Tonight, as we were wrapping up another Method and Muse podcast and putting it to bed, I got an email notification from The New Yorker magazine. I sent them a short story in mid-June. Their auto-email says that, if you haven’t heard from them in 90 days, assume that they were not interested in your piece. Well, mid-September came and went, and I haven’t thought about it since. It was a long shot — I mean, it’s The New Yorker, for chrissakes!

But that’s me in a nutshell: go big or go home.

Then this email. I was stunned. They wrote me back. I’d heard all the stories of people submitting time and time again and never getting a response and yet, here was one sitting in my inbox.

Welcome to The Wide and Wonderful World of Things You Don’t Know About Publishing Until You Find Out (yes, that’s a terrible title — go with it). Turns out there’s this thing called Tiered Letters. It’s like a scaled rejection system that goes from a flat-out-rejection, to encouraging-but-no, to keep-sending-us-stuff. There’s also a website that catalogs these things. Click the link — I kid you not.

Doing a little research, I found out I received a tiered rejection letter. Something other than an auto-reject that said I probably wasted my time.

It was huge validation for me. First, that I got a letter at all. And second, that I managed to make it out of slush pile far enough to get tiered letter.

So, no — my short story won’t be appearing in The New Yorker. And that’s ok. There are many full-time, famous authors who never get to add that to their writing resume. It’s still on my goal list, so maybe someday. But for now, I’m gonna frame this thing.

My first rejection letter ever. From no less than one of the most prestigious literary magazines in the world. Telling me, “Hey, not bad kid. Go find someplace to publish this. It’s got merit.”

I’ll take it.


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