Wednesday, March 22, 2017

McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern Would Like to Brace You for Impending Disappointment

Note: Do you rely on a digital reader? Complete readable text may be found in the first comment following this post.

Hello,

Listen, you’re going to get some distressing news about your three-year-old submission to McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern in roughly a day or two. We at McSweeney’s would like for you to prepare yourself for the worst—not death-type worst, but the worst thing that can happen to a writer’s submission, barring, say, outright theft and loss of movie rights for a story that becomes the next Avatar or Gone With the Wind or Disney blockbuster animated feature.

The news is not good. If you take statins to lower your cholesterol, we advise you to double up. The next time you check your e-mail, please make sure you are seated away from blunt or sharp edges.

Sincerely,

The Editors
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

***
Hello,

Are you OK? This is a test. Had this been your actual bad-news correspondence from McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, it would have included some rather rough news about your submission. That’s coming, and we’d like for you to be prepared.

Sincerely,

The Editors
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

***

Hello,

How about if you go fetch a cup of tea, maybe prop your feet up, then go on ahead and open your e-mail again in four to seven minutes.

Sincerely,

The Editors
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

***


***


***


***

Hello,

Oops. Just realized that nowhere in our multipart rejection series did we actually alert you to the sad truth that your work was, in fact, being rejected. To be clear, when we said, "We are clearing the deck," what we meant to say was, "Nope."

Sincerely, 

The Editors
McSweeney's Quarterly Concern

***

Hello,

We at McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern are, as our name implies, concerned. We would like you to know that we value you as a human, and that the world is a slightly better place because you are in it, sending submissions into the ether and waiting, with ever-diminishing hopefulness, for a response. We’re feeling kind of bad about that rejection we sent, or rather, that small series of rejections. Are you OK?

Sincerely,

The Editors
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

***

Hello,

It has come to our attention that some consider a wholesale rejection of every submission (with a request to resubmit the same material) to be a poor procedure for dealing with a publication’s submissions backlog. We’re not sure why this didn’t occur to us, but we’ve been informed that we might instead have sent a respectful, ordinary rejection in just one iteration, instead of several. In fact, some experienced editors from other publications have suggested that we could have read, even skimmed, the submissions as an act of good faith, or that any number of grad students would have loved to serve as interns, even temporarily. Heck, a team of interns could have attacked our submissions and knocked them out in a week in exchange for pizza and beer or tasteful literary tattoos.

What we’re hearing is that there may have been a better way. It’s a notion we thought we’d toss your way, see what you think.

Sincerely,

The Editors
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

*** 

Hello,

Something else has come to our attention, and it is the fact that most people who submitted to us over the past three years probably have new work, better work, that they could send our way. Maybe requesting the resubmission of work that hasn’t found another home in the past 1,095 days is not the optimal way for us to get our hands on the best new writing. We’re confused on this point, and we wondered what you thought. Fact is, we’re starting to feel a certain comity, or maybe even a friendly acquaintanceship, with you. We were so close to your writing—the very best you had to offer of yourself, woven of hope and invention—and we think it grew on us in a very subtle way, despite the fact that we didn’t actually look at it. Please write back. We miss you.

Sincerely,

The Editors
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

***

Hello,

Uh-oh. Some people have noticed the excuses we slipped into our series of rejection letters. We tried to blame our long response time, and our ultimate lack of consideration, on our small staff. We’ve been made aware that a lot of journals have even smaller staffs and less money than we do. We could even list some of those journals, but, you know—the list is really long. Just take our word for it. Some of the best magazines out there have similarly sized staffs.

We’re starting to think we were just careless with writers’ work—again, the very best part of them, submitted with a great deal of trust and good faith. We’re starting to think this isn’t funny.

I think it’s safe to say that we’re starting to feel kind of sorry.

Sincerely,

The Editors
McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

***

Hello,

We’ve been informed that our brand is known for its archness and its love of parody, and some have even suggested that our unconventional (or, to quote our detractors, our “irresponsible,” or “impersonal,” or “cold,” or “ridiculous”) multiple-form rejection might open us up to the same kind of treatment we love to dole out. Funny thing about satire. It only works when the satirist herself is beyond any real reproach. At any rate, we can dish it up, so we’re sure we can take it.

Still, if you’d put in a good word for us with random bloggers, we’d be grateful. Just tell them they ought to go back to talking about the great pen-versus-keyboard controversy, or the role of meditation in writing, or, really, anything about their cat, loosely linked to the topic of writing. People love that shit.

Tell them we’ll do better. You can tell from our series of notes we mean it; we just exercised some poor judgment, and someone told us that everyone deserves a little slack from time to time. This looks bad, though. We know this looks very bad.

Sincerely,

The Editors

McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

10 comments:

  1. The following is a text-only version of today's post, for the convenience of those who rely on digital readers:

    Hello,

    Listen, you’re going to get some distressing news about your three-year-old submission to McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern in roughly a day or two. We at McSweeney’s would like for you to prepare yourself for the worst—not death-type worst, but the worst thing that can happen to a writer’s submission, barring, say, outright theft and loss of movie rights for a story that becomes the next Avatar or Gone With the Wind or Disney blockbuster animated feature.

    The news is not good. If you take statins to lower your cholesterol, we advise you to double up. The next time you check your e-mail, please make sure you are seated away from blunt or sharp edges.

    Sincerely,

    The Editors
    McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

    ***
    Hello,

    Are you OK? This is a test. Had this been your actual bad-news correspondence from McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, it would have included some rather rough news about your submission. That’s coming, and we’d like for you to be prepared.

    Sincerely,

    The Editors
    McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

    ***

    Hello,

    How about if you go fetch a cup of tea, maybe prop your feet up, then go on ahead and open your e-mail again in four to seven minutes.

