First, a necessary timeline and some relevant details. On 7/22/13 I submitted a short essay to Red Branch Journal.
Here’s their take on response time: Due to the number of submissions received, please know a response may take several weeks, but respond we will.
It’s possible, of course, that the editors of Red Branch Journal have some obscure idea or oddly private notion of what several means. I indicated, as I always do, that my essay was also currently under consideration at other literary magazines. Not that they’re opposed to simultaneous submissions. At least, nothing in their guidelines prohibits such.
On 8/1/13 I got this absurd request:
Thank you for your submission to Red Branch. We look forward to reading your work—please note that it may be several weeks before you hear from us, as reading each submission takes some time. In the meantime, please inform us immediately if you are seeking publication of your work elsewhere or if it has already been accepted.
I replied minutes later that yes indeed my essay was under consideration elsewhere.
Several months go by.
On 11/12/13 I inquired about the status of my essay, although I was fairly certain they didn’t want it.
I got a reply on 11/18/13:
Thank you for the note, and sorry for the delay in response. We’re wrapping up the last of our submissions, and will have a decision to you as soon as we can. Thanks again for checking in. We’ll let you know shortly.
Ok. Enough nonsense. Pretty obvious to me that my work wasn’t being seriously considered. So on 12/12/13 I withdrew my essay.
On 1/21/14 I got a canned rejection:
We apologize for the length of time it has taken for us to respond. Due to the volume of submissions we received, giving each piece the care it deserves and in turn replying to all queries took much longer than expected. While we are grateful for your submission to Red Branch, we will not be including it in our forthcoming winter issue. Nonetheless, we wish you the best of luck with your writing and hope you consider our pages for any future work.
Sorry for the inconvenience. This cheap, effortless response shows profound disrespect—galling disdain—for words, for the potency and perils of composition. What many of these editors (dreadfully inaccurate title) fail to realize is that yes, contributors also include those whose work is turned down (for whatever reason). There are simple, effective ways to limit the number of submissions received other than by exhibiting outright indifference and petty condescension toward authors whose offering doesn’t make the cut. I’m willing to make things a little easier for the staff at Red Branch Journal. They don’t have to worry about ever reading anything more from me, that’s definite.