Yesterday two stories were rejected. Both stories are already on the way to other magazines, well, they will as soon as I finish this post and drop the second one off at the post office.
Two rejections on the same day, both arriving by postal mail, gave me the opportunity to compare how different editors handle rejecting a story.
The stories were sent to two different magazines, approximately two months apart.
Both magazines used a simple, and very similar, form rejection letter. The forms included lists of possible reasons for rejection, and other information.
The first noted the story name and date on the form, the second included my story’s cover page as part of the return and hand wrote an apology for the tardiness of the reply on the form–evidently they have had editorial staff changes. Additionally the second editor underlined the reason for the rejection on the form–it just didn’t work for the magazine–and also circled “try me again”.
The first is one of the top fantasy magazines, the second is a well respected mid-level fantasy magazine.
I learned nothing about how my story was received from the first magazine’s rejection. The story has fantasy and alt-history elements in it. Their guidelines are unclear if this kind of story is what they would accept. I will keep sending these kinds of stories to them, because their letter informs me that my story “may or may not” have been rejected for any of the reasons they listed on their form.
I learned a good bit from a few simple pen strokes from the second magazine’s rejection. This story, and presumably other stories of similar vein, are not what the magazine is looking for. They liked it well enough to encourage me to send more stories to them. And when I do you can bet that I will be more selective in what I send them, and not bother them with stories similar to the one they rejected.
I think I have said before that I like the idea of a rubric form rejection letter. A list of reasons for rejection that the editor can check mark if it applies. Easy for the editor, informative for the writer. The second magazine basically did this with a simple underlining of a phrase in a sentence. The first magazine could have done the same–they were already writing the story’s name on the form after all–but did not.
The first magazine may pay pro-rates and have a larger audience, but the second magazine surely put forth a more professional response to a potential author. In the future if I have a story that fits both magazines’ guidelines, I am going to be sending it to the mid-level magazine first.
Filed under: Written Word