We’ve all received the rejection letters. They go a little something like this:
Thank you for sending us “The Best Story in the World.” We appreciate the chance to read your work. However, this piece is not right for us at this time. We wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere.
And, really, though we do tend to pour our heart and soul into these “pieces” that aren’t “right” for different people at different times, one can’t really fault “The Editors” for these responses when one considers just how many hearts and souls end up in their New Submission folders everyday.
However, there are a few literary mags out there who manage to balance quality publishing with a bit more generosity in their rejection letters. I’m talking about the magazines who’re willing to sign an actual editor’s name to the notes; magazines who’ll take the time to specify things like: “Please consider us for future submissions” or “I hope you’re able to find a home for this story”; and magazines who’re willing to insert even one measly sentence in the rejection note that A) shows they actually read it and B) mentions something great or problematic/in need of fixing in the story.
And, to thank some of those magazines who’ve always been generous with me in their break-up letters, I’m going to profile a few of them here for your consideration as writers and readers. So, without further ado (and in no particular order):
1. Used Gravitrons
We have a soft spot for the out-of-place, broken and dangerously obsolete.
We do not have a soft spot for the word Thus, phrases detailing dragon’s loins glistening with morning’s dew, or pictures of waterfalls taken through frosted glass.
2. Pithead Chapel
At Pithead Chapel, we’re looking for engaging stories told in honest voices. Most of all, we want to feel something. We want to reach the last word and immediately crave more. We want your work to leave a brilliant bruise. Send us your gutsiest narrative and we’ll do our best to get your voice heard.
TriQuarterly is the literary magazine of Northwestern University and of the MA/MFA in Creative Writing program. Edited by graduate students in the program, supervised by faculty, and available around the world, TriQuarterly has remained “an international journal of writing, art, and cultural inquiry.” TQ is creating an online archive of its own history by publishing individual works from its past, sometimes with new accompanying comments by the writers.
4. ellipsis… Literature & Art
ellipsis is a literature and art journal published each April by the students of Westminster College in Salt Lake City (since 1965). Contributors are paid for their work and eligible for a prize judged this year by Andrea Hollander. We publish well known writers, up-and-coming writers, and never-before-published writers. … Each issue reflects its unique editors and staff.
5. Analog: Science Fiction and Fact
Some people who haven’t read Analog assume it has a much narrower emphasis on “nuts and bolts” than it actually has. It’s true that we care very much about making our speculations plausible, because we think there’s something extra special about stories that are not only fantastic, but might actually happen. But it’s just as true that we’re very concerned about people (Earthly or otherwise) and how future changes will affect the way they live. If you haven’t tried Analog, we hope you will. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by each issue’s mix of fascinating stories about real people in potentially real futures (some terrifying, some exhilarating, some both), fact articles and columns about real trends in science and society, reviews of new books, and an ongoing dialog with our readers in the letter column. Editor Stanley Schmidt, who is both a physicist and a science fiction writer, sees to it that the underlying philosophy remains the same: solidly entertaining stories exploring solidly thought-out speculative ideas. But the ideas, and consequently the stories, are always new.
6. The Bad Version
The Bad Version’s mission is simple: to begin critical conversations about our world and how we engage with it.
How do we do it? TBV publishes vibrant new work from young writers, and it enlists its readership as contributors to the magazine, as writers and commentators, to help expand the conversation begun by these questions.
7. Burnside Review
Burnside Review is a small-press publisher, located in Portland, Oregon. Founded in 2004, the journal is published every 9-12 months. Yearly, we also publish two-full length books of poetry and two chapbooks (one fiction, one poetry) through our contests.
8. Carve Magazine
Carve seeks to publish outstanding literary fiction and to promote the writers we publish, helping both new, emerging, and established authors reach a wider literary audience. This is achieved through sharing their stories across a variety of publication mediums: online, print, e-readers, and more. In addition, we take special pride in our editorial process. While we cannot send a unique response to every submission, we certainly try. We offer notes and critiques on stories that we feel are nearly aligned with our vision while noting that ultimately selections are subjective and varied. The magazine is named in honor of Raymond Carver, short story artist and master of the “minimalist” form, though his later works espoused a longer, more detailed style. We admire this dyad, as we strive to publish fiction that is both concise and generous. Above all, Carve, like its namesake, is honest fiction.
9. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
The Ellery Queen tradition of literary excellence and top-notch crime and detective writing continues today. The Readers Encyclopedia of American Literature calls Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine “the finest periodical of its kind.” Thanks to its many gifted contributors, EQMM remains where it has always been, on the cutting edge of crime and mystery fiction, offering readers the very best stories being written in the genre anywhere in the world.
10. Indiana Review
Now in its thirty-seventh year of publication, Indiana Review is a non-profit literary magazine dedicated to showcasing the talents of emerging and established writers. Our mission is to offer the highest quality writing within a wide aesthetic.
As a biannual literary review, IR considers previously unpublished fiction, poetry, essays, visual art, interviews, and reviews. IR is edited and managed by Indiana University graduate students and funded mainly by subscriptions, grants, and partial university support.
Happy Reading & Writing!