A personal rejection letter, sent to the literary journal which took 6 years to reject my story

Dear Pretentious Literary Journal:

I was pretty naive six years ago, believing that publishing my fiction in your journal was a desirable thing. I mean, you have a circulation of barely 1,000 printed copies, the majority of which no doubt sit "archived" in your editorial offices alongside your mighty slush pile. Still, I was once young and bright-eyed and figured that if only you'd bestow an acceptance upon my grovelling head I would immediately be thrust into the stratosphere of literary superstardom.

Well, you'll be happy to hear I recently received your form rejection for that submission. Such bold, daring use of scissors and decades old xerox technology. I especially liked how you scratched out "Dear author" and wrote in my name with a blue pen. And since this was a form rejection mailed SIX YEARS after the submission was sent in, I deeply appreciate your apology for taking so long to respond (or as you put it, "the very protracted review of your piece"). And kudos for the comment about having truly wanted to publish my story ... until circumstances dictated otherwise. I'm sure the hundreds of other authors whose stories you've sat upon all these years, and who received this same form rejection, thrilled like I did at your overly sincere words.

But the funny thing is that in the last six years my view on publishing has changed. My experience editing storySouth and running their Million Writers Award for best online fiction made me realize there is no point in wasting my time submitting to second-tier literary journals like yourself. You say you publish 1000 copies twice a year? Well, many online journals receive that many readers every day. You don't even have a proper website so people can order copies of your journal. What is with that?

I considered electronically scratching out the "Pretentious Literary Journal" term above and writing in your real name.   But in the end, I decided against it.  Because the truth is, you don't need a rejection letter from me.  Your behind-the-times attitudes and inability to handle such a simple process as a slush pile means you have already set yourself up for the ultimate rejection--failure.  It has been years since I've seen a copy of your literary journal in a bookstore. It's been longer than that since I've heard anyone mention a story, or poem, or essay published in your pages. You have made yourself obsolete. You have rejected yourself better than I ever could.

Truth be told, I'd long ago given up on that submission and assumed it went to the great shredder in the sky. So thanks for sending me the form rejection six years late.  It made me laugh.  It made me realize why I long ago stopped submitting to places like you.

Still, I wish you the best in your future publishing experiences. But somehow, I don't think you'll like what the future brings.


Jason Sanford