Shadows & Tall Trees is a one-person operation. It is also an occasional endeavour, meaning I try to fit in work on the journal around family, a full-time job, chores, writing, responsibilities, etc. As such, there are times when I’m not working on the journal, and not reading submissions. That’s why I changed the guidelines to ask potential contributors to simply query first before sending any material. I will almost always say “sure, send it along,” unless I’m on vacation, or I’ve filled the latest issue, or I’ve died. Please just query first.
If I’ve rejected your story, I’ve never been one to suggest to authors to buy a copy of the journal. I understand that writers can’t buy sample copies of every magazine to which they submit. To that end, though, I would expect potential contributors to at least read the guidelines. When I say I’m not interested in the familiar tropes of the genre – vampires, zombies – well, I’m not interested. So, when I receive a submission of a vampire story that has been previously published from an author that hasn’t queried beforehand, that tells me you don’t value my time. Please, read the guidelines. They are pretty straight-forward.
I generally respond to submissions within a day. Since I average 5 – 7 submissions a day, my response is, yes, often a form rejection. A few people, upon receiving a quick form rejection, have written me back in a passive aggressive manner complaining/whinging that I didn’t give their submission a proper chance. Please don’t this. It simply isn’t good form.