Why I rejected your story

Hey there.

I’m just doing some heavy editing for the first issue of Primordial. I am super excited about how it is going and can’t wait to release it onto the world early next year.

Since I opened the call-for-submissions, I have been inundated with manuscripts. The response was much better than I could ever have expected.

A big thank you to everyone who did submit.

But of course, there is only space in the magazine for a small number of stories, so most had to be rejected. Here are some reasons why your story may have been rejected by me. I hope this will shed some light on how editors go about choosing stories.

  1. Your story was totally the wrong genre. I had a grand total of one story in this category. Someone sent me a heartwarming tale of a young man trying to make it in the world. My magazine is about speculative biology. I thought I made that clear. If you are not going to even check whether the bloody genre is correct, then you are just needlessly wasting your time and mine. Read the guidelines, please. Grrr!
  2. Your story sucks. Actually, I honestly don’t think I would put any story I received in this category. I just added it for completeness. Actually, I was pretty impressed with the quality of submissions, so much so that I think “slush” is an unfair word to describe my inbox.
  3. Your story was weak. Now, there were a few of these. Not many, but several stories certainly did meander and ended up not really having a point. I consider these stories ‘learning experiences for future published writers.’ They just need a bit more experience and to learn how to tighten the screws.
  4. Your aliens weren’t alien enough for me. Quite a lot of the stories featured humanoidy aliens, wearing spacesuits, breathing air, and speaking to humans in a raspy voice with bad grammar. Or they were just overgrown insects with human sensibilities. I try to make it clear that I’m looking for very weird and creative, plausible aliens. Too many stories had something like big green troll alien with a laser blaster. They were fun stories to be sure, and I would pay to read them in another periodical, but they just aren’t what I am looking for.
  5. Your aliens were great but there was no story. A couple of stories read more like encyclopedia entries of alien life-forms than science fiction. They were creative and interesting, but a story needs heart. It needs a point. It needs conflict. I want to see the interaction between different groups with different motivations or agendas. I don’t want dry exposition and technical description of something. I want your story to provoke an emotion in me.
  6. I loved your story but I couldn’t accept it because…reasons. There were so many in this category, perhaps the majority. Ultimately I could only choose a handful, and there were many that were painful to reject. I’d love to accept them all, but sacrifices have to be made. Some were too similar to a story that I had already accepted, some fit perfectly with themes that I plan to have for future issues, and some had pop culture references that would age badly.

So, chances are, I didn’t reject your story because it was bad, I rejected it because it didn’t quite fit for some reason, and competition was really fierce.

Also, as I say, I felt many of the stories would simply fit better in another ‘themed’ issue. I will remember the good stories, and may contact the author at a later date to see if the story is still available. If it’s not, then it’s my bad luck. So all is not lost, but I just don’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.

So take heart, dear writer, I did enjoy reading your story and I am happy to read more of your work. Stay tuned, I will be opening up submissions again very soon.

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