Sunday, October 23, 2005

How to Make Friends

Mes Amis

Doug just forwarded me a reply we got following a rejection of a story for CSS. Our response had basically been that it was fine and there was a lot to like but it was a little self conscious for us (like a lot of subs we get it was trying to be tricksy and self conscious and a little post modern pulp which can put us off). We wished the author luck and also said that since he had a novel out we'd be happy to put up a piece about it or to add a link or do something. We also asked about the press that had published it since we didn't know them and we always like to learn about and support smaller presses.

A response came back which said, in a nutshell, that he had read our work and thought the prose was so-so, so he sent us something that was really good. If we couldn't see it it was our loss. Oh yeah, and since were so behind (we have been apologising for that) he's forgotten about us anyway. That and we'd "probably have rejected Irvine Welsh". We obviously didn't get this guy's genius. Oh and his novel has been compared to Chandler, Thompson and Goodis. He didn't say by whom, of course.

One of the things we do (and we say this on the site) is try to include reasons for rejection. We always try and say a little of why we rejected something. If you get a "not for us" letter it usually means we liked it but just couldn't find a place for it. We may be small but we have a plan for each issue and a set number of fiction spaces.

Oh and the best bit, the guy said he found our so-so story when he was "searfing".

Doug sent back a response wishing the guy well and pointing out we reject a good number of stories. I think he took the high road in this one.

Basically, I don't think its a good idea to send back letters to editors claiming that they were wrong to reject your manuscript or, even more arrogantly, that your stuff is far better than what they publish (or what they write, Doug wasn't sure if the guy was talking about one of his stories or one of the stories on the site). Even if it is true. Sometimes editors make mistakes, we accept that and we wish everyone we reject the best of luck with their manuscripts and dreams. Really if you make it big and we've rejected then more fool us. We don't care, in the end, though, because we publish what we like when we like. And when we offer to lend a helping hand with links etc its not because we think we'll make or break your career but its because we want to help in any way we can. Because we support writers.

And besides, what's the point in being an arrogant asshole? We're all in this shit together. We reject you because we *can't* publish everything we get. Its as simple as that. And when we give advice or opinion we're not trying to be rude. We're pointing out what we thought. Take it or leave but don't bother telling us we're full of shit. We know that already.

Au revoir

Russel

13 comments:

that girl said...

I think "Its my site and I'll publish what I like" is a better attitude to have.

I know how bad you feel rejecting stories too, you got enough rejections in your time to know how it feels.
Ask Doug when he's gonna elope with me.

Mary said...

Talk about burning bridges. This just isn't the sort of response I would expect from someone who is a professional. I mean really, the first piece of advice most people get when they start writing is to get used to rejection.

I think your responses have been very professional. It sounds like you guys go out of your way not to simply give a generic rejection letter. You are definitely on the high road.

Mikey P said...

Amazing, isn't it - the sheer number of those type of people there are on this small planet? Pity the internet was developed, allowing us to be in ever more frequent contact with them...

Ray said...

Look, I already went through this with you two, alright? I didn't expect my email to be broadcast on the fucking blog, did I?

I stand by my opinion of my own work. And I still say that my lipstick lesbian PI called Tits McGee will trounce all others at the Edgars. It's been compared to the BIBLE, not just them blokes you mentioned, whoever the fuck they are.

And what's the point of being an arrogant asshole? It means you always get a seat on public transport, that's the point.

Russel said...

Ray,

I'd pay to read about Tits McGee. Not a lot. In fact maybe I'd ask you to pay me. But all the same...

Russel said...

Mary, Becs and Mikey

Thanks, guys. It just amazes me that some people have that kind of arrogance. We got back a mail, by the way, that pointed out how little we knew compared to the "hard as nails" editor who was working with this guy. Apparently we should put more thought into our critiques. We didn't send a reply but both me and Doug agree that getting a reason for rejection is an added bonus. If the guy had written to ask us to clarify our position we would have gladly done so. But writing such an arrogant POS letter about how our own work is so-so compared to his genius...

Ah, well... At least a few people appreciate what we have to say...

Oh, and Becs - Doug can't elope with you. His girlfriend (and her cat) will not allow it...

that girl said...

can I elope with the cat then?

Mikey P said...

Ray...
How do you look in the mirror in the morning and not shudder?

Russel,
Ray seems an awful lot like a certain ex-flatmate of ours - any constructive criticism is either classed as an insult or filed under 'ignore'.

Russel said...

Mike

Uh... Ray's not the guy.

In fact Ray's one of the best goddamn writers I've ever read. Seriously.

He was, um, joking (Although it was a scarily accurate impersonation of the real deal)

Although I'd really love to see a Tits McGee novel... Yeah, Ray, forget Donkey Punch and give us the Tits McGee adventures...

Ray said...

Mikey - I DO shudder. Believe me, Bleary Banks is not a looker first thing.

And yes, I wasn't the guy. I was havin' a josh. But I recognise this character type only too well. If it's not for us, it's not for us, and no amount of bitching's likely to change anyone's mind. I'd actually say you had a lucky escape, you two. Christ, can you imagine trying to edit the fucker? It'd be like pulling teeth.

I think we've all had our hissy fits (I know I have - "CAL INNES? IN LOS ANGELES? YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR MIND! I'M NOT SELLING OUT!"), but you keep 'em to yourself.

And coming soon: Tits McGee in "The Dutch Boy Pulls Out"

Russel said...

God I could only imagine if we'd gone and done the full edits we had planned for this guy... he'd have screamed blue bloody murder... I don't mind someone disagreeing with us but you don't come across with a fuckin' attitude.

Still I think he saw only as a market and hadn't actually read the zine except for the story with so-so prose...

I should have asked him what the story was...

Mikey P said...

May I forever hang my head in shame for assuming that Ray was 'that guy from the email'.

If you feel the need for retribution could you wait until after Jan 19th 2006? I'd like to see my brother in NZ before I die... cheers...

Russel said...

Mike

No need to apologise - aside from the fact our guy's PI wasn't a lipstick lesbian (it would have made things far more interesting) Ray's impersonation was pretty much spot on. So take a bow, Mr Banks. And here, have some kittens to chew on.

Unless Ray was working under some kinda pseudonym...