I’ll Take the Express Rejection, Please

Letters of Marque asks,

Let us suppose that you are a law professor, and that we decide to reject your piece within hours of receiving it.

OK, so far this sounds all too plausible.

Would you be offended if you received the rejection right away? If so, how long would you want to wait before receiving a rejection?

Please note that this need not imply that we didn't read your piece; it might also mean that we thought it interesting enough to pluck from the pile, but then decided to reject it later on.

I want to know right away. Unless you are willing to send substantive comments, I don't care that much why you rejected it — although if it's just because your issue was full, then it would be handy to be told when are the best times to (re)submit articles. Rejecting me now saves me the bother of phoning you for a rush read once I get another offer if I'm playing that game. Or, if I am working the system in a different way, and sending out only a few copies at first to save paper, knowing that I bombed helps me work out when it's time to send out that second wave.1, 2

But that's easy for me to say: it's not that my ego is, in relative terms, necessarily any more hardy than average, although I've been accused of that. No, the fact is that these days I rarely submit articles to law reviews any more. Nearly 100% of my articles are solicited for symposia (and these days I have to very regretfully turn down more requests than I can accept if I want each one to be sufficiently original). Yes, I know how lucky I am. And, yes, it can't last. Can it?

1 You can play this either way. Start low, get some acceptances and then ask for rush reads for the 'better' journals to whom you just sent the article — on the theory that it's more likely to be rejected, or disfavored on rush, if it has been lying around. Or, you can be arrogant, start high, and if that doesn't work then work your way down the pile. This can save more paper, but means you don't get to engage in as much strategic behavior.

2 There's something about writing about law reviews that makes me want to footnote.

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