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Author Topic: Form rejects  (Read 1837 times)
Geoff_N
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« on: January 05, 2012, 05:44:16 AM »

Isn't it so annoying and frustrating to receive a form reject? I had one in the post this morning. (Wife thinks from the envelope that I write fan letters to myself.  Wink ) I'd subbed Battle of Trafalgar to Black Static after tweaking it from the crit group comments and going through another crit group.  I genuinely considered the story ideal for Black Static having bought and read both that and the other TTA Press publication, Interzone ever since they started. The reject form doesn't have my name, nor the editor's and no reason except it had been read 'very carefully etc' Yes, I've had a dozen or so from TTA and they are all the same, and includes an advert for their publications. At least they've stopped including an advert for a booklet on how to write and a sarcastic comment to read their publications before submitting again. It feels worse because I know Andy Cox, met him at conventions and chatted with him. I wrote a personal note to him in my query. Fair enough, the story has to stand no matter on our relationship but I don't buy this business of editors being too busy to write a brief reason for rejection. I did it for thousands of subs to Escape Velocity - both for the magazine and more so for the anthology.

Rant over.

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Pharosian
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2012, 10:16:19 AM »

I agree that receiving a form rejection leaves one wondering "WHY? What did I do wrong? What can I do to change your mind?" My condolences on the feelings receiving that letter caused.


But.

From having written scores of critiques and having worked on the editing team for one anthology, I know that it can be incredibly difficult sometimes (not always by any means) to articulate the problems with a piece. In some cases I have spent hours trying to fill out all the sections of the CD critique template because the problems don't fit into easily described subsets. If the mechanics are awful, that's easy; if the POV hops all over the place, that's easy. But there are other types of problems that are difficult to describe.

Our brains work on two different levels: the intuitive and the analytical. The intuitive level knows instantly whether a given piece is a "go" or a "no go." Unfortunately, the intuitive level doesn't provide documentation. That has to be generated by the analytical side, which is also burdened by fears about coming across as too negative, or not being accurate or constructive, or... It's far simpler to have a one-size-fits-all response that can be used in every case. It's quick and easy, avoids any sense of favoritism, and perhaps discourages further interaction more effectively than a personalized note would.

Maybe your years of teaching gave you the skill to be able to write personalized rejections without spending an inordinate amount of time at it. But not everyone has that skill, and giving bad news is something most people want to avoid. Even when, ironically, the majority of the letters an editor sends out are going to be rejections.

I agree that we authors would be much happier if the rejection letters we received were always personalized. Writing them is just not something everyone is good at.
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Geoff_N
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2012, 12:14:20 PM »

You have a point. 30 years of summing up students' best and worst attributes in termly reports has fashioned me into a critiquer and made me blind to why others couldn't be.
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Prisoner24601
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2012, 03:37:26 PM »

I think the ones that annoy me the most are the personal rejections that don't say why the story didn't make it.  I got one of those from Daily Science Fiction a couple of weeks ago, where at the end of the form rejection they tacked on a postscript saying that they really liked the story and it almost made their second round - but they never mentioned why it didn't make it (Because they didn't love it? Because at 5k it was too long? Because it was overwritten?  OMG WHY? Just tell me! It just takes one more sentence! LOL.).  So it was sort of encouraging and totally disheartening at the same time.

But ultimately a rejection is a NO, no matter if it's personal or detailed or just a form.  I just try to shake them off and write the next story, because really, that's the only way for me to stop obsessing about rejections or how long stories have been out at particular markets without hearing anything (which can be even more frustrating, at least for me).
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Geoff_N
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2012, 04:15:33 PM »

You are right. Loving a story is such a subjective thing. The acquisition editor is only one person, two at the most. We must either keep submitting or put it in an e-drawer for when we are famous. hah.
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elay2433
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2012, 09:02:22 PM »

Well said, Pharo.

Geoff, I sent a story to a TTA Press publication (Crimewave) back in July 2009. Never heard back from them. Several queries, no response. So in some respects, you're lucky to have received that form rejection.  grin
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Jerry Enni lives in a small house in the center of the San Joaquin Valley with his beautiful family. By day he makes signs and by night he writes stories. To learn more about him, check out Clear Perspective, Blurry Lens
delboy
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« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2012, 04:06:15 AM »

Easiest way to avoid form rejects is not to submit any tales. Works for me!! 

Derek
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"If you want to write, write it. That's the first rule. And send it in, and send it in to someone who can publish it or get it published. Don't send it to me. Don't show it to your spouse, or your significant other, or your parents, or somebody. They're not going to publish it."
 
Robert B. Parker
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