Thank You; No Thank You
An in-depth rejection letter from Hooligan Review
Welcome to our weekly column offering perspectives on lit mag publishing, with contributions from readers, writers and editors everywhere.
By Max Talley
Thank you for entrusting Hooligan Review with your work. Few trust us with anything. We enjoyed this piece thoroughly, but after careful consideration we could not fit it into our current issue. We tried, with smaller fonts, slender margins, and even a shoehorn. Damn thing would not squeeze in.
Our editors read your story several times, as we often do with work we plan to reject, and found much to admire. Primarily the indents and space breaks. Masterful. Your piece reminded us of stories we published years ago when people called us fearless, before the desperation for endowment grants and ultra-sensitivity dictated our choices. Some of our staff raved about the writing. Unfortunately, they no longer work here. We love your voice. However, this is not a podcast. Still, we did hear full-throated snippets of you on YouTube and think you may have a future in broadcast radio.
Please don't give up, at least not right away. Journals like ours depend on your submission fees. Somebody has to win the lottery, right? These matters are subjective. We know nothing. Less than nothing. Sure we have MFAs up the yin-yang, but we're working at a freaking lit journal not being awarded the Pulitzer Prize. And remember, we're all writers too. Really, really desperate writers.
There are measures we take to keep our selection process just. To insure fairness, we utilize a blind submission policy. Our first readers are literally blind. They don't know who you are; we don't know who they are, and we aim to keep it that way. Totally random. They just pick by guessing, and do you really think anyone in the publishing industry acts differently?
Although you didn't make the final cut, we would like to offer a 5% discount on our $60 annual subscription rate, so that you can read all the excellent stories we accepted not written by you.
Since you may be wondering amid these compliments, what exactly we didn't like, one of our editors was offended by your use of the word “homeless”, even though you were clearly referring to your own current status as a broke writer. As you may know, that term is on NPR's list of banned words. Being a lit journal attached to a university, it is essential that we remain woke at all times, even when asleep.
Another editor counted five adverbs in your story. Someone at some writers conference somewhere once said: “Kill your darlings, kill your adverbs, kill your family members,” just before they were carried off and institutionalized. It pains us to admit that a small cabal of similar know-it-alls runs the literary world. So now every writer must use a spare style like Hemingway or Raymond Carver, but without the white male part.
In closing, though there is much to admire in your work, we can't use your piece at this time. During other times, like the Renaissance, the Industrial Age, or the Cold War however, we would have been fighting, literally begging to print your damn story.
We wish you the best of luck finding a home for your writing elsewhere—in a galaxy far, far away. Feel free to submit to Hooligan Review again in our $15 Expedited Rejection category. Why wait six months for the bad news and letters like this?
Cheers! - Hooligan Editors
Max Talley was born in New York City and lives in Southern California. His writing has appeared in numerous journals, including Vol.1 Brooklyn, Atticus Review, Bridge Eight, Santa Fe Literary Review, and Litro. He won the 2021 best fiction contest in Jerry Jazz Musician for “Celestial Vagabonds,” later nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Talley's crime novel, Santa Fe Psychosis, was just published by Dark Edge Press and his story collection, My Secret Place, is forthcoming in fall from Main Street Rag Books. www.maxdevoetalley.com
This piece originally appeared in The Opiate.
Lit Mag News Roundup is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.