Monday, October 7, 2013

Editor's Notes & Rejection Letters

A wise editor once advised me to "never give out detailed rejection letters," and after more than a year of serving as an editor I understand and appreciate their advice more than ever. Mind you, I knew enough to avoid giving out lengthy rejections from the start, so I didn't run into a lot of the problems that other editors have noted over the years.

I'd like to take a moment to assure every Martinus Publishing submitter, both accepted and rejected, that your entire story was read before any decision was made (in some cases, they're read twice or three times).  Yet, some people may feel that they are being ignored or that their writing wasn't really given consideration, as I do not generally go into detail about why I reject a story.  That isn't the case, and I'll explain why.

There's one big issue you run into when writing up extensive rejection letters, and that involves the emotional reaction from the writer in question.  In some cases, a writer will get very nasty and upset over things that you pick apart from their story, and most editors do not have the time or interest in arguing with a writer about why a story was rejected. 

These days, if a writer wants feedback about a story, they can find any number of online critique groups or utilize their friends and acquaintances to improve their story.  It isn't an editor's job to be a "beta-reader."  It is our job to find stories suitable for our publication(s), and we generally need to devote ourselves to that, above and beyond giving out explanations for why we don't want to accept a particular story.

It is very time consuming to point out what I like or dislike about every story, so I reserve that for stories that are what I'd call "borderline," ones that could fit with a little work/adjustment.  Once in a while, I do find a story that is almost right, but needs something different to make it work.  If it is a minor revision, I sometimes do that, myself, but if it has a major creative impact on the overall story I want to leave it up to the writer.  This is when I will point out a change I'd like to be made; when I would like a writer to make a change and resubmit.

Altered America needs more exciting
 alternate history stories.
Deadline is December 31st 2013!
In a lot of cases, I will let a story go due to my personal preference (it didn't grab my attention, the theme wasn't what I was looking for, etc...), so there is nothing technically "wrong" with it.  In these cases, a detailed rejection wouldn't work, since it's all subjective.  Another editor might love a story that I found uninteresting.  Either way, most writers aren't looking to totally rework a story to satisfy a small-press editor's taste.  If so, they're probably better off writing a totally new story and submitting that.

It's a hard job searching through slush, but somebody's got to do it.  Right now, I'm hoping to see some more submissions for VFW & Altered America.  The deadline has been pushed to the end of the year, so hopefully we'll see some more thrilling adventures submitted.

1 comment:

  1. It's nice to hear the words of an editor for a change.
    Thank you.