    Sincerely,

    The Editors
    McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,

      My name is XXXXX and I am wrting you as the new Executive Director at McSweeney’s.

      I know it’s been quite some time since you’ve received word from us about your Quarterly submission, and I want to apologize for that. Our staff is quite small and the Quarterly was on a long (too long!) hiatus.

      I am excited to announce that we sent our 49th issue to the press and subscribers will receive their copy in the next six weeks.

      We’ll also reopen our submissions very, very soon!

      Please note that you will soon receive a rejection notice for your former submission. We highly encourage you to resubmit in April if you are still interested.

      Plese do expect a wait time of 4-6 weeks while we get back up to speed.

      Thank you so much for your interest in McSweeney’s! I hope to hear more from you soon.

      With kind regards,

      XXXXX

      ***

      Hello again,

      Because so many have already asked, please allow me to clarify:

      The impending rejection is merely an administrative necessity to re-open submissions and allow those still interested to submit again (or submit a newer piece) in April. It is in no way an indication of merit or interest in the piece. I do apologize if that was unclear.

      Please feel free to ask more questions. We’re deeply interested in reading your work!

      Hope this helps,

      XXXXX

      ***

      Delete
    2. Hello! Hopefully you’ve received two previous emails from our new Executive Director regarding this administrative-only rejection.

      We are happy to announce that the Quarterly is back after a very long hiatus, and submissions will reopen in April.

      Due to the extended period time (sic) since you’ve submitted, we are clearing the deck and encouraging you to submit this piece again (or another piece if you prefer).

      Submission readings will begin in mid-April and it may take 4-6 weeks to receive a response. Our apologies in advance - we’re only four people!

      Ever yours,
      the McSweeney’s crew


      ***

      Hello,

      We at McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern are, as our name implies, concerned. We would like you to know that we value you as a human, and that the world is a slightly better place because you are in it, sending submissions into the ether and waiting, with ever-diminishing hopefulness, for a response. We’re feeling kind of bad about that rejection we sent, or rather, that small series of rejections. Are you OK?

      Sincerely,

      The Editors
      McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

      ***

      Delete
    3. Hello,

      It has come to our attention that some consider a wholesale rejection of every submission (with a request to resubmit the same material) to be a poor procedure for dealing with a publication’s submissions backlog. We’re not sure why this didn’t occur to us, but we’ve been informed that we might instead have sent a respectful, ordinary rejection in just one iteration, instead of several. In fact, some experienced editors from other publications have suggested that we could have read, even skimmed, the submissions as an act of good faith, or that any number of grad students would have loved to serve as interns, even temporarily. Heck, a team of interns could have attacked our submissions and knocked them out in a week in exchange for pizza and beer or tasteful literary tattoos.

      What we’re hearing is that there may have been a better way. It’s a notion we thought we’d toss your way, see what you think.

      Sincerely,

      The Editors
      McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

      ***

      Hello,

      Something else has come to our attention, and it is the fact that most people who submitted to us over the past three years probably have new work, better work, that they could send our way. Maybe requesting the resubmission of work that hasn’t found another home in the past 1,095 days is not the optimal way for us to get our hands on the best new writing. We’re confused on this point, and we wondered what you thought. Fact is, we’re starting to feel a certain comity, or maybe even a friendly acquaintanceship, with you. We were so close to your writing—the very best you had to offer of yourself, woven of hope and invention—and we think it grew on us in a very subtle way, despite the fact that we didn’t actually look at it. Please write back. We miss you.

      Sincerely,

      The Editors
      McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

      ***

      Hello,

      Uh-oh. Some people have noticed the excuses we slipped into our series of rejection letters. We tried to blame our long response time, and our ultimate lack of consideration, on our small staff. We’ve been made aware that a lot of journals have even smaller staffs and less money than we do. We could even list some of those journals, but, you know—the list is really long. Just take our word for it. Some of the best magazines out there have similarly sized staffs.

      We’re starting to think we were just careless with writers’ work—again, the very best part of them, submitted with a great deal of trust and good faith. We’re starting to think this isn’t funny.

      I think it’s safe to say that we’re starting to feel kind of sorry.

      Sincerely,

      The Editors
      McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

      Delete
    4. Hello,

      We’ve been informed that our brand is known for its archness and its love of parody, and some have even suggested that our unconventional (or, to quote our detractors, our “irresponsible,” or “impersonal,” or “cold,” or “ridiculous”) multiple-form rejection might open us up to the same kind of treatment we love to dole out. Funny thing about satire. It only works when the satirist herself is beyond any real reproach. At any rate, we can dish it up, so we’re sure we can take it.

      Still, if you’d put in a good word for us with random bloggers, we’d be grateful. Just tell them they ought to go back to talking about the great pen-versus-keyboard controversy, or the role of meditation in writing, or, really, anything about their cat, loosely linked to the topic of writing. People love that shit.

      Tell them we’ll do better. You can tell from our series of notes we mean it; we just exercised some poor judgment, and someone told us that everyone deserves a little slack from time to time. This looks bad, though. We know this looks very bad.

      Sincerely,

      The Editors
      McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern

      Delete
  2. Thanks for the laugh, this was a wonderful response to those ridiculous emails.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! We all make mistakes, and I don't mean to beat up on them TOO badly. Using a page from their own playbook to critique a very odd move. :)

      Delete
  3. In a few minutes I'm going to write you an actual comment that will knock your socks off. You might want to sit down and remove your socks as a cautionary measure to prevent injury.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was hilarious and it's hard to believe that the three-part rejection notices were real and not a parody piece from the magazine. You hit the tone perfectly with your additions to the series. Brava!

    ReplyDelete