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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.55
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 12:32 pm:   

What's the protocol for asking for feedback from editors? I've just had a rejection email that just says, "Not bad, but I've decided not to include it" (from Charlie Black).

Is it acceptable to email back and ask for more feedback on the story?
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Frank (Frank)
Username: Frank

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 85.222.86.21
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 12:55 pm:   

It all depends, mate. Some will give feedback, others will tell you they don't have the time to do so. Some will also leave vague comments such as the one mentioned above.

Personally, I never ask for feedback. Editors just like readers have their own tastes, and sometimes the story just doesn't fit in with their conception of what constitutes a publishable story.

Some editors will also hope that people who submit and are rejected don't ask for feedback simply because they thought something was rubbish. Others will politely use the 'time' factor as an excuse/reason.

But I have had some great feedback from some editors, and was actually pleasantly surprised that they had had the time to make any comments whatsoever.

It's the luck of the draw.

I admit though that your rejection comment is enough to make one seek out a clarification.
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Mark West (Mark_west)
Username: Mark_west

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.39.177.173
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 01:08 pm:   

Weber, for what it's worth, I got a similar response from Charles and left it at that (and with your comment, perhaps this is the way he does things, which is fair enough).

In my experience, if an editor is prepared to give more feedback, they'll do so at the first instance.

In my case, I grumbled about not getting into the anthology for a bit, then re-read the story and sent it off on its merry travels elsewhere.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.61.249
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 01:14 pm:   

I'd tell him to go fuck himself, personally. But then I am insane.
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Frank (Frank)
Username: Frank

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 85.222.86.21
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 01:22 pm:   

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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 01:29 pm:   

Ah, Weber, join the club - I've been rejected by Charlie too! In my case, he said my story needed to be more "Pan-like" although he liked it, which I took to mean it wasn't really suitable for what he had in mind. Fair enough.

But Charlie seems like a nice chap - I've never met him personally but I've had much communication with him on another message board. Plus I interviewed him for Pantechnicon, of course.

I'd say it would be worth emailing him to see if he can give you more advice/feedback. But, as far as I know, it's a case of "the editor's decision is final" - if he doesn't think it "fits", and if he doesn't want to give any further feedback, then that's his perogative.

D'you know, I feel better now that I know I'm not the only one who's been rejected by young Charlie!
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 01:36 pm:   

I never ask for feedback unless I know the editor personally. Then I hunt them down with a rusty machete.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 01:38 pm:   

Weber I'd say not. The editor will say as much as he/she wants to say at the time of writing. A rejection note like that means your story was a real contender but was edged out by other stories the reasons why can't always be put into words. If you have to pick, say, three from a 'maybe pile' of twelve good stories, you just go for the ones that stick most in your mind. Doesn't make the others inferior or even flawed. Short of saying "It's not you, it's me," there isn't any explanation to give.

Incidentally, authors don't always appreciate feedback on a rejected story. One author whose story I turned down for a project several years ago, with a note explaining why it didn't work for me, sent me a copy of a pro magazine's standard rejection note to teach me how an editor should behave!
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 01:45 pm:   

Caroline, I think Charlie saying your story needed to be more Pan-like is wonderful. He wanted it to lure him into the woods and make him dance around, drinking and chanting and frolicking with wood-nymphs and/or satyrs, until he collapsed in a debauched and insensible heap, waking up days later no longer remembering who he was. What a goal to aim for!

Oh, not that Pan. I see.

And that was Charlie's weekend anyway.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.61.249
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 01:50 pm:   

Charlie's a good guy, so he probably wouldn't mind a polite request. If you say you're new to the game and would like some feedback for calibration, he might help you out.
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 01:52 pm:   

Joel:
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.171.129.69
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 02:11 pm:   

If an editor bounces my stuff, as they usually do when I can be bothered pulling a tale out of my hat of tales I've finished and decide to send it off somewhere, I let out a sort of deflated breath, shrug, make a note to browse the antho/magazine/toilet wall the editor's produced and see what the other tales are like. Then when I find a really terrible one I decide the editor's an idiot and feel a momentary sense of satisfaction that the world's full of tasteless idiots, before suddenly worrying my tale is even worse than the very poor tale I've just read.

