March 29, 2007
Got two more rejection letters on my story, though neither really felt like a rejection.
Paradox (The Magazine of Historyical and Speculative Fiction) didn’t provide a rejection letter, but did say they weren’t accepting submission. Apparently the magazine “is temporarily closed to submissions from October 1, 2006 through June 1, 2006,” but “you are welcome to re-submit your story once the magazine opens to submissions again.”
No big deal – in truth, I don’t think they’d accept the story even if I resubmitted it. However, I appreciate the fact that someone opened my story, added their form letter, stuck it in the self-addressed stamped envelope, and mailed it back to me. A small gesture but appreciated.
Hadrosaur (aka Tales of the Talisman) sent a very encouraging rejection letter. It began with the statement “With regret, I must inform you that we’ve decided not to purchase this work at this time.” It didn’t say “your story has no plot” or “we’ll never buy it” (though that’s kind of implied) but now’s not the right time.
The letter continued with a checklist of”the more common reasons we are forced to turn stories away:”
- The plot didn’t fully engage us – either this is a variation of a plot we’ve seen too often or the conflicet simply didn’t grab and hold our interest.
- The characters didn’t work for us. Better dialogue and description is often the cure.
- The use of language – grammar, spelling, word choice and/or sentence structure – was weak.
- Not enough science fiction or fantasy content.
- Technology, magic, devices not well utilized – i.e. the “tools” used by the characters were either not suitable because they seemed too derivative of other SF/Fantasy universes or didn’t strike us as believable.
- Story too violent for us – i.e. too bloody/gory, involved violence to children, or we simply felt was too strong in tone for this publication.
- Sexual content inappropriate for us – we do allow sexual content, but it’s our call whether it was sufficiently tasteful and appropriate for Tales of the Talisman.
- Story was over 6000 words. We will occasionally consider slightly longer, but please query at the address above before sending.
- We are currently overstocked and closed to all submissions. We will reopen on ______. If possible,please check our website for updates.
Only the first item on the list was checked off. By inference, the story has the following things going for it:
- My characters work
- I kin spell good!!
- Just enough sci-fi
- Technology “tools” utilized well
- Not too bloody/gory
- Not outright pornography
- Under 6000 words
- They’re submission doors are wide open
The checklist is an interesting commentary on the other submissions they may get (I envision lots of gory, misspelled, vampire porn). The comment “The plot didn’t fully engage us” sounds reasonable – The Magazine of Science and Fiction also commented that the tale didn’t grab their interest.
Hadrosaur’s letter continuted with a nice handwritten note, assumedly from editor David Lee Summers:
I liked your exploration of AI’s, but I’m agraid the overall plot didn’t grab me quite strongly enough to buy. Best of luck with “The Perfect Toast” and please feel free to try again with another.
The note may have taken less than a minute to write, but I appreciate the fact that someone actually read my story, considered it, offered helpful criticism, and took the time to write a note.
The letter continued with a nice conclusion to let the author down easy:
Note: We receive far more stories than we can use during our reading periods. As a results, we have to turn away quality works simply because of limited space. That said, please continue to write and submit. Just because this submission did not work for us doesn’t mean that it won’t work with another market or that another submission of yours won’t work for us.
Kind of the “It’s not you, it’s me” of writing rejection letters.
The criticism on the “overall plot” is something I’ll have to work on. I think for my next story I’ll try outlining the bare bones of the plot (1. David wakes up, 2. David meets with coworkers, etc.) before writing – just getting the “who does what” straight in my own head. I worked on this story so much I think the plot went awry – could’ve been reorganized to be more interesting.
Only a few more “rejections” to go, and this particular story will have run its course. Got to get going on the next one!