Dear Miss Snark,
As someone who works w/friends at a zine, I get a few submissions a week. The work is not as stressful as something like agenting or editing, but there's a problem I've run into that I don't know how to tackle––maybe you have some advice.
There's a pretty regular submitter, "Tory." Tory first submitted a story a few months ago that wasn't good enough; form rejection. A month passes. I get the same story from Tory, completely unchanged, with the same cover letter saying "I submitted this awhile ago but was rejected...hope you like it now." Of course, I'm the only one here, so I use the same form rejection again.
Fast-forward to now, two months later. I have an e-mail from Tory in my inbox, with the same story in the same words and a more irate cover letter. I don't want to bring the guy down, but "We cannot accept your submission at this time" does not mean "We'll accept it later." I know first-hand that rejection sucks, but I can't help noticing Tory is in desperate need of a clue gun or some personal attention...or both.
How can I be diplomatic about this without giving him too much hope or reason to depair? Is there a balance? If so, where does it lie?
Wait, you asked Miss Snark for advice on how to be diplomatic???
Hang on, I think KY might be laughing too hard to actually fetch me a new keyboard after the coffee out the nose on that idea.
If you want diplomatic, you gotta go hang out with the nice girls. Hint: Here and Here.
On the other hand, if you really want Miss Snark's advice, you simply keep sending him form rejection letters. His mental health is not your responsiblity. His rendition of a temper tantrum on the floor of the grocery store at 5pm in the express checkout line right in front of the lady clutching a box of feminine hygiene products does not require anything from you other than "sorry, not right for us".
If you really really really insist on interacting with this guy, you're making a mistake. There's NO answer other than yes that will get him off your back, out of your mailbox, and away from your slush pile. This is why Dog invented the "junk email" file. His email should go on that list.
I'm reminded again and again that people do weird ass things.
I've probably done more than my share as well.
Consider it grist for your novel and move on.