View Full Version : Getting colder

09-15-2005, 06:47 AM
I've been meaning to ask about this for a while, but I never remembered it while I was in the house and had access to my files.

In April I received this rejection from a magazine:

Thank you for submitting [story] but I am going to pass on it. I enjoyed reading it and I think it has some good ideas, but in my opinion it needs a bit of work. For instance, the reader needs to know more about Ian and what his motivations are and how the project began, what are the [alien monsters], etc., etc.

This story is definitely worth spending some time on. It has a lot of potential. Good luck with it.
Okay, it was a rejection, and a slightly condescending one at that. But it was also a real letter with detailed comments that showed the story had been seriously read.

Some time later I had another story that fit their guidelines -- probably fit them better than the first one -- so I sent it in. In August, I received the following:

Thank you for submitting [other story], but I have decided to pass on it. It's a good story, but not quite what I'm looking for at this time. I appreciate the opportunity to read your work and I wish you good luck with this piece.
This was obviously a form letter -- and, while I had no right to expect any more, I had to wonder: if I got a personalized rejection for the first story (a story which, in retrospect, was bad), what does it mean to get a form response for the second? Was the second story worse? Did they decide not to waste their time reading it when they saw my name again? Were they just in more of a hurry than when they rejected the first one?

Will I be shooting myself in the foot if I try submitting to the same magazine again?

I don't normally play the "interpret this rejection" game, but receiving a personalized negative rejection and a form positive/encouraging rejection just seems backwards. Can anyone shed any light on this?

09-15-2005, 07:06 AM
I didn't read the first letter as condescending.

I assume the two letters came from the same person, right? They have similar openings. My first guess, before I scrolled as far as your several guesses, was that the editor got busier in the interval or was told to spend less time writing helpful notes when returning a story. This is only a guess, but I'm entitled to my guess like anyone else.

09-15-2005, 07:28 AM
I think you should continue to submit. Also follow the advice of the 1st letter, in some way to beef up your next submission. I wouldn't try and read into the second one, since you feel it is a generic reject note. Keep doing your thing. Really! The first letter never said you stunk real bad; it actually suggests that the story has potential. Hey and at least your name is on the table or well in their heads. They may be looking for THE one from you. And lastly, they never said don't send anymore. I say keep 'em coming!...or well going!http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif
Good luck!

09-15-2005, 02:26 PM
Your first rejection appears to me to be about the best possible negative you can get! All stories have weak points and need revamping to some degree. You actually nearly rang their bell with this one. I would send it out a few more times in the hopes of additional or like-minded comments, then rewrite and send it out to entirely different markets. Hit this same mag with new and different stories. Multiple submissions to them doesn't mean you're wearing out your welcome--it's the opposite effect--you are showing them that you are a Productive writer and very much interested in their magazine.


09-15-2005, 06:30 PM
The first rejection certainly didn't come across as condescending to me.

At any rate, there's no rule about which order you receive rejections in. Every story is different, and every day is different for an editor. Some days he has more time, some days less time.

Either way, it means nothing. Keep submitting. Joyce Carol Oates received fifty rejection from The Atlantic Monthly before selling them a story.

And each story is an entity unto itself. Editors look for good stories. Period. Send the editor a story he likes well enough, and he will buy it, even if he's rejected a thousand of your stories in the past.