Sunday, January 19, 2014

You Don't Owe Me Nothing.

I received a form rejection this week. I had been hoping for a sale, or at least a personal rejection. Unfortunately that wasn't to be.

Form rejections, for those that don't know, usually follow a standard wording, something along the lines of:

"Thank you for sending us your story. Unfortunately it does not fit our needs at the moment, and we wish you luck in placing it elsewhere."

Which basically means it's not good enough, or it just didn't grab the editor's interest.

There are sometimes 'better' form rejections, which might include a line about sending more stories to them in the future. And then there are the personal rejections.

A couple of markets try to give personal feedback for every submission, and I've often found that to be valuable. But with thousands and thousands of submissions per year, some markets simply cannot spend the time giving individual responses.  (Bear in mind that some writing is so poor the editor rejects the story in the first sentence.)

I can't find it now, but some time back I saw a post from a writer who'd received a form rejection, and had then emailed the editor asking for further feedback. Now this is generally considered to be bad form, as the editors will already have given feedback had they chosen to. The editor in question firmly but politely responded thus, but the writer went public, bitter and nasty, and declared that she deserved feedback. She compared the submission to a job interview, and felt that she should be told why her story was rejected.

I wonder if she still has that attitude, or if she's still writing and submitting.

Firstly, submitting a story is not like a job interview. Out of hundreds of job applications only a few get an interview. That would be more like those whose stories are placed on hold and either accepted or rejected in the final cull. Even then potential employers don't have to give feedback on your interview.

Anyway, this analogy doesn't work.

When selling a story the editor is less an employer and more a customer. The writer should display their best wares and hope it fits the market's needs. And we should expect no more.

When salesmen visit me at home, I don't feel inclined to explain why I don't wish to purchase their products. And I certainly don't take it well if they choose to hassle or complain.

Any feedback is a bonus. And editors will certainly remember those who act unprofessionally.

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