What bugs me is the careless, even cruel way the work of the writer is rejected. I understand the logistics. When the publishers of an anthology requires 12 or 20 stories and yet receives 1,000 submissions the odds of acceptance are quite long, around 50/1, I suspect, and I dare say they do have to reject stories they might have accepted if they had wanted 30 or 40 titles for their book. It's just that what you receive in reply is an explanation as to why they cannot specify why you were rejected. I understand time-constraints and one man can only do so much in the working day, even if that is 25% less than a woman can achieve. But if the writer is to learn anything from these rejections and improve for the experience, a little more than 'well done, chap, better luck next time' is required.
All that is required is an industry standardised rejection slip that gives the 5 or 10 main reasons stories get rejected. A simple tick would inform and educate. Pace too slow. Too many characters. Drifted from theme. Poor ending.
Rejection does not need to be brutal to the writer and a chore for the publisher or judge. A simple tick will suffice. J.K.Rowling suffered rejection. The Beatles were rejected. It happens as much to the great and the good as it does to the ordinary.
I have just had a story about a lesbian couple rejected. I suspect it was because there was no sex in the story. But I don't know, and never shall. Though you couldn't have a box on a standardised form with 'not enough sex', I suspect. Or 'a story with lesbians should be graphic if not downright pornographic'. It might just be a poor story. I might just be an old bloke writing in a young man's world, my stories as outdated as my musical tastes. I'll give it a few weeks and read it again. The hurt will have subsided by then.