Incorporated

It’s a shame—but not surprising—how closely literary magazines parallel the corporate world. Their dedicated staff may claim immunity, falsely subscribing to a romantic notion of purpose. But with colleges and universities willingly and eagerly adhering to market standards, triumph of the commercial…

Let’s compare. The first two responses below are from literary magazines, the third from a potential employer—a company.

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Thank you for your submission to —————— . Though we appreciate your time and work, we regret to inform you that it is not a right fit for our journal. Please consider submitting to us in the future.

Sincerely,

The Editors

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Dear Nathan,

Thank you for sending us —————— . We appreciated the chance to read it. Unfortunately, your piece is not quite right for us. Consider submitting to us again, though!

Thanks again. Best of luck with this!

Sincerely,

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Dear Nathan E.,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time recently to speak with us regarding our need for a ——————.  We enjoyed speaking with you and appreciated your patience throughout our search process.

While we were very impressed with your qualifications, we were faced with a difficult decision, and I regret to inform you that we finally selected another candidate who we believe more closely matches what we are looking for in the position.

However, we will be glad to keep your resume [sic] on file should we become aware of any other appropriate positions in the near future. I would also encourage you to visit our website as new positions become available.

Thank you again for your interest and good luck in all your future endeavors!

Best Regards,

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First off, there’s simply nothing tragic about having my work excluded from a literary magazine—any literary magazine. So let’s cut out the word “unfortunately.”

I regret to inform you that we have never been, and likely never will be, on a first name basis. Don’t patronize me.

I’m not so naïve, or desperate, to believe my work has any value to these readers. Hardly encouraging, especially given the likelihood that those very same words were doled out to any number of other contributors. Why should I consider sending additional work of mine—upon receiving such a safe, sterile, uncommitted response? I’m no glutton for puerile mishandling of my work.

I don’t submit, I offer.

Edmund Wilson: “It is astonishing to observe, in America, in spite of our floods of literary journalism, to what extent the literary atmosphere is a non-conductor of criticism. What actually happens, in our literary world, is that each leader or group of leaders is allowed to intimidate his disciples, either ignoring all the other leaders or taking cognizance of their existence only by distant and contemptuous sneers.”

For “leaders” substitute entrenched writers (i.e., established writers) and so-called editors at various literary magazines who, despite their prominence, remain largely unworthy of emulation.

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