Then I eat a Mars bar.

As for feedback, that can be fun. My favourite ever was the one that went: 'Your story is compelling and well-written, with sympathetic characters. Unfortunately it's not the kind of thing we publish.'

Also, I've had rejection letters for tales I've never submitted places, too. Weird world.

Incidentally, may I ask how many of the tales folk on here write that they actual submit? I reckon I must only sub one in four of the pieces I write in a good year.
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Paul_finch (Paul_finch)
Username: Paul_finch

Registered: 11-2009
Posted From: 92.10.81.128
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 02:14 pm:   

Mark's comments are very important, Weber.

If you're sure the story doesn't need revising (though I'd suggest you go through it with a toothcomb before reaching such a decision, and be hard on yourself), then keep on submitting it elsewhere. I know there aren't as many markets as there used to be, but it will at some point find if it's natural home.

If it picks up a stack of rejections, and you still can't work out what's wrong with it, it may be worth putting it aside, writing a couple of new ones and then go back to it a little later.
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.171.129.69
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 02:31 pm:   

Paul is of course referring to Mark West's comments and not my own, I should add for clarification. My own are like dandelion seeds in the wind, important for spreading DNA but more likely to make you sneeze.
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.171.129.69
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 02:34 pm:   

another good piece of advice is to stay positive. I'm sure my next tale - a bawdy sex comedy retelling of the life of the Prophet, Blessings be Upon Him - will quickly find a publisher.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 02:43 pm:   

"Incidentally, may I ask how many of the tales folk on here write that they actual submit?"

All of them, barring a couple that I wrote in my late teens. On an Underwood manual typewriter. However, all the other stories I wrote at that time were submitted at least once.

If a story is rejected several times I may, or may not, stop submitting it or revise it. But I've given up on barely a dozen stories in nearly 30 years of sending work out.
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Frank (Frank)
Username: Frank

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 85.222.86.21
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 02:44 pm:   

Mark - the Mars bar comment made me laugh, mate. With regards to how many of us submit all, some of or none of our stories, for me personally, I've submitted the majority of my short stories written up till last year , but, I have so many waiting to be sent off from this year.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 02:45 pm:   

P.S. I'm not saying that's anything to be proud of.
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Mark West (Mark_west)
Username: Mark_west

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.39.177.173
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 02:56 pm:   

Apart from a handful that were either novelettes (though at the time, I just thought 'too long') or just didn't work as I wanted them, I submit everything. Of course, most of my credits were in the 1999-2002 period when there were a lot more markets about.

Joel - I taught myself to type on an old Olympia sit-up-and-beg. It took me ages to get used to a nice, flat keyboard!
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Frank (Frank)
Username: Frank

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 85.222.86.21
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 02:57 pm:   

Is it persistence from personal belief in your talent, or sheer bloody-mindedness, Joel?
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.61.249
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 03:11 pm:   

I have a number of dogs in my kennel which will never go for walkies. But most of the pack, ill-bred and shaggy though some may be, have the run of the land.
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 88.104.135.73
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 03:26 pm:   

Just keep sending it off, Weber. What just misses with one editor is a definite with another. What one doesn't like another loves. If it keeps coming back have a go at rewriting it. We have all had rejections but just keep sending it out there!

"Incidentally, may I ask how many of the tales folk on here write that they actual submit?"

All of them and all are in print.
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Skip (Wolfnoma)
Username: Wolfnoma

Registered: 07-2010
Posted From: 216.54.20.98
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 03:44 pm:   

"I'd tell him to go fuck himself, personally. But then I am insane." by Gary Fry


I think I will now use this as my new sign off on all my emails.
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.171.129.75
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 03:54 pm:   

'All of them and all of them are in print.'

