Yesterday I got a personal rejection letter from Scott H. Andrews, editor-in-chief of Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I figure that means I am doing at least one thing at least somewhat alright; normally, I get my personal rejections via Kate Marshall, the assistant editor.
Although Marshall and Andrews are, as far as I can tell, neither more nor less rockin' than one another--their magazine being solid, their endeavours worthy of heroic titles, their editorial photographs suitably majestic--they are considerably more rockin' than most editors. Why? Because they always send me personal rejections (and not just me--check Duotrope's tracking results). I don't want to put down every other editor in the business, not least because there are many of them, definitely to some degree because they nearly all produce good magazines and good novels, and especially because, if I was an editor, I would enter all correspondence into form letters myself (being a member of Critters has taught me what utter drivel can be produced by those who purport to be writers, and I suspect I am as guilty as any other). But there's no changing the fact that, as an author attempting to reach a level of non-drivel, it's incredibly awesome, perhaps even magical, to receive routine criticism from real editors.
The rejections I get from BCS are split two ways: half of them provide useful criticism that I can actually apply to my work; the other half merely provide a reason, but not one that can be usefully fitted to a re-tooling of the piece or applied in any methodical fashion toward future writings. But the effort is still what pleases me, and the personal touch makes me strangely elated to receive rejections from BCS.
Perhaps my appreciation for the editorial efforts of Marshall and Andrews are not due to their ability to help me progress as a writer, but only because they are the only editors who dare to prove that they actually read what I send them. That in itself is some kind of affective affirmation.