08 May 2009

HugFest Over

Go read this and then come on back for my thoughts.

1. Fair Consideration.

I guess it's what you consider fair consideration. If you think that means every story gets read to the end, then no. I give it a page or two, and like Jeremiah, I skip to the last page to see if it answers the questions raised on the first. No questions raised? I hit the big red button.

2. Rejecting good work.

That one's easy. I reject cool stories all the time. I've read brilliant literary stuff in my slush with slight speculative elements. But unless the story revolves around speculative ideas, then it's a reject for Electric Spec. Let me say that again cuz it's important: we want stories that revolve around speculative ideas.

And really, when it gets down to it, we have to reject 20+ good stories from our hold file every issue.

3. Fostering new writers.

I think we do this to some extent, for instance, our first page game. I also participate on Critters.org. A lot of the talks I get are aimed at newer writers. And, if I know you via the web, a professional organization, or the bar at a conference, I might give you a personal rejection and suggestions for improvement. This is a personal choice, though, and my fellow editors tend to err on the side of NOT giving help because every editor on the planet has gotten back nasty replies to their helpful suggestions.

4. Editors are people, too...

In public, I try to act like rose petals fall from the sky and unicorns are hopping over rainbows in the distance, but I'm jaded. When I sit down to my slush, I go in knowing I'm going to reject 15-40 stories at a time. And I'm not one of those who forgets there's a person behind every story. It's a bummer, dude. And I know as the years have gone by, I've gotten harsher and less patient with my slush. Yup. It's a bummer, dude.

5. Editors are failed writers.

We're all published here, have novels under our belts, and have gone through submission processes countless times. Sometimes it's paid off, sometimes it hasn't. Kind of like a lot of writers you might know. Why are we editors? I can only speak for myself. I got into this gig to make me a better writer. And it's worked. Now I do it because, like writing, I can't stand not doing it.

As for the "well-known truth":

Free beer just tastes better.


Deb S said...

Thanks for the insight! A peak inside an editor's mind is always helpful…and interesting.

Question: is the first page contest done on a regular basis?

And for more rose petals and unicorns, try more beer. Works for me.

Betsy Dornbusch said...

Me, too, Deb.

I'm behind on my slush currently, due to other projects. I'd say after this next issue comes out might be a good time to play again.

David E. Hughes said...

Regarding #3--I sometimes include a "p.s." in my form rejection for stories that I found promising but didn't quite make it to the hold for voting level. I've done one personal, detailed rejection for a high school student who submitted and wrote a very compelling cover letter. But yeah, for the most part, I use our form. If it the story is disburbingly bad, I'll take the nice parts out of our form letter.

lesleylsmith said...

We get so many stories that are almost excellent. I wish I could give detailed critiques, but then I'd be doing that full-time! Authors need critique groups.