Vanity publishing - Desperate for a rejection slip
Help Wanted - Desperate for a rejection slip!
"Doing one's best to get a rejection slip. (vanity, vanity all is
The truth about us poets, who share our writing with others, and even
if some tell you otherwise, is that ultimately we do enjoy positive
feedback about our writing! If I had just a pound or a dollar for every
individual who has 'secretly confided in me' that they were thrilled
their poem had been accepted by publisher x,y,z, I could spend the rest
of my life writing everything for free. Overall, my experience is that
very few publishers, who accept a submitted poem, respond with a
lengthy letter overflowing with 'flattery'.
It was few years ago when I first received a letter from someone
excitedly telling me they had received such a letter, and they also
went to the trouble of sending me a photocopy of the
Everyone has to start somewhere and I was naive about who was who in
the poetry publishing market. In fact I was living in England at the
time and had never heard of the 'publisher' in question. But there was
something VERY suspicious about this acceptance letter. Having said
that, I am very suspicious of any 'form letter' - namely a standard
letter which has probably never been touched by a human hand. My
suspicions were quickly confirmed when the same publisher's name
cropped up several more times in quick succession, and I then managed
to obtain copies from the various jubilant poets.
And let's face it, what novice wouldn't be thrilled to receive a letter
starting "After carefully reading and discussing your poem, our
Selection Committee has certified your poem as a semi-finalist....."
And there's more: "In celebration of the unique talent that you have
displayed, we also wish to publish your poem in what promises to be one
of the most highly sought after collections we have ever promised
In fact a novice's head could easily swoon, and their chest burst with
pride when told, "Before we go any further, (poets name inserted), let
me make one thing clear ... your poem was selected for publication, and
as a contest semi-finalist, on the basis of your unique talent and
Several years down the line I am amassing a wonderful collection of
these letters. Courtesy of some 'interesting characters' who came to my
assistance in an interesting experiment. Their names include: Stephen
AbutLOL, Wadda (ass) Iyam, and the most recent, Wergle Flomp. These
characters discovered that with the wonders of the Internet, the
'publishing company' whose 'Selection Committee carefully reads and
discusses' all the submissions, now accepts submission at their website
It was a curiosity on my part as to how 'awful' a poem has to be before
a letter is issued along the lines of "Thanks for your submission
but.... NO THANKS!"
Stephen AbutLOL's first attempt to fail the acceptance test with "Wots
a pome", was abysmal. When I shared this experiment with my readers in
the UK poetry magazine (Poetry Now), one reader commented that perhaps
it was not awful enough because the first four lines had a vague
'rhythm and rhyme' to it!:
Wot's a pome if it don't rhyme
have to make it beat with time
Very serious stuff is pomes
you can write them in your homes.
Hmm back to the drawing board, and not to be thwarted, Stephen's second
attempt was expected to draw a letter along the lines of "If you
continue to submit drivel like this, we shall have to seek a
restraining order." Unfortunately, he failed again and received great
acclaim for "Nicky Nacky Noo"
Nicky Nacky Noo
Tum tum tum de tum
This is apoem I sings a lot
to make me very vary hapy.
I fink it will look good on a poster two.
and a cofey mug to shows my frineds
at work so they no i am an internashunal
poet who mite even winz a prise!
Then i wuld be vary famus
and hav lotz of muney
wich wuld be vary funny
coz some of them sayd I was
eliterite wich sucks
(I hopes I can say sucks, if not
please put a defferent word instead.)
and also I just sore the poem
has to be 20 lines long so
I am counting the lynes again.
This is line nienteen
and this in number twenty. Thanx. The End
Unfortunately the seeking of clarification as to whether or not he
could use the word 'sucks' somehow was considered to be part of the
poem too. And there they are on full display amongst the searchable
database of all 1.4 million submissions which can be checked through at
This was proving to be a tough competition indeed! How to bring the
'Selection Committee' to a collective outburst of outrage rather than
praise and admiration!
Next up to the plate steps Wadda ass Iyam (although the acceptance
letter does not recognise or acknowledge Wadda's middle name).
Yew Gotta Larf.
