Monday, February 4, 2013

Reading to reject

[Quick note, American Death Songs by Jordon Harper is FREE for the Kindle so act now.]

Short post since I'm writing this just before kick-off but one I've been meaning to write for a little while now.

I think that there is a certain inherent belief some authors have about submission editors (ie: those faced with a slush pile).  I also think this belief is more prevalent among aspiring authors.

The belief is that editors are reading every submission with an eye towards acceptance. That we are reading every submission thinking that we want to accept it until it proves otherwise.

Unfortunatley this isn't the case, particularly when slush piles are large.

We're actually reading to reject. In an effort to cull the pile we are looking for reasons to reject to make the pile smaller.

This isn't without precedent. I've heard HR reps say that when hiring and faced with a large stack of resumes they are looking at any small thing to toss resumes out to make the pile smaller.

This may seem disconcerting to writers and presents a challenge to them.  How can this be overcome?

This is bit harder to answer.

The first answer is to be compelling.  That doesn't mean to just resort to cheap hook.  We know what those look like.

The second answer is within your control. Don't make stupid mistakes.  Don't send me a manuscript filled with typos.  If you do you'll shoot yourself in the foot before you've even started.

Another thing.  Polish your manuscript start to finish.  Too many strong ideas don't see print because they fall apart in the end.  Don't secretly hope an editor will like the first half enough to ask for a rewrite of the second half. 

If your manuscript isn't ready don't submit it.  Own it.  Put it away for a week or a month if that's what it takes to see it clearly and fix what needs to be fixed.

For every manuscript accepted there are hundreds and for some publishers thousands of manuscripts rejected.  Editors are just looking for a reason to say no to move on.

Take care of what is in your control and submit the best story you possibly can.

Currently reading: Submissions, Dark Paradise by Lono Waiwaiole, Brother Blood by Donald Glut, Grudge Punk by John McNee.

Currently Listening: Gin Wigmore, Shovels & Rope.

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