Love Notes

A celebration of rejection letters, this page exhibits quotes from thank you letters we’ve gathered over the years as part our national award winning literary journal’s annual writing contests. These aren’t just any thank you’s: these authors are praising the editors who rejected them for executing it with grace, helpful critiques, and personal notes. These authors are sometimes even grateful they weren’t published–because they realized they could do better and win a monetary prize in one of our annual writing contests.

We have a surprising amount of love that comes back our way after we reject writing submissions entered in our annual writing contests. This is due to the fact that we don’t just reject writers with an email or text, like a faint-hearted breakup. Our bold and thorough team of editors writes individualized notes to all the folks who submit, and we soften the punch with a complimentary copy of the next magazine. Just another reason to submit to Alligator Juniper: it boosts your morale (not that you need any of that).


“Strange as this may seem, I want to thank you also for rejecting the piece. You identified parts of the story that didn’t seem to work, and these were often the ones that I struggled with most in that leave in/leave out phase of writing. When I revise next, I shall keep your notes handy. More importantly, your keen mind, which obviously knows a good story when it sees one, saved me from having something published that really wasn’t up to par. I’m looking forward to next year’s contest!”

“Thanks for reading my story and most importantly for sending me the nicest, most caring rejection I’ve ever received!… I will go and reread the story and revise accordingly—as I hope that it finds a home.”

“Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know that my poem was a semifinalist in the contest! I really enjoyed hearing your favorite lines. It was just the encouragement I needed.”

“Thank you for your helpful comments on my short story. Your feedback will help me shape a much better story.”

“I feel disappointed that my story won’t appear in the upcoming issue of Alligator Juniper, but I appreciate your taking the time to write me a personal response. Thanks also for your critical suggestion about the story. I’ll certainly take it to heart as I move forward with this and other stories.”

“It’s rare to get any kind of personal response from editors these days, and I appreciate it. And I appreciate a piece of good, old fashioned parchment upon which one’s rejection is printed. I mean that sincerely. It’s just not the same to stack up a bunch of homogenized email rejections, each one as formless and bland as the next.”

“Thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed personal response to my essay. I appreciate the feedback. That you took the time speaks well of your journal’s care for its authors, so, yes, I am inclined to submit again. Thank you for your encouragement.”

“Thanks for your critique of my story. You were spot on about the emphasis being too much on the past, not enough on the present. I knew there was something not right, but it took your insight to clarify what it was. Now I have an idea where to go with it, so thank you!”
  And two months later…
“In December you sent me a very astute note on the story that I submitted to the Alligator Juniper fiction competition. Your observation about the lack of the past in the hiking trip inspired me to re-visit the story…. Thanks for your time and attention.”

“I was very pleased to receive your letter with your comments on my story. It was good to learn that you enjoyed reading it, but it was even better to get a real answer to every author’s question Why wasn’t my story chosen as a winner?.”

“Thank you for taking the time to include kind remarks and suggestions about my short fiction that I submitted to the 2012 Contest. I believe the criticisms have helped me see this story with fresh eyes. I am sorry to have missed a chance to have Alligator Juniper publish it this year, but I appreciate the new opportunity to improve it. Taking into consideration the comments from your editorial staff, I have revised it and enclosed a copy so that you can see that the time you spent on this story resulted in a better story. I have sent out the revised story to several contests and have hopes for it.”

“I’m grateful for the chance to enter your poetry contest. I look forward each year for the chance to have someone else to read my poems and tell me what they think about my writing. Each year I try a lot harder to show the emotion I feel. Thank you so much.”
-Writer from Prison

“I entered a piece in Alligator Juniper’s writing contest, and just wanted to thank you very much for the kind note that you sent me. I have to tell you that I LOVE your suggestion for a new title for the piece! I very much appreciate that you took the time and made the effort to acknowledge my work. It means a lot to me. I’m new to the world of writing, and am blown away by the quality and number of literary publications that are out there. I’m very glad to have found Alligator Juniper, and I look forward to entering next year’s contest!”

“I sincerely appreciate the time and attention given to the piece and the detailed feedback was most generous. I hope to put that to some use.”

“I again thank you for the creative energy and purposeful jolt your comments provided.”


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