Ask the Editors: Why Didn’t You Accept My Submission?

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.

Feeling unstoppable now that you’ve got the inside scoop? Get your submissions ready and look over my handy checklist of do’s and don’ts.

  1. says:

    That is really great information. I’ll have to keep this in mind if I ever send in an article.

  2. wow I must say that this is a very interesting post. I wondered since then every time I read a magazine how editors published a good write up and what are the qualifications for an accepted one. These are good to know!

  3. says:

    I think this also applies to a lot of other business and industries out there. Some people just need to learn to be in the shoes of one who works over a thousand submissions and/or requests. Customer service can train one.

  4. says:

    It is really interesting to see what editors really think of submissions. It seems that they are all on the same page with a pitch being unique to them.

  5. says:

    this is very interesting info…I’ve never looked at it from that side before…thanks

  6. Be you-nique and don’t double submit. I cannot even imaging submitting the same post multiple times. Sounds like a great way to go from A-list to blacklist. And… know your audience. These are all great tips.

  7. says:

    So interesting, I have friends who work as a fashion photographer and as fashion stylist. I will pass this information to them, I think they’ll find it informative.

  8. I’ve always wondered why certain articles/photos were not accepted by magazines and such, and this was a great insight as to the reasons why this might be so. On that note, I think it’s important to submit unique content to each of the different companies you’re showing your work to.

  9. Wow, this was so interesting to read! I loved the variety of peoples opinions you got. Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. says:

    This is such a good topic! Often it’s hard for editors to tell why submissions are rejected, but if the submitters will listen and learn, it can be such a good thing. 🙂

  11. says:

    I’m not an editor but I can see these all being true. As someone with a blog I do get submissions…I’m not currently taking them and it says so on my site but the right pitches I consider but the pitches where they misspell my name or just call me the wrong name have been the pitches that turn me off the most and don’t get a response.

  12. this is such an interesting and fresh perspective! I love their feedback!

  13. This is an eye-opening post, plus it is very interesting to write something like this!

    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.

    This right here is everything. I make it a point not to follow the trends but rather to be a trendsetters. Thanks for reaffirming this in me through your post! Awesome post!

  15. Rose says:

    I have never tried to submit something but these are very good tips. I get that you should proofread it and now the subliss ion rule prior to sending it. However I can only imagine how frustrating it is to be rejected multiple times.

  16. Interesting. I currently work with a local magazine since my blog is hyperlocal, but I will admit that it’s not always easy. Some magazines would rather have their staff submit content than to hire freelancers.

  17. Crystak says:

    Very interesting outlook and perspective in this article.

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