A long, long time ago I submitted The Unbearable Burden of Beauty to a famous English horror writer's anthology, Holy Horrors. After waiting for months, I finally wrote him a letter inquiring on the status of the submission. He wrote back:
Good Lord but you've waited a long time. My many, many apologies! I'm afraid your story got shuffled into an email folder I never look into, and, until just today, went unread by me. I did enjoy it, Craig; the writing is good and the characterizations quite good, but I'm afraid it's not going to find a place in the anthology. I wish, after all this time, that I could give you better news: if you don't mind, I'd like to get your address and send you a free copy of the anthology, anyway, though its publication won't be for at least another year, as a way of apologizing for keeping you in a fog all this time.
If you'd rather not receive a copy of the anthology, I understand completely.
You're a good writer, Craig. I've little doubt you'll find a home for the story.
Again, my huge apologies!
(Famous English Horror Writer)
I wrote back:
Mr. (Famous English Horror Writer):
The reason for my delay was that after 20 years of rejection slips, I have learned that the divine right of editors is even greater than the divine right of kings. ;-) Also, having heard through blogs that either you or your co-editor had delayed going through submissions because of personal situations, I was reluctant to bother either of you until I had heard otherwise.
Nonetheless, in spite of the turn of an unlucky card and the accidental misplacing of my manuscript, I do thank you for the kind words considering my writing and the offer of a free book when the anthology is published. However, concerning the latter, I do understand the nature of the bottom line and how hard it is to maintain a profit in today's market. If you wish, donate the offered copy to a venue that will get you the maximum promotion and advertising.
I look forward to the announcement of the next anthology you edit and I wish you success in your ventures.
I won't deny I'm rather sad about this, but c'est la vie. We don't make enemies for free.
And there will be a next time.