- Read your work out loud
Listen for word repetition and sentence length variation. If there’s a bit that sounds dull, rewrite it. If you get stuck reading something out, look at whether you can rephrase it. If it’s dull or sticky for you, chances are, it’ll be the same for a reader.
- Get your computer/tablet to read your work out loud
As the writer of a piece, you know what word to expect so having another voice read your work will help those tricksy words from creeping into the wrong place!
- Put your piece away for a week
You’re too close to your work and whilst it’ll never be finished (yes, you’ll submit it and then realise you could have done something different*) it’ll be better for having been shoved in a drawer to gather dust for a week before you edit it.
- Use an editor
If you can’t afford to pay an editor, at the very least, take heed of the squiggly underlines in your word processor. They’re not always right, but they’re a good start. Then, have a look at ProWritingAid† or Grammarly†. Again, they’re not perfect but they’re a step up to polished work.
- Give us your best work
If you give us something full of plot holes and typos, we’ll reject it. We’re looking for polished pieces. We’ll overlook an occasional typo but if we have to correct tenses, grammatical glares and shoot the plot bunnies, we won’t take your story.
- * Do not contact us until we get back to you
If you spot an error in your writing after submission, don’t sweat it! We’re not going to reject a good story for the sake of something easy to correct. Whilst we’d love a one-to-one relationship with every author, there are only 24 hours in a day and we need to sleep and caffeinate.
- Don’t give us the wrong genre
We accept literary and fantasy stories that fall within the myth, legend, folklore and fairytale remit, preferably with a speculative twist. There is an overlap with other genres (such as horror and paranormal) and we’re open to subgenres but if you’re writing gunslinger sci-fi Westerns (too soon?), we’ll reject it outright and probably ignore your future submissions for wasting our time.
- Read the guidelines
If we say no multiple or simultaneous submissions, we mean it. Occasionally accidents happen and you might have to withdraw a piece but if you persistently break the rules, we’ll likely reject your future submissions. We have other guidelines too, like word length and content – please read them!
- Format your file appropriately
If you send us a file we can’t open, or with weird fonts that aren’t loaded on our computer, we won’t be able to read your file and that’s an automatic rejection. If you’re not sure, use Shunn Format and send your story in DOC, DOCX, ODT or RTF. If you need to convert to one of these formats, Zamzar is free and works well. Make sure you use appropriate paragraph breaks–1000 words in one paragraph is not fun to read!
Reasons we may reject you beyond your control but that doesn’t mean you’re not a good writer:
- We have too many similar pieces
If we love your work but have already accepted something similar, we won’t be able to accept everything. We may ask that we keep it on file for a future month.
- We don’t quite love your piece enough
Sometimes it happens. Editor’s prerogative. And it’ll feel personal, because it is personal: our writing and our words matter. But, just because we don’t love it doesn’t mean another editor won’t leap on it. We’re just not the right home.
- It doesn’t quite fit our remit
Sometimes, we’ll have to reject a great story because we feel it doesn’t quite fit in with the other pieces that month, or it’s not quite what we’re after. It sucks, but another editor will love it. Keep submitting.
You can find out more about how I, as a writer and editor, feel about rejections in the last question of my interview at Six Questions For…