Yew gotta larf at any moreon
who could write, "your poem was selected
for publication, and as a contest semi-finalist, on the basis of your
and artistic vision."
when we all know this is about as artistic
as vomitting on the neigbour's porch.
Burp... huey... excuse me while I be artistic on your cat.. so much
the vision.. I never saw your cat.
Now let's get down to the real truth..
You hope I am fooled into parting with
my cash to see this in your anthology.
Wot if NO-ONE bought your books, mugs
plaques, keyrings? (have you thought of musical toilet-roll
I look forward to receiving your standard letter telling me how
artistic this drivel is. If nothing else, I get a free envelope
which I can recycle.
This had to be the one that broke the poetic back, don't you think?
Under his pen name 'Bert' was counting on one of the 'Selection
Committee' being an avid cat lover, whereby Bert could be rightfully
accused of encouraging animal abuse! Not a chance. Wadda now proudly
stands toe to toe with Stephen, and "Yew Gotta larf" is also on proud
display for the whole cyber world to admire!
It was with some disappointment today, Wergle Flomp received a letter
from poetry.com for his poem:
flobble bobble blop
yim yam widdley woooo
yip yip yip
nish-nash nockle nockle
opfem magurby voey
Ahh! "Wurby tictoc?"
bim-burm nurgle shliptog
afttowicky wicky wicky
erm addmuksle slibberyjert !
Reqi stoobery bup dinhhk
yibberdy yobberdy hif twizzum moshlap
dwisty fujefti coppen smoppen dob
tigtog turjemy fydel
swiggy swiggy swug
Copyright Wergle Flomp January 2000
He was informed, "In celebration of the unique talent that you have
displayed, we also wish to publish your poem in what promises to be one
of the most highly sought after collections of poetry we have ever
published... Promises of Love (ISBN 1-58235-065-5)".
However, on a slightly upbeat and encouraging note for Wergle, this
acceptance was not accompanied with an additional 'bonus' that Stephen
Abutlol had previously received. There was no note saying they had also
selected the piece to be read by a 'professional reader', to be put on
audio cassette. Neither Wergle or I can imagine why! What is difficult
about reciting " Reqi stoobery bup dinhhk"? One can only assume that
Romantic poetry is better read off the page!
At the time of writing this, Wergle's poem had not been posted on the
website where Stephen's and Wadda's fine masterpieces can be displayed
and enjoyed. But given time who knows?
I still remain very keen to see what a poetry.com 'rejection slip'
looks like, however.
On a slightly different twist, having had several emails from poetry
friends, I want to make it quite clear - NO I have not and never would
submit their poetry to this 'publishing house'. This is in response to
my being informed they had discovered some of their work had appeared
on the site without their knowledge or permission, having searched and
found their name!
For what little consolation it is, I even discovered a poem of mine had
been 'acquired' and posted on their site.
At one point, I did have a phone number for poetry.com and I contacted
them asking how this could have possibly happened. Unfortunately I was
passed around between their 'customer service' staff without any
explanation. Surprisingly, it was not possible for me to speak with any
of the 'Selection committee'. In exasperation, I wrote to them,
threatening that both I and my publisher would sue them for breach of
copyright. Fortunately that did the trick.
If anyone else has more luck, than Stephen AbutLOL, Wadda (ass) Iyam
and Wergle Flomp, in extracting a 'rejection slip' from this
organisation, I would be delighted to see a copy!
I am of the understanding they also promote themselves under the names:
National Library of Poetry and International Library of Poetry.
Originally written for Poetic Voices (Internet 'ezine'), then modified
and posted on The Thorn and Rose website (Internet 'ezine) and
Copyright retained, David Taub (Ukpoet@aol.com) January 2000
First published (Hard-copy) The Legend, West Florida, Literary
Federation Inc., September 2000
Copyright David Taub (UKpoet@aol.com), 1999
If you enjoyed reading this piece and/or have any comments, you are
welcome to email me at UKpoet@aol.com
David Taub is a member of
The British organisation 'National Union of Journalists' (NUJ);
Columnist for the UK magazine 'Poetry Now';
Freelance writer for various UK and USA magazines;
Co-author of Language of Souls (listed on amazon.com)