The New Yorker Rejects a Story it had Already Published.
I recently read a very funny article where writer David Cameron “grabbed a New Yorker story off the web, copied it into a Word document, changed only the title, created a fictitious author identity, and submitted it to a slew of literary journals”. His letter simply stated that he was unpublished writer who was deeply appreciative of their consideration.
Every single magazine, including the New Yorker itself, rejected the story. Just to be sure, Cameron choose another story from the New Yorker and did it again, with the same result.
A writer’s immediate reaction might be ah-huh, those magazine editors don’t have a clue what good writing is. But there is no indication in the article that the editors actually read the story. As he says all he received back was boilerplate replies of “good luck placing your work elsewhere”.
And why should they have read it? After all, these magazines probably receive a lot of stories from name authors. Stories from a well-known author will help them sell their magazines.
David Cameron offers no analysis of why the story was rejected. Well I reckon most probably the attachment to the email was never opened. He was rejected because of his lack of sales pull.
But Stories from Name Authors Often Disappoint.
I used to buy speculative fiction magazines and still buy the occasional best of speculative fiction anthologies. I did/do not buy them because of the authors listed on the front of the cover. In fact, I often sneer: not him/her again, as I am not a fan of their obscure stories. I often find the stories from authors I have heard of are usually the weakest in these collections. The one exception has been Greg Egan, whose complex stories always intrigue and delight me.
Generally the best stories in the collections are from authors I have never of, as they have gotten into the collection on merit. They have survived the slush-pile and been enthusiastically endorsed by a number of readers. Whereas the name writer was probably asked to submit a story – and the editor did not want to offend by telling them that their story sucked. Besides it will get people reading the magazine or anthology.
So if your stories are constantly being rejected unread by magazines, change your name to Stephen King or better still Greg Egan. Then your story might be rejected on the writing.