With as many short stories as I have written, I will submit outside genre fiction, to publications such as The New Yorker, Harper's and - in this case - Tin House.
Now, Tin House is one of the top fiction venues, period, so when I submit a story I am willing to be patient. This week I received a rejection from them for a story I submitted (using Submittable) in Oct. 2015.
You might think waiting 16 months for a reply is unacceptable, but in light of how many submissions they must get and how stiff the competition is, it's completely understandable.
And their reply was very nice:
"Unfortunately, we have decided to pass on this submission.
"Thank you, also, for your patience in waiting to hear back from us. Submittable generally makes managing the many submissions we receive each year much easier, but the staggering number of submissions we received last year means it is still a long process.
"We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future—and responding to it in a more reasonable amount of time."
Two notes here:
First, at least they replied. The New Yorker is so swamped, they simply state if you don't hear from them in six months you can assume you were rejected.
Back when The New Yorker still sent out rejection slips, I received a couple with handwritten notes encouraging me to submit again.
Second, a while back I commented that the number of venues which send me rejections with encouragements to submit again seems to have dropped in the past couple of years.
Referring back to Tin House's comments, the fact remains the top genre venues - folks like Asimov's, Clarkesword, F&SF and such - still drop in those little nuggets of encouragement. They're pros and act professionally.
I got another rejection this week - again, from a Top Tier venue, with the comment - following the mention of what might be considered a spoiler "Points for originality. I'm sorry the story didn't end up working for us."
Any feedback from editors is helpful, even with rejections. At the very least, it lets you know you're on the right track.