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Home Success Tips for Writers The Main Reasons We Decline Stories

The Main Reasons We Decline Stories

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The amount of each reason, and the rankings, vary over time, but these are the primary reasons we decline stories:
  • Limited Ability to Publish - All editors will tell you they receive many more submissions than they can publish. Unfortunately, some pretty good manuscripts end up being turned down. Since Short-Story.Me! publishes multiple genres, that mathematical problem also occurs in each genre. We try to mix what we publish, so we cannot accept a large imbalance of genres within a period of time.

  • Stories Not finished - Often, we find a good idea, a decent plot or an intriguing writing style that has potential, but the writer stopped too soon. There are two skills a successful author has that most who try writing don't have. One is rewriting. Great writing does not just flow; it is work that usually undergoes many versions before it is final. Most successful authors dislike editing and rewriting the most of all their tasks, but they do it.

    The second skill is to willingly accept objective third party input before the manuscript is submitted for publishing. Major publishing houses have editors for even the most famous and respected authors for a reason. Someone has to look out for the reader. If the reader doesn't "get it" and like it, it matters not what you think, unless you are just writing for yourself. Having a writers' group or someone who reads your genre review your material can be helpful. This not not to say you have to make changes based on their opinions, but you should at least listen, and then decide. If you don't have an objective resource available to you, the best alternative is to put your "finished" story aside for a month, then come back and read it as if for the first time. You may be surprised what you see.

  • Not Following Submission Guidelines - As noted in another Success Tip, editors don't have the spare time to try to "make" your story fit their needs. If your story is the wrong length, is not legitimately a genre requested or is formatted incorrectly, editors may read it, but they may not.
  • Punctuation and Grammar - Literature is not the same as an instant message, tweet or email. It has rules that make sense and work. Use them. The most common punctuation error in submissions is missing commas, with sentences as run-on collections of words instead of delineated, related phrases, as we normally read.

  • Not Really a Writer Yet - Writing, like most talents, is a combination of art and skill. Some manuscripts are simply written by people who have not mastered one or both of those elements. That's not to say they could not; they just have not.
  • Same Old Same Old - Some basic concepts have been beaten to death over the years. "Selling your soul to the devil" is an example. You had better have a creative twist that shows up very early in the story for an editor to not view it as cliched. Readers like newness and a sense of surprise and wonder.


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