rejected.

  • Good day, I necessary connection the administrator of this area! Waiting quest of an answer.

  • Great post, Roxane. Same over at Black Heart: we don’t care who you are, or where you’ve been published (if at all), but if you don’t bring your A-game, we don’t want it on our site. It’s exactly the literary lottery, and all you have to do to improve your chances is write better. Who can really ask for anything more than that?

    Also, like you said, we are trying not to stroke out by replying to haters. So we shut off comments on our site, and we just hit “delete” when we get rejection rejections. Life is so much simpler now. Haters gonna hate, editors gonna hit delete. And add you to their blacklist so they never have to see your name in their inbox again.

  • this is the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God.
    i’ve never got any retaliations being an editor at Metazen who often rejects, but then we use Submittable and so it might be harder for somehow to sling their angst.

  • Writing is like a passion and it takes some time to meet popularity. To become writer is not as passing high school exams. Writer is natural born person by nature.

  • vospoenas

    I have encountered some odd responses by authors confronting rejection, it’s true, I am surprised to discover they take trouble to actually vent their frustration with a personal response but I wouldn’t get too bothered about it. Let’s face it, writing’s an odd occupation/pass-time/hobby/whatever, 90% of the population seem to get by fine without succumbing to the urge to promulgate their thoughts the other 10% is heterogeneously endowed with success and talent, with no particular relation between those two attributes. The upshot is you have a bunch of barmy folk trying to make their way in barmy environment, throw the usual salves beloved of angst laden creatives, alcohol, nicotine, etcetera, you have a recipe for some frayed nerves.

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  • You are right my friend, We should reject the rejection by the way. Writing is not a easy job. You have explained yourself very well. http://www.recruitmentnjobs.in/

  • Rene Radhika