When I get a form rejection from a magazine, (unless it’s the New Yorker or Paris Review or something like that), I generally tend to cross them off my list and move on. I don’t send out that much work, and I research places really, really carefully–plus I read every single magazine I submit to and that’s the honest truth. I’m very thoughtful about whether my work would fit. I rarely do simultaneous submissions, and even more rarely send to more than three places.
This approach has worked pretty well for me–I still get rejected all the time, of course, but often they’re thoughtful, even encouraging personal rejections. And those magazines, I submit to again. Again. And again. And again. A lot of them I’ve cracked after several tries. Which feels great.
But when I get a form rejection saying my work isn’t a good fit, especially the ones that say, Maybe you should read our magazine, here is a subscription link–when I’m already a subscriber to that magazine–I tend to cross them right off the list. Partially because I’m annoyed with them for being so daft and assuming artists don’t need to be treated professionally or with courtesy (and please don’t tell me about the slush pile and all the terrible writers just ASKING to be treated like shit because I am from the Midwest and I BELIEVE in courtesy to EVERYONE, deep in my bones. Well, except tea-partiers.) But also partially because I understand that, clearly, this particular publication has seen a very good sample of what I do as a writer, and they have rejected it so thoroughly they didn’t feel the need to even slightly change a form email or letter. (And please don’t tell me, also, that MFA mags or mags with a certain number of submissions don’t have the time–because I have received some very nice rejection letters by very some of those very magazines’ editors or assistant editors or whoever and it is much appreciated.) Which tells me that either a) I have misjudged their aesthetic, or b)they have so many readers who just don’t care and are doing this for the credit or whatever that the magazine ends up inadvertently filtering out much of what would fit its aesthetic. So it’s really all chance. And I’m not doing a crap shoot submission. There are so many wonderful magazines and journals out there, on and offline, I just feel like it’s a waste of time not to move on.
What do you think? Is this stupid? Am I being an idealist? I think I do okay this way, though I do have to admit I’ve only been published by one MFA mag ever. So maybe I’m locking myself out of that corridor. But is that bad? I don’t know.
What do you all do? Do you submit to the crap game?