Tag Archives: literary magazine rejection


BOOM! 300 REJECTIONS. Didn’t even take two years.

But enough about that. There’s good news in town.

I’m still gathering my thoughts on how best to express how I feel about the end, in some respects, of a long, hard ride. (And the start of another, no doubt.) But the news is no secret. Have yourself a look at the new page up above (the one in ALL CAPS). And of course you already know the news if you  follow me on Twitter (@courtmerrigan), or we’re buddies on Facebook. Why aren’t you following me on Twitter? Why aren’t we buddies on Facebook?

I’m going to post on my upcoming short story collection in intelligible fashion in the very near future. Along with other good news, too.

I’d just like to note here that these 300 logged rejections don’t include the rejections that flowed from my first bout of short story-itis back around 2003-2006-ish. I wasn’t keeping track of things back then. I’d guesstimate the true number is around 500. Give or take.

But whatever. 300 rejections ain’t nothing, man, if it gets you where you want to go. Neither is 500. For the last week I’ve truly, finally felt that I’m on the way.

Head on over to the Failure page to see the damage, though.

March Maudlin – Rejection tally nearing 300

297 rejections. Count ’em. Redstone Science Fiction says, “This was a well-done post-apocalyptic piece, and while it isn’t quite what we’d like, we definitely hope that you’ll submit other work in the future.  We like what you did here.”

Oh, I’ll submit again, believe you me. Meanwhile I’m stuck in the literary friend zone.

The others in the newly updated Rejection list had nothing to say their auto-reject form couldn’t say better.

Rejection update: winter is still here

 Another month, another crop of rejections, and meanwhile, the groundhog, who deigns to share his birthday with me, said winter was still coming. Indeedy.

Plots With Guns professes an admiration of my prose, but considered the story I sent them to be, among other errors, too sketchy. Noted.

Included in my postal dead-tree rejection from Michigan Quarterly Review was a nice handwritten note, indicating that there were strengths in the story, but not enough of them, in a row.

(EDIT: In fact the first page of a story, edited, did not come from MQR, but from New Letters.) Also included was the first page of the story which included some editing marks which, I regret to say, indicated a certain intolerance for complicated literary syntax. Also, I am not sure why a story that was to be rejected, was edited. But hey, at least I know it got read, right?

And all the other rejections through 2/6/12 (I’ve gone 10 days without a rejection, and received an acceptance in between – hurrah) are on the Failure page.

Rejections # 258 & 259

I did a rewrite for Pulp Modern but it still didn’t make the cut.  AC over there digs the dealing with other cultures but not the narrative structure.  He did invite me to send him more, though. Frustrating with a dash of hopefulness.

Hot Metal Bridge regrets &c.

The Paris Review: so close, so close

I was looking forward to having my very own slice of dead tree upon which my Paris Review rejection would be printed.  I waited and waited but the thing never arrived.  So I emailed the editors; they had this to say:

our reply must have gotten lost in the mail, as we did send you a note back to thank you for your submission and to say that we were unable to accept it for publication but remain interested in your work and would like to see more of it.

Jesus Christ.  So close, so close.

If this story were a hand grenade, whole battalions of the enemy would be lying bleeding on the battlefield.  It has now been rejected 20 times, by every top-tier mag I can think of; meanwhile, it awaits imminent rejection at 5 more.

Negative progress.


Rejections #203-209: Dirty Noir, Shimmer, South Dakota Review, Jobbed, Electric Spec, Black Warrior Review, Pulp Modern

Doc O’Donnell, Senior Editor at Dirty Noir, looks to be the reigning king of personal rejections.  8 full paragraphs about why my latest submission wasn’t going to work at Dirty Noir.  Eight!  That’s some fucking overtime, man.  Needless to say, I’ll be taking another shot at it soon.

Shimmer, damn you, continues to tantalize with another nicely worded personal rejection.  At one point, E. Catherine Tobler referred to one section of the story thusly: “This felt like a skillet over the head.”  I appreciate the honesty, and I can handle it, believe me.  Given that I’ve got 209 rejections in under a year, no doubt she’s not the only one.  I really like Shimmer.  I’d really like to be in.  I’ll keep working on it.

Pulp Modern ain’t buying what I’m selling, but asked for more.  So I complied.

My story does not meet the needs of Electric Spec at this time.

Black Warrior Review has read my submission &c.

Jobbed will pass.

South Dakota Review thanks me &c.

Negative progress: Rejection #200 – Boston Review (plus bonus Rejections #201 & 202)

Rejection two-hundy was a doozy: a longish personal note from the Boston Review.  Boiled down, they said that while the story was imaginative and inventive, it could be restructured.  Not sure I agree, but their point is well-taken.

This is the same story that has received personal rejections from The New Yorker and Shenandoah.  Negative progress, I like to call it.  Being on the cusp.

Someone will take this story.  It’s still out at 10 places (and has been rejected at 13).

Crazyhorse took 7 paragraphs to tell me that this particular manuscript (which, obviously, had no particular resonance for them) wasn’t &c.

Fantasy got the same job done in 3 succinct sentences.


Rejections #193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198 – Intergalactic Medicine Show, Onirismes, Dirty Noir, Smokelong Quarterly, Clarkesworld, Not One Of Us

They’ve been piling up.  Two more, and I’ll be at 200 rejections in just under a year.   I’ve got more good news in the next post, though, so I’m going to get these out of the way.

The editor at Dirty Noir sent me the most congenial rejection I’ve ever received, three paragraphs long.  The next thing to being accepted, really.  He encouraged me send again, and I already have.

(I should note that I once received a rejection from Flywheel that was just as congenial, actually; David James Keaton, the editor, said he was arguing on the phone with a co-editor about the piece.  That’s not only congenial, it’s downright heart-cockle-warming.)

Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show thanks me &c.

Onirismes studied my story, then sent me a rejection with someone else’s name attached.  I will say that when I notified them of this, they acknowledged the mistake.  Though they didn’t take the story.

Clarkesworld thanks me, but &c.

Smokelong hopes I find a better fit elsewhere.

Not One Of Us wins the brevity prize – one line that they won’t be using this story.

Rejections #192, 193 – Hayden’s Ferry Review & Onirismes

Onirismes sent along a rejection with someone else’s name attached, though the right story title.  They feel the story should be fleshed out more.

Hayden’s Ferry Review appreciates the opportunity &c.