Every writer sometimes gets their work back after sending it in to magazines. The more you write, the longer you’ve been writing for, the more often this happens. I’ve had my share over the years, but today, getting the second batch of poems back in two days (different poems, different magazines) has made me think about the issue.
The reasons for sending back vary:
- your work is not appropriate for that magazine
- the next issue is already full, and the slush pile is overflowing
- your work is about Christmas and the next issue is a summer one
- your work doesn’t fit with the themes selected for future issues
- the editor doesn’t like your work
- the editor likes it, but not enough to publish – there are better ones already accepted
These reasons are all perfectly understandable, and so the word ‘rejection’ isn’t really the right one (I don’t have an alternative though). I hope 1, 3 and 5 don’t apply here, and I suspect the reason these poems have come winging back to me is related to number 6. One editor has helpfully told me that two poems were contenders, but didn’t quite make it.
What do I do about it though? Well, my usual reaction is first to look at the poems again, to see if they can be improved or corrected. That’s a positive step. Then, after a pause for editing and reflection, I’ll dig out my ‘Submissions’ table, which has columns for Poem, Submitted To, Rejected By, and Try Next. I’m organised this way because I think I have to be. I usually send out thirty or so poems in a year, and I have to make sure I don’t send the same poem to a magazine twice, or send the same poems to several magazines at the same time. I look at the poems again, to see if they match the style and content of the ‘Try Next’ magazines, and then I send them out again.