As an editor, you are forced to make many calls when putting together a magazine, with none more important than selecting the content that goes into the publication. When a submitter's story is rejected, much of the time they are not given an explanation, and that can be frustrating. As a working creative, critique is important to the growth of your business. I've asked around in the submissions-based magazine community for the main reasons why editors reject submissions, and the editors have spoken.
Daina Renton, FEROCE Magazine
"A total disregard for the style of the magazine. For example, we clearly state we love the weird and the dark but we get a lot of vanilla work." Additionally, Daina echoes the other editors in the big no-no of submission emails: "people who don't blind CC. I reply all and remind them they didn’t. It’s just not very Chanel to spam all publications with one email. It’s lazy."
Wayne Noir, RION Magazine
Wayne Noir of RION Magazine adds the frustration of double-submissions. "When submitting to any magazine, please submit to one at a time. It’s very frustrating for all editors when your submission has been accepted elsewhere and we have to change our piece." Adding to the issue of exclusivity, Wayne adds: "once your submission as been accepted, please don’t post on social accounts before the release of the issue." This is a frustration that many submissions-based editors deal with more often than one would hope–– finding the work they are excited to put out there, already shared.
Kurt Roth, HUF Magazine
When submitting to magazines, Kurt Roth of HUF Magazine suggests taking your time when submitting. "Not all publications' submission criteria and rules are the same. If you submit your work without reading through the publication's criteria and rules, you are likely going to get rejected." Echoing Daina's statements, Kurt reiterates: "mass e-mail submission is the worst thing you can do when submitting your work to publications. Most, if not all, publications prefer exclusivity. If we see the submission e-mail is sent to other publications as well, we will not even look at your submission. No matter how amazing it is!"
Ramona Atkin, LUCY'S Magazine
LUCY'S Magazine editor-in-chief Ramona Atkin comes at it from a high fashion point of view. Two of her reasons for not accepting editorials are "Not enough looks (5 or 6 minimum), and the editing/retouching could be better."
Christine Lunday, VOLITION Magazine
VOLITION editor Christine Lunday speaks to the overall quality of the submissions. "Quality control is what will get you a golden ticket in VOLITION. Be aware of the skill set of the team and make sure they can accomplish what you are envisioning. Select props, models, teams, accessories, locations, garments that all hold the same visual value as the next." Christine adds: "Under editing can be just has harmful as over editing. Its one of the first things I notice. It's the icing on the cake, the polish and its crucial that it is done in a way that is complimentary and not competitive."
Megan Breukelman, Atlas Magazine
To add my own two cents as an editor, I would say that following overly-popular editorial trends will cause me to reject a submission. If I've seen the same shot or concept four or five different times that day, there is a problem there. Don't follow the trends–– create something wonderful on your own.