In which I am reminded that there are actual people behind the submissions

So we get a lot of submissions at SmokeLong Quarterly. On average, about 1200 per quarter. And we publish about 20 of those. So that means we send out a lot of rejection letters. And, sadly, many of those are form rejections.

I won’t go into the reasons behind that–you guys know the drill of ‘other paying daytime jobs,’ ‘toddlers,’ ‘my own writing and life,’ blah blah blah. Though I really would like to send personal feedback more often, it just isn’t possible.

So today, I was trolling around on Twitter and saw that someone had tweeted at someone else to ask if she’d heard anything from SmokeLong Quarterly. Being nosy, I looked at the exchange, and realized it was a writing professor tweeting to his student about the places she’d sent a story of hers.

Cool, right? So I checked out her name and looked up her story in our archives and saw that we’d sent her a form rejection. Bummer. I re-read the story and looked at the other editor’s comments, and decided to be a cyber-stalker and tweeted back at both of them with some personal feedback.


Nothing earth-shattering there in my Twitter feedback, but I wanted her to know that we actually read it, that she wasn’t just sending out into the void. I remember that feeling–I still have it sometimes–and it sucks. I think it’s easy to forget that there are actual humans behind the long list of stories in our queue, and that they are desperate for any kind of feedback, any kind of comment that shows that there are actual human beings behind the form rejections and submission systems. It was nice to be reminded of that today. It was also nice to see kick-ass writing professors tweeting at their students and encouraging them to keep on writing and submitting.


I hope she does send to us again, and I hope one day we publish one of her stories. Submitting stories, books, poems, whatever, can be a long and frustrating process–but with the right people around us, with the right mentors and editors and friendly champions, it makes the whole miserable system a little bit brighter.

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