Advice from an editor: submissions

A friend wrote me and asked the following:

“Hope you don’t mind a submitter-type question. There are a couple of journals that I’ve been rejected by more than once. I’d like to keep submitting there because these are journals I admire and where I think my work (in general) kind of fits, but I wonder if journals have an “oh no not her again pile” for folks who submit more than once with no success. I mean my submissions are normal — I don’t put anything about the story in the cover letter and I don’t send peanut butter sandwiches — but I still wonder if there is an “auto reject” pile that someone might go in, at say, The ____ Review, after a couple of rejections. What are your thoughts? Thanks for your perspective on this….”

I asked her if I could post her question, since I hear variations on this a lot.  Here’s my response:

“In short: I wouldn’t worry too hard. We get so many submissions that we mostly only remember the crazies. I do know a couple of names of frequent submitters who aren’t crazy; those are people who have new stories or poems in within 48 hours of their most recent rejection. I think that constitutes “a bit much” (though, being the softie I am, I’m still rooting for them to land one).

Journals that use electronic submissions can track all your old submissions when you send them stuff, and can even go back and read comments on your previous stories to see if you’re coming along or if your stories are getting worse.

I’d say a good rule of thumb is that unless the magazine has a policy to the contrary, waiting 3-4 months after your most recent rejection to send again is the most appropriate course of action. (Unless they’re sending personal rejections encouraging another submission.)”

So, what do you think?  Comments welcome.