Reasons Why Your Short Story Was Rejected


Dear Writer,

Here are the reasons why your short story was rejected from our fine, upstanding and highly reputable literary magazine.  We have won no awards, and until we listed ourselves on Duotrope no one knew who we were, but our standards are extremely rigorous. 


We expect nothing but the best, we don’t accept haiku or limericks, and please stop sending us submissions in Russian, Polish and Slovakian. We called ourselves the Red Army Journal but we expect you to understand it has nothing to do with the actual Red Army.

Read all of the fiction in our archives before submitting, or permanently subscribe to our mailing list so we can send you five emails a week despite the fact that we will never accept your stories. Slavish devotion to our journal does not equate to reciprocal love.

Please send us documents only in kju, or opp formats.  If you have never heard of them, that is your problem, those are the only formats we accept.  We accept submissions on Thursdays from 2:35pm PST until 5:40pm EST except in months with 30 days, then we don’t.

As you know, we are only staffed by part-time volunteers whose mothers have nagged them relentlessly about why they got an MFA when a Computer Science degree would have allowed them to move out of the basement.  Regardless, we have entrusted your work to our lovable grunts, and here are their highly esteemed opinions which we have carefully crafted into a form letter rejection for you:

  1. I read the first line of your story and I kind of liked it, then my cat barfed on the floor and I had to go clean it up.  Have you ever smelled cat barf, writer? It stinks.  When I sat back down I was in a bad mood.  I re-read your first sentence and determined it to be the work of a hack. (FORM REJECTION)
  2. I liked your submission and sent it on to the second volunteer reader. She didn’t like it.  The third volunteer reader was not available (she is with her boyfriend and not doing her slushpile reading!)  I argued with volunteer #2, but she convinced me to go drinking instead.  On our third glass of Chardonnay we decide you are better off being rejected in the hopes you will take up Computer Science. You can’t get a good night’s sleep in a basement. One sentence personal rejection inside the (FORM REJECTION.)
  3. I hated your story.  I especially hated the fact that I had written a story that was similar to this one, and it had been my first rejection.  That magazine has never accepted one of my stories and I really liked that story.  That was my favorite story and it still hasn’t found a home. (FORM REJECTION)
  4. Your story was really funny and witty.  We don’t like funny or witty. (FORM REJECTION)
  5. Your story was 2001 words and if you read our submission guidelines, which you are now blatently violating, you would know that we only accept fiction pieces from 1-2000 words.  Why couldn’t you just edit out one word for us? Just pick a word, any word, at random and take it out.  Then you would have had a fantastic story and we would have accepted it.  (FORM REJECTION)
  6. Your story is perfectly attuned to our submissions guidelines.  I love this kind of writing and value it highly.  Unfortunately, I’ve run out of funding and I just can’t run this magazine by myself anymore.  I’m closing shop and getting a job as a waiter, but I’m sure you’ll find a home for this story elsewhere, writer.
  7. Your story was the best story ever submitted to us.  This story is so good, we wouldn’t be able to compare it to any other story we’ve ever published.  In fact, we can’t compare it to anything because your story has been lost in our electronic submissions management system. Bill left the magazine a year ago and the submissions management system has been a mess since then.  Maybe you’ll query us after you haven’t heard back in nine months, but it won’t matter, we’re never going to find it.

Reasons Why Your Story Was Accepted:

We only needed one more piece to complete this issue, and yours was small enough to fit perfectly.