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Thread: Finished a Short and Have Questions About the Polish/Submit Process

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Finished a Short and Have Questions About the Polish/Submit Process

    Not too long ago (a few days) I finished writing and polishing the first short story I ever bothered to imagine to completion.

    As I write another, I'm somewhat lost as to what to do with it.

    More specifically, I'm looking at the final polish process. There are no persons I could consider reliable editor's and proofreaders in my locale. What I can expect from them is simple, "Is it entertaining?"

    Should I sit on it until I find people to look at it, or should I go for my first Clarkesworld rejection?

  2. #2
    resident curmudgeon
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    Submit it. Only an editor can give you a reliable opinion.

  3. #3
    That hairy-handed gent
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    What JAR said. If all you need is opinions on your "entertaining" question, have it reviewed by someone else, but you really shouldn't be looking for a professional editor at this point. Once you have 50 posts here, you can put it up in the passworded Share Your Work forum, and get some comments, if you like.

    Other than that, find possible publication fits for whatever kind of story it is, and submit.

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  4. #4
    Blissfully Clueless Mutive's Avatar
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    I'd try to find people to look at it.

    If you don't have a local writer's network, there are a lot of places you can go for feedback. Here, www.critiquecircle.com , www.critters.org , and more.

    Of course, you can just submit. But the risk there is that once the story is rejected by a magazine, it's rejected for good. Unless they ask for a rewrite request, you generally can't re-submit. So...if it's rejected for an easily correctable reason, it sucks.

  5. #5
    Benefactor Member alexshvartsman's Avatar
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    Mr. Aziz:

    I rely heavily on reader feedback. Those readers don't necessarily have to be writers themselves, just people who enjoy to read and are reasonably fluent in the genre you're writing.

    Readers can point out both plot holes and boneheaded sentences. But especially the parts that are crystal-clear in your hand and incomprehensible to them.

  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW Rufus Leeking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexshvartsman View Post
    Mr. Aziz:

    I rely heavily on reader feedback. Those readers don't necessarily have to be writers themselves, just people who enjoy to read and are reasonably fluent in the genre you're writing.

    Readers can point out both plot holes and boneheaded sentences. But especially the parts that are crystal-clear in your hand and incomprehensible to them.
    I like Alex, so this is just an example- he meant "crystal clear in your head;" so a reader can't hurt beforehand.

    I thought some people here said that a writer can poison their name with editors if they submit too early in their career/development. I'm not saying, just asking, isn't there a risk to aligning one's name to one's first (perhaps) poorly realized (no offense to the op) (but a first story may well be poorly realized) story? I swear remember a thread saying as much.
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  7. #7
    Likes metaphors mixed, not stirred Chris P's Avatar
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    I'd say get that baby out the door.

    As far as Rufus' question, I don't think it's really likely someone with "poison their name" by submitting ONE poor story. I think it's more likely someone will do this if they ignore submission requirements (no sim subs, no multiple subs, written in ALL CAPS on a roll of toilet paper, etc). If the ms is free of grammar and spelling errors (which is easy enough to do on your own) and your conduct is professional, I really doubt you're going to be able to do much damage just because the editor doesn't like the story.

    If you have a beta reader you trust, then great, but a story does you no good at all just sitting there. It won't sell, and you won't learn from any mistakes you made, either.
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  8. #8
    resident curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutive View Post
    I'd try to find people to look at it.

    If you don't have a local writer's network, there are a lot of places you can go for feedback. Here, www.critiquecircle.com , www.critters.org , and more.

    Of course, you can just submit. But the risk there is that once the story is rejected by a magazine, it's rejected for good. Unless they ask for a rewrite request, you generally can't re-submit. So...if it's rejected for an easily correctable reason, it sucks.
    No story gets rejected if there's an easily fixable problem. This is when you will get asked for a rewrite. As an editor, I hate it when stories go through critiques before I see them. If this really helped, nearly every story in the slush pile would be good. They aren't.

    Not only can a writer never, ever poison his name by submitting stories, even early bad ones, submitting them to editors is the best possible way to learn and grow as a writer.

    Not only have I known writers who submitted dozens of early , bad stories to the same magazine before selling, I'm one of them. Editors not only don't hold early, bad stories against a writer, they love seeing them, love watching the writer learn and grow.

