Feeling snubbed by Academy Chicago, the thirty-three-year-old independent press praised by many writers as author-friendly? Check your rejection letter—you may have received it in error.
Jordan Miller, who along with his wife, Anita, founded the press in Chicago in 1975, says their bookkeeper—who according to Jordan is always very helpful, perhaps too helpful in this instance—rejected an unknown number of submissions without the editors' knowledge during the past three months. After Jordan and Anita noticed that their "big pile of submissions" wasn't getting any bigger—despite the fact that they were receiving a slew of manuscripts from interested authors—they grew suspicious. Then, after an envelope addressed to fiction writer Tony Ardizzone, whose work had been submitted but not read by either Jordan or Anita, was discovered in the press's outgoing mailbox, they made a startling discovery: The bookkeeper, whom Jordan says is not trained to judge the merits of manuscripts, had been rejecting submissions. "She admitted to about ten," he says. "I assume close to thirty were sent but I have absolutely no way of knowing for sure."
Jordan says Anita typically sends hand-written letters to authors whose work seems promising but is not quite right for the press. "We're always getting thank-you letters in return," he says. The press also has a form rejection letter that includes blanks for a salutation and the name of the manuscript—blanks that are typically filled in by hand by one of the editors. The bookkeeper, however, did not fill out the blanks. "Talk about a cold rejection letter," Jordan says. "We were horrified."
Jordan asks that authors who have recently received a form rejection letter from Academy Chicago with no personalized information write to the press at 363 West Erie Street, 7E, Chicago, IL 60610.
As for the bookkeeper, Jordan says she was apologetic and that she won't do it again. "We put her in a pair of handcuffs and leg irons so at least we know where she is," he adds, laughing.