My goal for this series of blog posts is for writers to save themselves a lot of time and frustration. This series is meant to get you on the path toward publication, provided you put in the work of writing and revising. Don't worry if you don't follow all these recommendations--who could? I'll be the first to admit that even I'm guilty of sometimes not using my time wisely--look for my tip on social media! But overall this series contains hard-won truths on how to make writing a bigger part of your life. I hope it clarifies the publishing guidelines, professional etiquette, and protocols you may have been unsure about in the past. More than anything, I hope it puts you on track toward opportunities you may not have imagined.
Being argumentative and questioning and editor's rejection can really make a bad impression. Writers shouldn't be in the business of hounding editors about why their work wasn't accepted for publication. Acceptance rates are typically pretty low no matter your genre. Editors are busy people and many aren't paid all that much--particularly editors of literary journals. Some editors work for free simply because they love the mission of the journal or magazine.
If your work isn't accepted for publication, try to move on from the rejection rather than demanding answers. Sometimes editors may give a little feedback about why your piece wasn't a good fit, but generally writers receive little information in regards to why their work wasn't accepted.
The fact is, publishing is a pretty small world. If you start complaining about an editor or a journal online (especially on social media), this reflects badly on you. You don't look all that professional anymore. And believe me, other editors will take note of your negative venting, too. You don't want to hurt your chances of getting accepted just because of one bad publishing experience.
Rather than dwelling on the negative, try to be happy for other people's success. You'd want them to be proud of your acceptance later on, right? Don't be bitter and negative--especially online. Do NOT vent on twitter. Trust an editor's judgment. Many of these people working at literary journals and for magazines are pursuing graduate degrees in English and/ or Creative Writing, so they are qualified to read your work and make a call on your work. Many journals employ several readers before a call is made on whether or not to publish any given piece, so this is not just one person's decision, it is likely at least two or three person's collaborative decision. The best thing you can do is accept whatever decision is made and keep on writing.
Tasha Cotter, @TashCotter, is a poet and fiction writer based in Lexington, Kentucky. She is the author of two chapbooks of poetry and the full-length collection, Some Churches (Gold Wake Press, 2013). You can find her online at www.tashacotter.com.