    I've yet to see a critique group that has a clue what editors actually want, or how they want it. I have seen many, many critique groups that tell writers it's supposed to be done this way or that way, and they inevitably turns stories into same old, same old, stories that are just like the stories that everyone else writes.

    Submit the story. Send it to an editor who knows what he wants, and knows how he wants it. If there's any spark of talent and originality at all, the editor will want to hear from you again and again and again until you get it right. If there is no spark of talent, no originality, the best critique group in the world can't help you.

  9. #9
    Soldier, Storyteller Linda Adams's Avatar
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    Submit it. The worst that will happen is that it will get rejected. On the other hand, if you let it sit, then it's about the same result. Only the former could lead to acceptance, too, but sitting will lead to nothing at all.
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  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW
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    If you haven't seen these already, keep them in mind next time you write a story. As for the story at hand, sounds like you're at step 3 and need to move on to steps 4 and 5.

    HEINLEIN'S RULES FOR WRITING

    1. You must write.
    2. You must finish what you write.
    3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
    4. You must put the work on the market.
    5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.
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  11. #11
    Benefactor Member alexshvartsman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus Leeking View Post
    I like Alex, so this is just an example- he meant "crystal clear in your head;" so a reader can't hurt beforehand.


    In some stories, making the reader hurt is the goal?


    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus Leeking View Post
    I thought some people here said that a writer can poison their name with editors if they submit too early in their career/development. I'm not saying, just asking, isn't there a risk to aligning one's name to one's first (perhaps) poorly realized (no offense to the op) (but a first story may well be poorly realized) story? I swear remember a thread saying as much.
    I don't really subscribe to this theory. Editors understand that there's plenty of room for every writer to grow. I don't think they will *ever* hold it against someone if their earlier work is much weaker than their current work.

    Also, in most markets the weaker stories will never reach the editor, anyhow. They'll get bounced by slushies. Who won't remember your name by the time they read another story from you again, not unless it was so epically bad that it sticks in their minds, but then you're probably not going to sell to that market anyway.

  12. #12
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Well, right then, and it's off. I'll see what I get back and work on something else until it is or isn't bounced back and I have to find another market for it.

  13. #13
    Blissfully Clueless Mutive's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    No story gets rejected if there's an easily fixable problem. This is when you will get asked for a rewrite. As an editor, I hate it when stories go through critiques before I see them. If this really helped, nearly every story in the slush pile would be good. They aren't.
    No story?

    I've rejected stories for easily fixable problems.

    Even at the incredibly small, poorly paying, non-prestigious magazine I slush read for, <2% of the stuff ends up published.

    About 30% of the submissions I get are from people with SFWA credentials. Most of the stuff they send out is consistently good (or at least decent). A good chunk of the stuff I get from non-SFWA members is *also* pretty decent. I still reject the majority of stories without advancing them to the next round because...there's a lot of stories.

    So, yeah, if the story has major flaws (or even a major flaw), I'm not advancing it. Depending on my mood (and the other merits of the story), I may or may not ask for a rewrite. Tough luck. I've got another 100 in my inbox to replace it.

    No, you're not "poisoning your name" (I get so many submissions to read that I honestly can't remember which is which unless the author does something truly, amazingly bad). But if a beta reader can go through it and say, "Make these 10 changes" and those changes turn it from a bad (or so-so) story to a good one...yeah. Maybe it'll make the cut.

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW MatthewWuertz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rufus Leeking View Post
    I thought some people here said that a writer can poison their name with editors if they submit too early in their career/development. I'm not saying, just asking, isn't there a risk to aligning one's name to one's first (perhaps) poorly realized (no offense to the op) (but a first story may well be poorly realized) story? I swear remember a thread saying as much.
    If there was such a list, everyone would be on it. No, editors aren't tracking names of authors with poorly written stories.

    Submit away!

  15. #15
    Reads more than she writes. AW Moderator Smish's Avatar
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    For the record, I'm very much in favor of critique groups for mature writers. For writers who haven't yet devoloped the confidence to take advice that makes sense to them and ignore the rest, a critique group can sometimes stifle writing. For others, critique groups can be a valuable resource. You have to find what works for you.

    The important thing to remember (in critique groups and in reading posts on online forums) is that opinion is not fact.
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  16. #16
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    Thank you all for your advice/opinions. It is great to be able to see such different points of view!

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