18 September 2008

Personal Rejections

I'd like to address the idea of personalized rejections. Anything to put off writing a synopsis, right? Which leads me to my point.

The editorial staff are all working writers, as well as holding down other jobs, attending professional events, managing families, etc. Boo hoo, everyone's busy. But limited time isn't the only reason we don't offer many comments on stories from our slush. (OK, it might be Dave's because he really is busy, man.)

ElectricSpec is a business, not a school. Yes, I often know exactly what the problems are in a story, and I could jot suggestions back to the writer. Yes, it might only take five minutes per story. But we don't accept redux on stories. In three years, we've learned it just doesn't work for us. So, this being a business, and a competitive one at that, why should I spend ElectricSpec's time critiquing a bunch of stories which are going to end up at another magazine? ElectricSpec not going to benefit, and my magazine must be my primary concern.

But isn't part of our mission to support beginning writers? It is. And we do. We seek out writers who really need that interview. We write this blog so we can address lots of folks at once. We love to buy first sales from writers, and I think you'll notice we have, a lot. And once upon a time, we did offer more suggestions via rejections. Unfortunately...

Our advice is often not well-recieved. There really is nothing like offering advice and having a writer shoot a hostile email back. There are a thousand writers out there who aren't ready to recieve critique, unfortunately. Sure, a few bad dudes ruined it for everyone. But not really, because...

I help writers in other capacities. Having been on the recieving end, to me being a writer is as much about paying it forward as it is writing. So, I speak at conferences, targeting beginning writers. Just this past weekend, I offered a 30 page critique as a conference prize. I've critiqued at critters and crapmeter. I write two blogs and do my best to leave helpful comments around the Web. I'm a member of two professional organizations, a full-time critique group, and have offered countless free critiques online and in person. I truly believe in the value of critique. But, I choose not to do this through ElectricSpec because here...

I'm an editor, not a critique partner. When I get your story, I assume it's finished. That's a fair assumption because the stories we buy certainly are.

If you look around hard enough, you'll find my presence on the web. If you engage me, I think you'll find I'll come out from behind my editor's desk, quite friendly and ready to help. And within the confines of the blog, we're always happy to answer questions, even specific questions. So just try us. And do your best to ignore Gremlin. He's a pain, but he gives us candy, so we keep him around.

4 comments:

Margaret Yang said...

I like the form. It's fast and functional. Writers already have (or should have) critique partners. What we want from a magazine is a yes/no answer. A form gives that, painlessly.

Betsy Dornbusch said...

I like the form, too, Margaret. Personal rejections always leave me second-guessing myself.

Bernita said...

Don't think I've ever seen the various reasons presented so clearly!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

Thanks, Bernita. I'll emphasize that this is what works for us. Other editors certainly see things differently and offer crits on every story.