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Archive for January, 2008

As promised, here are Speculative Mystery Iconoclast issue #1’s slush pile percentages at the time of writing this post:

Science Fiction / Mystery = 4.8%

Horror / Mystery = 2.7%

Fantasy / Mystery = 28.6%

Dark Fantasy / Mystery = 4.4%

Science Fiction / Horror / Mystery = 3%

Science Fiction / Fantasy / Mystery = 3.4%

Dark Fantasy / Science Fiction / Mystery = 4%

Iconoclastic Speculative Fiction = 42.9%

Missed the mark (Did not read or simply ignored the guidelines) = 6.2%

The percentages thus far have turned out as expected except for a few surprises, namely the submission percentages for Science Fiction / Mystery (4.8%) and Horror / Mystery (2.7%). Both are low in comparison with Fantasy / Mystery (28.6%).

The first batch of rejections and hold responses will be sent to authors soon. So, in light of that looming event, I thought that I’d reveal a small portion of the process of slush pile reading. Think of it as footnote in my ‘Book of Rejectomancy and Acceptomancy’ that you may or may not find useful.

Simplified (it’s not just two things – can’t stress this enough), evaluation of a story from the slush pile comes down to this ratio:

30 % Writing: 70% Plot

What does this wholly nonmathematical ratio mean? Well, it means that Plot/Story (and many other factors such as characterization, etc.) accounts for 70 % of my ‘accept / hold / reject’ decision making, BUT – but but but – Writing’s 30 % is the first thing I look for in a story.

[Note: By ‘Writing’ I don’t mean a specific style or stylistic sophistication – I appreciate a wide range of writing styles from minimalist to flowery prose and everything in between…In this context, ‘writing’ refers to competence, coherence, and whether the story achieves what the writer intended…]

Sorry, got a little sidetracked there! The point I’m trying to make is that ‘30% Writing’ is the first part of the ratio for a reason – it’s the gatekeeper factor of slush reading.

Keep writing and keep submitting!

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