First up, with the dubious honor of inaugurating the Rate the Rejection series: the Virginia Quarterly Review.
Now, VQR is probably my favorite literary journal of the moment. I'm fond of it not just because it hails from my hometown, Charlottesville, VA, but because editor Ted Genoways has completely overhauled it in a way that I believe demonstrates a new model for a successful, high-quality publication. VQR is innovative, sports full-color photos and graphics and consistently features an eclectic array of writers and styles that somehow always works perfectly. I've ordered subscriptions for friends and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. Seriously, you should do it now -- here's a link to the VQR website.
Getting my rejection note from VQR was hard, but not unexpected. I can only imagine that, with their newfound success, they are getting truckloads of submissions. But is their rejection note as professional as their product? To the slip!
Rating Summary: Printed on 3x5" cardstock, VQR's slip gets points for paper quality. It's not flimsy and the print is clear. The language itself is straightforward and succinct. But, in the end, what's most depressing about rejection slips is their cold, generic quality, and VQR's professionalism only seems to enhance that. I realize they can't give personalized feedback to everyone, but even a short hand-written note, along the lines of "sorry, totally wrong for us," or "maybe next time" would do. Getting something this perfunctory and uninformative seems especially harsh given how long they took to get back to me: five months! Sorry VQR, that'll cost you.
The Grade: C+. Just a touch above average. But responding faster might have gotten them within striking range of a B.
Click here for more about the Rate the Rejection series and links to other rejections I've rated.