Feel free to skip to #15 for THE WORST ONE, hahaha. Otherwise, here are rejections 11-15 for your voyeuristic viewing pleasure.
Dear Christine Tyler,
Thank you for sending [poem] to [venue] for consideration. We appreciated the chance to consider your poetry, but unfortunately this isn’t for us. We know that poetry comes from deeply personal and emotionally significant places, and we appreciate the care and effort that goes into writing and submitting. We relish the chance to read each submission we receive. Even though this poetry wasn’t right for us, we’re honored that you took the time to send it our way, and we wish you all the best.
Please don’t be discouraged by the form letter. Because we work hard to reply in a timely manner, we’re unable to provide specific feedback for the vast majority of our submissions.
Thanks again. Best of luck placing your poetry elsewhere.
This one (#11) was so compassionate I almost didn’t think it was a form letter. Points go to this venue for being the most remarkably polite rejection I’ve ever received.
Yes, these are very early results!
Your story has been judged and did not place in the [contest] which was between [date] and [date].
I look forward to your next story this current quarter which ends on [date]
I hope your holiday season is a good one.
I’ll give you one guess to figure out who this came from, hahaha. Last time I entered a story in this contest I received a Silver Honorable Mention, and I have to admit, it made me feel a little cocky. I thought this newer entry was better than the last one, and therefore it would fare even better with the judges. And, well, that’s just not how it works, is it?
Thank you for the opportunity to read [story]. Unfortunately, your story is not quite what we’re looking for right now.
In the past, we’ve provided detailed feedback on our rejections, but I’m afraid that due to time considerations, we’re no longer able to offer that service. I appreciate your interest in [venue] and hope that you’ll keep us in mind in the future.
Thank you for submitting your story, [title], to [venue]. Unfortunately, we have decided not to publish it. To date, we have reviewed many strong stories that we did not take. Either the fit was wrong or we’d just taken tales with a similar theme or any of a half dozen other reasons.
Best success selling this story elsewhere.
Dear Christine Tyler,
Thank you for submitting your poetry to [venue]. We very much appreciate the chance to read your work, but we are regretfully saying no to this submission. We wish you luck with placing it elsewhere and hope you will continue to consider us in the future.
This is a wonderful piece of science fiction. I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t find a publisher.
And here we have it. The worst rejection I’ve ever received, at least in terms of how it made me feel. And it’s this bit: “This is a wonderful piece of science fiction. I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t find a publisher.”
You see, to me, the worst rejection isn’t the tersest, or the fastest, it’s the closest. This particular venue had this poem under review for a lot longer than they usually do, so I knew, I knew they were considering it for publication. I was constantly on my toes, checking and rechecking my email. And when they got back to me, this rejection validated that.
The editor, at least the editor that wrote back to me, thought it was “a wonderful piece of science fiction,” and that is incredibly reaffirming. That part is exciting, and I’m so grateful they let me know that. I wouldn’t want to not know they thought something so complimentary of my work.
However, most magazines have more than one editor, as was the case with this one. I have a very strong suspicion that this particular editor wanted to include it, but it probably didn’t work with the other pieces the other editors brought to the table. Both digital and print venues have restrictions on the size (bandwidth or pages) of each publication, and the fact that this poem was irregularly long leads me to believe that may have been the deal-breaker.
In all, I felt like I was fishing and had a huge, beautiful salmon nibbling on my line, and I had the exhilaration of hooking it and reeling it in, and I was imagining salmon soup and smoked salmon and mirin salmon…and then, BAM, the whopper spat out the bait and was gone. The hook hadn’t set.
That glittering flash of scales was what made this my worst rejection yet. But it’s okay. I’ve got more bait where that came from, and I’m putting it back in the water. And who knows? Maybe one of these days the same fish will swim by again when I have the literary equivalent to PowerBait®, and I’ll land them hook, line, and sinker.
In the meantime, thanks for coming on this journey with me. I hope you like fishing.