Some Rejections Are Worse Than Others

I’ve come to expect rejections of all types. Standard form rejections, personal notes with commentary, and yes, even rejection in the form of pieces that got lost, journals that closed, or journals who – for whatever strange reason – never reply at all. All of this can and does happen, although the “lost” “closed” and “no reply” versions are pretty rare.

So, without embellishment on my part, I’m going to communicate what happened with one organization: Hunger Mountain: Vermont College of Fine Arts.

2/21/2011 – submit a script for a play for their consideration

10/8/2011 – sent inquiry regarding status of my submission

11/2011 – no reply

12/2011 – no reply

1/22/2012 – sent reply to inquiry stating play still under consideration, expect decision within one month

2/2012 – no decision

3/16/2012 – sent inquiry regarding status of submission based on information provided in 1/22/2012 reply

3/26/2012 – Here is the reply I received, verbatim:


Dear Carol Deminski,

Thank you for sending us (“name of piece sent”). We appreciate the chance to read it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us.

Thanks again. Best of luck with this. And we do apologize for holding on to it for so long!


The editors,

Hunger Mountain

Vermont College of Fine Arts


Your mileage may vary with this organization, but I didn’t enjoy going through more than a year of waiting for a one line standard rejection form.



16 Responses

  1. Wish there was an “unlike” button. That’s just rude.

    Even if they’re swamped with submissions, if someone actually read the play, then there’s no reason why he/she couldn’t at least write a short paragraph with one or two reasons why it wasn’t for them.

    Let it roll of your back like a bead of sweat. 😉

    • Thanks Mike. Given how many rejections I get and the frequency of them, you can imagine how much it takes for me to post something like this. My experiences above are definitely statistically out of the normal range, but I do want to share them with anybody that might consider submitting to this organization.

      And yes, after holding onto a piece for more than a year, you’d think a personal reply would be in order…

      Also, you’re a doll for your comments. And CONGRATS again to you for your FRESHLY PRESSED, you WordPress Prince!

  2. Ugh, that sort of thing happens when you’re dealing with editors. I had a really rough time with one mag that shall remain nameless…
    I wrote the editor to query my topic and mentioned I was a teen writer. The editor told me they were unlikely to accept work from teens because teens hadn’t “mastered the craft” but would consider me anyway. I sent my work. Months dragged by. I asked about my work’s status. Nothing. I emailed them to say I withdrew my work from consideration. Nothing. After enough time had passed that I’d forgotten about my submission I got an email from the editor saying, “I’m sorry; I’ve lost your work, please send it again.”

    I didn’t.

    • I had something similar happen recently with Bare Root Review. I sent three inquiries to them after submitting months prior, and just assumed they were never going to reply.

      When they finally did reply, they admitted they lost the submission and asked me to re-send it to them. I sent it to them via email, then they sent me a standard rejection form several weeks later. At that point I was left wondering why I bothered….

      Yeah, some journals deal with writers in a particular way, the way you’d want to be treated while others… just don’t.

      Sorry you got treated poorly Belle. You may want to share the name of the journal so others can be forewarned! :-}

      • …do you think I’d get sued for defamation or something if I shared their name, though? 🙂

        Hope you have better experiences in the future!

        • Hahahaha.

          Yes, let’s both hope to have better experiences in the future.

        • Belle, I’m pretty sure you can’t get into trouble if you just recount a factual record without any derogatory terms. Carol’s classy post above is, I’m sure, something she can document pretty easily, should anyone ask. It’s just a useful reference point for other writers considering that journal for submissions.

        • Thanks Rebecca, everybody’s comfort level is different… it’s ok either way.

          Thanks for your supportive comment too….

  3. Dear Carol,

    That was a very nice post and comment thread. Concerning those late replying, non-caring editors, I hope time wounds all heels.



    • Thanks Doug. Actually, I wish those journals would attract more readers, and simply do a better job of managing their slushpiles. We all benefit when a journal pulls themselves up by the bootstraps and does what they need to do in order for writers, readers and everyone involved to have a good experience. I know it’s not easy…

  4. Well, this is an opportunity for a powerful spiritual lesson in life: people act the way they want to act not the way we expect them. If they act or behave or say not the way we wish, tough luck. It is imperative to learn to accept life the way it is not the way we wish it would-should or could have been.
    For the particular case we accepted to allow this to happen by giving time to a publisher hoping that he may accept our proposal, I don’t like the word submission….it is a business proposal. Submissives submit not writers. Writers are producers of creative works and without it publishers would have been on the unmployment line…Now we chose to let someone keep a material for a year. Why he didn’t write more? Because this is his constitutional right…not to want to explain.
    When we learn to accept life we rearrange our own life different. And we should learn to be open to the unexpected turns in life.

    • George,

      I’m not sure if you realize that no publisher will be “on the unemployment line” based on anything one writer does or doesn’t submit. Most editors and staff at small literary journals are volunteers, as are the writers submitting material to them. It’s not a business proposal because 99% of the time there is no money exchanged.

      It is a professional exchange though, because a writer does propose their work, and it is up to the journal to determine if they want to accept it or not.

      Given that there is usually no money exchanged, AND because writers volunteer their works to a journal, it makes sense for writers to share their experiences and come together as a community to know what to expect from certain publishers.

      That was the purpose of this post.

      Also, I do accept the decisions any journal makes about my pieces, whether rejected or accepted. That’s not the point here.

      Thanks for your comment.


  5. In order to not get myself worked up in to too much of a lather over this – I will say one small phrase: NOT COOL!

  6. Had the same thing happen with Inscription magazine, a new “pro” market that I think had good intentions when it launched with a kickstarter campaign. After sixth months of silence, I sent them an email. No response. Repeat once a month for, oh, four or five months? Needless to say I had moved on by then and had sent the piece elsewhere, so I sent them a polite “withdrawal” (which they also didn’t respond to). Finally, I got a form rejection out of the blue. I find this is the case with a lot of fledgling markets–you’ve got starry-eyed newly minted MFAs who have good intentions but no clue how to run a lit mag, and quickly end up in over their heads.

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