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Author Topic: Rejection letters
Member # 1944

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Response to Wayward from another thread.

Form rejections are part of the short SF business (and probably the long SB business, too, for all that I know). Editors will tell you that the sheer volume of submissions means that they must minimize the time they take to respond, or else that is what they will be spending most of their time doing. Even if it's jotting down a single line like "This didn't work for me..."
Saying it's 'how things are done' doesn't really address whether the practice is a sensible one or not, though. Obviously, editors have to use their time wisely, but it seems to me that a small amount of extra time spent providing some very brief rationale would help the field and result in more time being saved overall. But, hey, I am an engineer, so I tend to think of things in that manner. [Wink]

It is not the job of an editor to criticize a story. Their job is to publish the magazine with the best stories they can find. If they decide to take some time to give a bit of advice, that is philanthropy on their part, because they aren't getting paid for it.
Sure, who could disagree with that? But I'm not talking criticism, I am talking about a very minor, one sentance (if that) explanation. 'Didn't hold my interest', 'prose was rough', 'characters not realistic', 'too long'; these are not major investments of time. These are things that every serious writer could use to improve and thus make all editors jobs easier. And it wouldn't hurt to say what page they stopped reading on, either.

Besides, you might be better off without it. I still remember Marion Zimmer Bradley's form-letter rejection years ago, where she said that she didn't care if my characters "lived or died or were swallowed by a volcano." Frankly, "unsuitable for us at this time" would have hurt less.
No pain, no gain, though. I got good at playing FPS games by getting my ass handed to be by my betters, and asking for more even though losing tastes like dirt. And you can be certain that they gave it to me, an all-you-can-eat serving of ass beatings. [Wink]

You know, if short SF was a thriving media form, then all I have to say would be so much wind. Money talks and BS walks. A producer at EA driving a Ferrarri has a certain credibility if he says, "This is how it works, the cash keeps rolling in, so STFU and get to the back of the line, dreamer." But I don't see many SF editors driving Ferrarri's. In my brief time looking at the short SF market, it looks like most operations are hand-to-mouth.

But this gets into another topic I will post on soon.

Posts: 594 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 1809

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I read Soothsayer and I loved it.

I know why it wasn't suitable for Intergalactic Lactic Acid or whatever it is:

Too Adult.

This is a magazine that wants to be Parent Approved and Young Teen Friendly.

The story is great, and I hope you don't give up on it. Send it out some more.

Another note: It's quite long. It seems like it can't decide whether it's a Short or an aspiring Novella.

Is it possible to pare it down? If you can condense it into a super slick, tight tale that thrums with tension like carbotitanium rigging on a sunstormed sea, then you might just have a short that flirts with Publishing Houses for a novel length treatment.

As long as we're talking cliches: Never Give Up. Never Surrender!

[ December 12, 2005, 02:52 AM: Message edited by: canadian ]

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Member # 1944

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Hey, thanks for the kind words, Canadian. And, yeh, I think the dark nature could be a problem, but that's just the sort of thing I feel editors should be telling people, so they don't get the next dark story, you know?

As for length, man, I am just stuck on novella length, and I need to practice writing shorter, less involved stuff. I already did a good trim on Soothsayer when the original; I cut it by almost 20%. So now there is not much fat left to trim. Worse, the parts I had thought I might trim end up being the ones people say the really like, like the conversation with Mermandimus. It could go, but it cuts the heart out of the story, in that it's a straight action piece with no contemplation of anything bigger. I think it is what it is, and while I might do some rephrasing, it's largely at the right size for the story it tells. (shrug)

And then the other one I am circulating is 20k words, got it over at Balck Gate right now.... KE never sent it out to the group here. [Wink]

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