So today I had to perform the worst job that comes along with running a magazine. I just sent 227 rejection notices.
The much better part comes next, when I tell 10 people their entries made the final round of judging. I'll be doing that later today.
I've received plenty of rejections myself, and being a person who sends them doesn't change the disappointment I feel when someone tells me what I wrote isn't useful to them. The difference is, I really believe that's all a rejection is telling me: This story doesn't suit a magazine's tastes.
I've read intriguing debates about the best way to write a rejection notice. There is no consensus, but the majority opinion seemed to be to keep it short, simple, and direct, while never saying anything about the author. That's why ours say "your entry" didn't make the final cut, and encourage people to keep reading and writing.
Still, I know that someone out there probably sent us the first story they've ever written, and they just got a rejection notice, and their inflated hopes just got hammered flat. That's not fun for anybody, but it comes with being a writer and with being an editor/publisher. I don't see how that will ever change, so we just have to thicken our skins a bit and get used to it without ever becoming obnoxious jerks in the process.