Bloody hell.

Nobody likes a smart-arsed kid! ;-)
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 03:55 pm:   

My dog has no nose.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.55
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 03:58 pm:   

How does he smell?
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Allybird (Allybird)
Username: Allybird

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 88.104.135.73
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 04:00 pm:   

I knew you'd say that :>)
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Mark_lynch (Mark_lynch)
Username: Mark_lynch

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.171.129.75
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 04:00 pm:   

I recently found what's left of the incomplete manuscript of the comedy werewolf novel I decided to write in my late teens. I thought I'd only managed about 20,000 words, but it seems I was more deluded than I imagined, cos I actually had 42K of them. Sheesh.

It is actually funny.

But not for the right reasons.

Part of me wishes I'd stuck with it to the finish, but alas I was quickly very ill past the middle of it and then spent the next five or six years in bed, barely able to read at times, let alone write. I had to learn to do both all over again. Still learning, truth be told.
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Craig (Craig)
Username: Craig

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 75.4.253.200
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 04:19 pm:   

I think it's a black and white issue: if an editor rejects something, it just means he plain don't like it. If he DID like it but thought it was flawed, he'd offer you some insights to rewriting it - he'd find a way to get it into print. There's no point in asking him. He may have no reason to give you, beyond, he just don't like it. Move on.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 04:43 pm:   

Surely if he hadn't seen some merit in the story he wouldn't have gone to the bother of saying "Not bad" but merely have returned it as rejected. I'd take those two words as quietly encouraging, Weber... i.e. keep chipping away, developing as a writer, and one day he may well accept one of your tales. Remember: half full not half empty.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.55
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 04:52 pm:   

3 basic personality types

1 - The Glass is half full
2 - The glass is half empty
3 - What the fuck's this? I ordered a fucking hamburger!
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Mark_samuels (Mark_samuels)
Username: Mark_samuels

Registered: 04-2010
Posted From: 86.135.209.40
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 04:58 pm:   

4 - The glass is in my face.

Mark S.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 05:15 pm:   

>>I think it's a black and white issue: if an editor rejects something, it just means he plain don't like it. If he DID like it but thought it was flawed, he'd offer you some insights to rewriting it - he'd find a way to get it into print.<<

I disagree, Craig. If an editor's putting together a book, then the stories he/she chooses have to be right for that particular anthology - and the editor is the one who judges what's "right" in that context and what isn't. So, being rejected by one editor doesn't mean the story's not a good one. It could quite easily fit elsewhere. Or it might need a rewrite, of course.

Or are you just trying to wind Weber up?

Joel - your comments about Charlie's meaning of "Pan-like" made me laugh for a good five minutes! Thanks!

BTW when I looked at the stories in the BBoH which I was rejected for, I realised my story really wouldn't have been right for it. I'd still love to end up in Charlie's little black books though.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 05:17 pm:   

Incidentally, did you guys know BBoH #7 will be out shortly? Looks good. I do believe there are a few people on this board who've made the grade.
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Steve Bacon (Stevebacon)
Username: Stevebacon

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 90.211.103.120
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 11:02 pm:   

Weber, I managed to squeeze a story into the 6th Black Book of Horror but it was only after about 5 or 6 rejections. I didn't get too much feedback on the rejections, but that didn't bother me; I just kept on going until I eventually wore Charlie down. :-)

Some people have talent. I have tenacity.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.61.249
Posted on Friday, September 10, 2010 - 11:14 pm:   

I thought it was gonorrhea, Steve.
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Steve Bacon (Stevebacon)
Username: Stevebacon

Registered: 09-2008
Posted From: 90.211.103.120
Posted on Saturday, September 11, 2010 - 12:25 am:   

It was tenacity that got me gonorrhea.

And I thought you said you'd keep that quiet.
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Gary Fry (Gary_fry)
Username: Gary_fry

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 86.23.61.249
Posted on Saturday, September 11, 2010 - 12:40 am:   

The clap is always noisy, alas.

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