For writers, rejections sting, but let’s think about it. As readers, writers are in the position to reject as well.
Writers often get rejections from editors that read something like this:”We are sorry we are not accepting your work as it is not a good fit for our journal. This is by no means a judgment of your work, however, and we wish you well in placing it elsewhere.”
We know from research that the reader-writer transaction is an equal one. Readers need writers. Writers need readers.
And so it is that readers who subscribe to journals have an equal right to say goodbye to a subscription—not because the journal’s content is bad or even suspect, but simply because the reader doesn’t feel his or her tastes are a match with the editor’s selections.
That said, there is one way readers and writers are not equal. Readers are not necessarily writers, but writers are necessarily readers. Call them writer / readers, a substantial part of every magazine’s subscription rolls.
To complete the logic, then, writer / readers who subscribe to literary magazines might find themselves not renewing (the equivalent of rejecting) a journal by saying, in so many words, “I am sorry I cannot read your journal any more as much of the work you print is not a good fit with my tastes. This is by no means a judgment of your journal, however, and I wish you well in selling subscriptions to others.”
Of course, editors don’t get that message unless a lot of subscribers sign off. Still, for writer / readers, the message is empowering. Rejection, fairly done, is a two-way street. And just as the sun will rise in the east, there are other literary magazines with editorial decisions more closely aligned with your tastes.
All this came to mind as I decided, after two years, that I don’t really enjoy the poetry journal I’ve been receiving in the mail. Yes, I’ve submitted work to them, but it really made no sense to do so.
After all, if I don’t care for the editorial team’s tastes as a reader, what makes me think they will care for my poetry as a writer?
I know, I know. Writers aren’t the most logical of creatures. They can even get delusional at times. But give us the benefit of the doubt. We’ll think it through and eventually come to our senses—as writers and readers both.