There is a certain mid-level publication* which, I have decided, will remain nameless, who sent me a rejection letter recently. A perfectly polite form rejection letter. I agreed with them. Since I submitted the story to them, I’ve reread the story–been thoroughly horrified by how silly a writer I was back then–and rewritten the story to, what I believe, great effect. The original version I submitted to them didn’t deserve to be published. No hard feelings.
I do have hard feelings over how long it took them to get back to me, though. You see, I submitted this short story in January 2011. Yeah, it took them fifteen months to get back to me with a rejection letter. This is particularly horrifying when contrasted with their promised response time: six months. And the fact that they are one of the rare bird publications that don’t allow simultaneous submissions. They expect exclusive rights to view your work, and then don’t get back to you for more than a year!
I understand that editors are busy people. Really, I do. So about two months after I should have heard back from them, I sent a very polite email. Just checking in that my story hadn’t been lost (I saw it was “In-Progress” on Submittable.com, but still) if there was a projected average response time, and how I was interested in potentially interviewing an editor for my blog.
Since then, I had sent two more, very polite emails, and two equally polite Facebook inbox messages (their editors update the content on their Facebook fan page every.single.day.)
And now the informal rejection letter. I just wish somebody had thought it worth their time to say, in response to one of my many messages, “Hey, we’ll get back to you.” Something vague and unhelpful, but at least a response. Proof that the journal is run by real people, not a hoard of robots.
Let’s just say I’m not planning on dooming one of my stories to a year of hard-time, languishing in this literary journal’s inbox, ever again.
*By “mid-level publication” I mean it’s decently well-known, respectable publication, but it doesn’t pay the contributors a cent, which is fine if you’re into that kind of thing, and is, on the ladder system, definitely several dozen rungs below some really swoon-worthy publications that serve as massive high-points in a writer’s career, like Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, New Yorker, and Hayden Ferry’s Review.