Monday, 21 January 2008

The Subtle Art of Being Rejected

Mixed feelings today.

Those of you with the canniness to read the title of today's post can probably already hazard a guess about what I'm going to be talking about.

Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine rejected my story Of The Father with a semi-polite slip of paper informing me that the story didn't really 'grip them' but urging me to continue sending my stuff to them. Pretty standard fare for a rejection note really and it has been added to the pile.

Murky Depths then wrote in soon after to, this time by email, to tell me that they too were going to pass on a story I sent them, RWBW, but with a more interesting response.

A bit of background needed here, I think.

I sent Murky Depths the story Contract a few months before, they rejected it but the editor who took the time said 'You have a gift for dialogue and I'd like to see more of your work.' Very encouraging, I grinned for about a week and told anyone who would listen (that's a lie, I just told everyone) what they had said.

With RWBW I tried to Utilise My Contacts in the Industry and sent the story straight to that editor instead of to their submissions email address. A month went by and still I didn't hear anything, their promised response time is 4 weeks. I chased but still received no reply until I sent a strong worded email to their submissions email. Not too strong worded just a 'look guys, still not heard anything, going to have to assume its a no' type message.

I got a reply quite quickly from Terry Martin the Managing Editor telling me that I'd been wrong to send it straight to an editor and should use the submission email like everyone else. So much for utilising contacts, I thought, feeling a bit of a prick. He did say though that he was feeling kind and would put my story at the top of the slush pile and I would hear within the week what they're decision was. That was two weeks ago.

So now they've rejected me and the lateness was understandable as the email came from Terry himself with notes from some of the other editors as the story had been good enough to go around the desks and hadn't just fallen at the first hurdle.

Here's what they had to say:

"This is really good. Very tense, the ending unexpected. Though I'm not sure if the theme is right for MD."

"This one seems to set up the tension well and the ending, though perhaps sudden, is a little different, but I don't know that it's a Murky Depths story."

"This has a good idea, but it takes an awful long time for it to play out. It might be better if the story started with the man coming in. Plus, it's very dialogue-heavy, and a lot of the narrative feels like it's just to pad the dialogue out. I'm not sure it's ready for publication at this time."

So there you have it. Very encouraging and some food for thought.

My only regret when I'm rejected is that really there are so few places to send short stories. There's maybe five big magazines and one story doesn't necessarily suit all of them. So say you have a story that appeals to only one of them, either by genre or subject matter or even word length, then it just takes that one person to reject it and the story feels sunk because you hardly have anywhere else to turn. Does anyone know of any good shorty story mags out there?

It's sad that short story publishing just isn't the industry I've been told it used to be.

But those are the breaks, I guess, I can either piss and moan or get back to work...

Back to work it is.

Thanks for reading.

Peace out.

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