A couple of weeks ago I sent a few poems to Shenandoah, a journal published from Washington and Lee University. When I got an envelope back from them this weekend, I steeled myself for the rejection slip and hoped that it wouldn't be something so awful as to undermine all the positive things I'd heard about editor R.T. Smith.
Interestingly, though the letter was response (of sorts) to my submission, it wasn't a rejection. Instead, it thanked me for my submission, reiterated the journal's typical response time and requested that I consider subscribing. All in all, I found it well-written and considerate.
Now, I realize that this is a solicitation more than anything else, but it's also a clever way of acknowledging receipt of a writer's work, showing a little respect for the writing they've received, and setting expectations for what will happen next. Moreover, by pitching the subscription offer now, Shenandoah avoids the awkwardness of rejecting the work and begging for subscriptions simultaneously--a situation in which many other magazines find themselves.
The communicator in me rejoices. A round of finger snaps for the good editor, please.