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).
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