My collection of New Yorker rejection letters. It's like you can actually watch evolution take place.

(Given it being a big week for Darwin and all, I thought it would be kind of cool to repost this post from 07)

Not counting Shouts and Murmurs email queries, I've sent pieces to the New Yorker proper on three occasions, the last of which just a few months ago. What I've noticed is that there is a clear trend is how these rejection letters have been developing over the years.

Here's the first one I got, which I think is pretty impressive and earned a rating of "A" in a previous post. I mean, it's got it all. Handwritten, reference to a powerful editor at the top of his game, written and signed even by someone in the same plateau. Plus, just the right amount of pretention in the letter to make it charming.


So that was in Spring of 2003. The Nigeria piece, by the way, did eventually get published at Maisonneuve.

Next, in and around the early part of 2005, I sent in two pieces and got this back. It's much more direct and impersonal, although still with some nice sentiment thrown in. (These pieces by the way also came to public light - the wine piece appearing, also, in Maisonneuve, and the "Am I Everywhere" appearing in The Believer.


More recently, Ben and I co-wrote a piece (there's actually an interesting story to this - which we can maybe divulge once it finds a home), and submitted it to the hallowed halls of the New Yorker. This time, it was easily the fastest turnaround time, but take a look at the actual letter:


Anyway, the trend is pretty clear, and if I was a betting man, the next time a rejection fom the New Yorker is received, I'm guessing it might look a little this:


More like this

That looks more like a case of a workplace where more and more emploees are gone and labor and time must be focused on doing the same amount of work with less resources.

My guess would be rather than a two word rejection letter, you'd get a returned unopened envelope stapmed with the words "No such person at this address"

Hahaha! Come on...fourth time's the charm, right?

In my experiences with rejection letters from the SnoozeYorker was born the conspiracy theory that they've employed a Rumsfeldian sign-off generating automaton. Like an efficient water heater, it will surely save them money in the long run.

actually, you have great letters there:
the first is positiviely cordial, almost like between colleagues- mentioning someone passed to them (that alone indicates that ONE of the decision makers had hopes for the piece); apologizing for the delay (NYer just rejected my poem after 9 months and no apology, not that I need one); the use of "yours" when usually it's sincerely; the "we are grateful for your attention", which I take as meaning they respect your talent and are happy you thot of them first....
I don't know if you want to be in TNY but i think if the piece is right for them and up to your usual standards, you'll get in.
Sincerely, Yours, Gratefully, Rob :)