top of page

Getting The Order Right

Working my way through the latest anthology submissions, I’m noticing something interesting: a significant number of writers have submitted work which would better fit in another genre. This means that soon I will need to writer letters to those people explaining that I can’t accept their work for publication — so-called ‘rejection’ letters. But the recipients of those letters will be discouraged and possibly introverted upon receipt — needlessly so. The only point upon which they diverged from requirements was a technical one: they submitted the work inappropriately. In all other respects, in most cases, the work submitted was of sufficient quality to merit being published — it’s just that it didn’t fit with the anthology under question.

Steve Carr covers this point in his manual Getting Your Short Stories Published: A Guidebook:

Every publication has submission guidelines. The importance of following the guidelines, along with submitting quality stories, was the most frequently mentioned issue by the editors/publishers who contributed to this guidebook.

I have also discussed this many times in this blog and elsewhere.

Why submit something that doesn’t fit?

Imagine ordering a pizza and the delivery driver arrives with a hamburger. It’s probably a perfectly delicious hamburger, but it’s not what you ordered. You would send it back. The fast-food place would not then become anxious about their food as a whole — they would (hopefully) spot that it was an error in getting the order right.

It’s the same with fiction submissions. Get the order right. The editor/publisher has asked for a certain type or genre of story for a particular anthology. Send him or her what has been asked for. But, if you get it wrong and get a rejection slip, don’t immediately conclude that there’s something flawed about your writing: recognise instead that you simply got the order wrong.

Of course, some stories are rejected because they aren’t well-written enough, just as some fast food places aren’t popular because the quality of their food isn’t great. That happens and it’s a factor. But if the publisher has pointed out to you that it was simply a genre error, please believe them and keep writing, while fixing the way you assign your work to submission opportunities.

1 Comment

Jun 16

What I have noticed is that many anthology calls are rather vague. For example, a call might be entitled: Fireside Horror. What does that mean, exactly? Cabin in the woods library fireplace? Campfire for the Girl Scouts? A bunch of college frat brothers drinking around a bonfire with singed eyebrows? Slasher axe men gone wild? Vampires throwing virgins into the fire to honor Baal? Splatterpunk? Uncle Bob yodeling to Crazy Train? "Not what we're looking for" is a lazy response. Well, what ARE you looking for? I've begun to inquire about the publishers aesthetic, and to find out who is going to edit the anthology. It matters. Look him/her up, especially if they're "award-winning."


Join the Inner Circle Writers' Group on Facebook

The Inner Circle Writers' Group is all about fiction: what it is all about, how it works, helping you to write and publish it. You can keep up to date with live contributions from members, upload your own fiction, enter competitions and so on:
Tag Cloud
bottom of page