When submitting to literary magazines, it’s rare to get more than a form rejection letter in the event your work isn’t published. At The Rag, for better or worse, we’re not a whole lot different here. If you’re new to the literary submission game, don’t let this discourage you. There are specific reasons why it’s generally not possible or advisable for us to give you more than a simple “no”, politely phrased.
The biggest concern from our end is time. As in, there’s not enough of it in the day. I’ve considered trying meth. I hear you can stay awake for days on that shit. Drawbacks exist. I’ve watched Cops. I’ve ridden the MAX. I’ve seen the dental problems, the sores, the twitching, the homelessness.
Barring massive amphetamine use, it’s just not possible to provide a personalized response on every submission we receive and decline. Which brings us to another point: do writers want a personalized response? Some actively dislike receiving feedback. It’s something that makes you second-guess your writing, or, if there’s a positive statement, then it’s just frustrating: “If you liked it so much, why didn’t you publish it? Asshole.” So that’s the other main reason we generally refrain from providing unsolicited feedback.
There are times when we will provide more than the standard “no” reply. If we have a particularly strong opinion about an aspect of a story, we may point it out. Also, while we’ll never be able to send personalized responses to everyone, if a writer specifically asks for feedback, we will try our best to honor the request. So if you are particularly looking for some commentary in the event of a decline, you can certainly ask.
To summarize: if you get basic rejection letter, telling you we aren’t going to publish your story in The Rag and nothing more, take it for what it is, a simple rejection, which places you in the elite company of every writer who has ever written. It doesn’t mean we hated your writing and have nothing good to say about it. It doesn’t mean we didn’t strongly consider it. It doesn’t necessarily mean anything more than that we’re blithering idiots who’ve just passed up an opportunity to publish something brilliant. And if you really want to know more about what we thought of your story or poem, let us know, and we’ll accommodate the request to the best of our abilities.