Frustrating isn't it when we get those 'thanks but no thanks' letters and emails. Is our work rubbish, OK but not what they're looking for right now, brilliant but on a theme they've recently used? If we're very lucky we might get a line or two of explanation which is of some help but few editors have time for even that. They're there to edit the magazine - not our submissions!
Feedback can be very useful to a writer so if you can, join a writing group or class (there are versions of both online as well as out there in the 'real' world). Alternatively some competitions offer a critique service (usually for a small fee)
If you'd like some feedback and advice from a publisher pop along to The Fiction Clinic. Could be just the thing if you're struggling with a particular issue or have a section that just isn't working - and it's free!
Once you've got your feedback and sorted out any issues you'll be able to enter short story competitions such as this dark one. Prize £50 plus five submissions 'win' publication in the magazine but there's no fee paid. All winners will get a free ecopy of the mag though.
Or you might like to try this much lighter one(prize $1,000 plus 9 more of $100 Amazon giftcards) Or perhaps a poetry contest (the prize for this is £1,000)
I thought I had the perfect photo (of a dark dungeon) to illustrate this but when I found it I saw I'd used flash so it wasn't dark and you can't really tell it's a dungeon so here's a picture of some birds with rather nice feet instead.