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11/01/2005

 

A Rude Rejection Letter

Kudos to the creator of this 'blog, as it is more timely than I can convey. What I have to say is on the subject of professional rudeness. As a writer, I experience a fair share of rudeness from editors to whom I submit my work, a thing to which I have (sadly) grown accustomed. This is not to say that I allow it to go unchallenged when I encounter it, and in the spirit of this blog, I wish to share my most recent reply to a group of indescribably rude individuals professing to be editors.A recent submission of my work to Flash Me Magazine was quite discourteously declined, and I have copied below the range of editorial comments that accompanied my rejection notification:

EDITOR 2: No. The only redeeming factor in this story is that it’s short.
EDITOR 3: No. I am sure there are markets that cater to people who desired to read this type of literature. The wall of a public washroom comes instantly to mind.
EDITOR 4: No. Wrong market.
EDITOR 5: No. Absolutely not.
EDITOR 6: No. There is another way to tell this story without using words like “fuck.” Other than that, the story is unappealing.

I realize that rejection, whether courteous or pointed, is a part of a writer's life, but I cannot abide unprovoked malice as I perceived it in their comments. And because I do not suffer fools gladly, it simply would not be Anthony to allow such undeserved rancor to go unanswered.

Thus I retrieved Flash Me's thrown down gauntlet as follows:
Dearest Editors,... [to read the response letter, please click on the comment link below]

Comments:
Dearest Editors,

I wish to extend my sincerest gratitude to the editors of Flash Me Magazine for their honesty in reviewing my flash fiction submission "Shades of Salome", my only wish being that at least one of the six had conducted him or herself with professionalism enough to offer an iota of constructive criticism (as opposed to the downright venom that flavored their responses). I would think six self-proclaimed "editors" would be capable of more than elementary school-grade meanness, but I find it ultimately unsurprising, given the bounty of self-righteous idiots I have encountered in the course of having nearly ninety works published by respective print and online publications in the U.S. and abroad. I imagine it must be infinitely more satisfying to efface the work of others than to hang one's own efforts out there in the wind and have them evaluated. Those who can write, write. Those who cannot tend to edit, and to do so with a brand of spiteful arrogance that they uphold as "editorial candor" (and woe to any person seeking to hold these hacks to the same standards of professionalism that they demand of their submitting authors, for that person is merely full of sour grapes over not having their work selected for publication).

I can only imagine that in the tradition of the person who sits right this minute behind the fuzzy, sun-warmed comfort of an untraceable online pseudonym as they solicit child pornography or post hate propaganda to online message boards, each of Flash Me's "editors" must have serious personal unhappiness issues at work within themselves for such utter disrespect to be the order of the day. I am truly sorry that each of these individuals has so little respect for themselves and for the title of "editor" that they have chosen a form of editing that is the literary equivalent of two-fisted masturbation. It amuses me all the more that not one of these dimwits had the courage to identify him or herself by name as they were hurling verbal feces upon my work like the intellectual apes that they've revealed themselves to be. Anonymity is security, after all.

Ah, the Internet. The Coward's Utopia.

And to those of you reading this who sit harboring the notion that these are merely the ravings of a writer venting his frustration over not having his work accepted, I wish to illuminate the situation for you from the vantage point of a professional. I am quite accustomed to having my work declined for publication, as coping with rejection is a significant part of what it means to be a writer. I have in fact, grown to respect a great many editors who have declined my works for their honest criticisms that were no less ingenuous for not having been peppered with insults. I have grown to consider these editors, these true editors to be gentlemen and ladies, every one, for their ability to express themselves with class and dignity.

A thing to which I will never grow accustomed, however, and which I will never allow to go uncontested, is having professionalism demanded of me by people to whom the concept is so obviously a stranger. Anyone can hurl zingers. Editors should edit. Those incapable of taking the time and/or utilizing the mental energy to do so have no right to revenge their personal shortcomings against people who love the craft of writing enough to make an effort. It is this, not the fact that my offering was rejected, that compelled me to write this note. And if the responses that my work garnered are any indication of Flash Me's concept of business etiquette, then I can trust with certainty that the reason Flash Me is an online publication as opposed to a print one is that its creators feared being publicly perceived as a toilet paper manufacturer rather than a periodical. I would invite its "editors" to think whatever they like about me and this email, but asking any of the individuals who commented on my story to think objectively seems too much like asking an elephant to walk a tightrope.

So in closing, I do humbly request that you accept my gratitude for your time and consideration in broadcasting your collective ignorance. I'm off to your website now to print myself a stack of your wonderful toilet paper before enjoying a four-course meal composed largely of red meat and dairy products. Please be advised that replies are welcomed with relish, and will be posted to my ‘blog for the amusement of one and all.

P.S. Let Editor #6 be advised that I wrote this entire email without once utilizing the word "fuck".

With gratitude,
Anthony Beal

I share this because I felt a great deal better for having not allowed the rudeness of others to stand. Some would say I stooped to their level. Others would say they had it coming. On the subject of rudeness, I can only say that it is nearly impossible to take the high road ALL the time. And as for me personally, there is no worse feeling than that of "I wish I'd said that". The time for wishing is past. When faced with rude individuals, I intend to say what I want. I find that I respect myself more for it.
 
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On rude rejection letters... my fiance was a radio DJ for many years. He would often send out tapes and resumes, looking for jobs, or just to see what else was out there.
He would receive emails back in response to receipt of his tape saying "Thanks." or "No openings now." More often than not, he received no response at all.
How does this help him at all? How about a few more lines in a response? Maybe some constructive criticism?
Thankfully, he is now out of that business and we can begin a "real" life together out of the uncertainty of radio.
 
I agree that using "fuck" isn't a good idea... but the way they handled you was wrong. It was insensitive. And it is something worth researching and writing about.

I do see that they have good points to make, BUT... why be rude about it?

And they do not know that there are people out there who would love to read what you write... even with "fuck".

Plainly put, they do not have any right to treat you this way... VERY bad PR!

It is understandable that someone would treat people this way in their personal lives, but you are not in their personal life... so they should quit before you get ahead of them and embarrass them by your hard work and your SUCCESS!
 
I think it best to just forward the editor's reply to the publisher and H.R. department-if there is one- as it is their job to reprimand unprofessional behavior. I would keep the letter short, mention positives that drew you to submit your manuscript to their publication, mention a few of your previous published credentials and ask if the editor's behavior is representative of what professional writer's can expect should they submit manuscripts in the future. This communication should be enough to embarass the company into realizing that they aren't managing their staff properly and measures need to be taken to curtail malicious behavior.
Don't respond to the editor-go over his/her head to their employer/manager!
 
I just had a similar problem with
' flashquake' I am sending a very calm but expressive e-mail back to them, but I must let them know how rude and unprofessional they were. I can take contructive criticism, I won't be openly mocked however.
 
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