Real-Time Rejection: The 5th Rejection of “Story X”

Halfway there, folks! “Story X” has received its fifth rejection. Have a look.

Thank you for submitting your story to XXX.  Unfortunately, your story does not meet our needs at this time.  Yours is one of many high-quality submissions we received, and we encourage you to try us again if you have another story that you think would be a good fit.

This is a form rejection, no doubt, but is it a common form rejection or an improved form rejection? Remember, the usual criteria for an improved form rejection is an invite to send more work. That said, In this case, it’s hard to know if this is a sincere request or something this publisher just adds to their general form letter—an (appreciated) nicety to soften the blow. There’s no way to know, of course, but my gut says common form rejection, so I’m going with that.

An interesting tidbit is that “Story X” was under consideration quite a while with this publication, well beyond their estimated response date for submissions. Most publications are slower to respond with acceptances and tend to be right around their stated response times with rejections (according to the stats on Duotrope, anyway). It can be tough not to get your hopes up if a magazine holds on to your story longer than usual because, sure, a slower response could mean they’re really considering it. Of rouse, it could also mean they’ve got a mountain of slush to get through, and the editors are just behind schedule. I tend to think it’s the latter unless they tell me otherwise.

One more update: “Story X” was under consideration with one other publication, but I withdrew it. This publication recently announced on their website they had stopped accepting submissions and encouraged authors who had a story with them (and hadn’t heard back yet) to send their stories elsewhere. That’s seemed like a clear indication I wasn’t going to hear anything for a long time (maybe ever), so I fired off a polite withdrawal letter.

So, five rejection and five more shots at publication before I must admit defeat. On the next round of submissions, I’ll likely adjust my targeting a bit and submit the story as dark urban fantasy rather than straight horror, as one editor suggested (wisely, I think).

Stay tuned!

Previous Real-Time Rejection Posts

Intro: Real-Time Rejection: The Journey of “Story X”

Part 1: Real-Time Rejection: The 1st Rejection of “Story X”

Part 2: Real-Time Rejection: The 2nd Rejection of “Story X”

Part 3: Real-Time Rejection: The 3rd Rejection of “Story X”

Part 4: Real-Time Rejection: The 4th Rejection of “Story X”

10 thoughts on “Real-Time Rejection: The 5th Rejection of “Story X”

  1. Right, I’m back – this time plugged into the mains! I didn’t know there was an “improved form rejection”. This makes me thrill with excitement because I get these and assumed they were “form rejections”. I hug close any information which would suggest I’m not a complete loser. Thank you!

    • So, the “improved” form rejection is kind of a gray area, honestly. I have anecdotal evidence that suggests certain publications have tiers of form rejections, and a form letter requesting additional work is a higher tier than the simple “not for us.” That said, there is also fairly strong evidence that some publishers put something resembling a request for additional work in every form letter they send, and it’s no different than saying “we hope you find a home for your story elsewhere” or the equivalent.

      As with all things on this blog, this is an opinion based on my own experiences, and I may, in fact, be completely full of shit. 😉

  2. Let’s discuss seasonal stories and genres for a moment. Did you give much thought to timing and potential audience? As I recall, you began submitting Story X just over a month ago, when any sort of Halloween special edition would be assembled, possibly expanding your target audience. Yet, per your post, you’re only now considering expanding your target market.

    How much of a factor do seasonal themes play in your submission strategies?

    • Great comment. I honestly hadn’t given the season any consideration (and I generally don’t). I submit to markets that primarily publish horror, and a Halloween-themed issue probably wouldn’t change the types of stories they’d accept. I’ve submitted “Story X” exclusively to these kinds of markets. That said, magazines that publish genre other than horror might do a Halloween-themed issue and expand the types of stories they will accept. Had I thought about it a few months ago when I started sending out “Story X”, I might have and maybe should have expanded my submission targeting to include markets like that.


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