Friday, December 21, 2007

Interesting Rejection

Looking back at my recent posts, I see it's been awhile since I've posted about the rejection letters I've received, but to be fair, I've only received two rejections in the last few months. Now, I suppose I should say how many acceptances I've received in contrast, but I won't.

I have received a few, but I'd rather not mention those right now for superstitious reasons. It'll all make sense in a few weeks, hopefully. Anyway, so I submitted a story to Murky Depths, a dark sci fic and horror print magazine based in the United Kingdom. Remember that story I submitted to Escape Velocity and the editors said it wasn't for them because it was a bit too foul-mouthed, and besides, their mothers subscribed to their magazine? Well, it's the same story.

I figured Murky Depths would be the perfect market for it, and I was right. Sort of. A few days ago I get this email from the editor at Murky Depths:

[Editor #1 - name withheld] 

To me this is an instant Murky Depths' story. But because of that I might be missing something. I'd like your cool eyes to show what that might be or if you think it merits a 1. (I have two 1s and one 2 at the moment - the 2 from one of my editors who writes very much the same as this guy and, I think, feels his/her thunder is being stolen). best

[Editor # 2 - name withheld]

Obviously, this email was meant for Editor #1 and not me, but when I initially read it I glossed over Editor #1's name thinking I was the correct recipient, confused why Editor #2 wanted me to convince him/her why he/she should publish my story (the him/her and he/she is to keep the editors' anonymity).

And maybe I'm reading this wrong, but I am somewhat bothered by what seemed to be jealousy? resentment? from a third editor whose submitted story is being overshadowed? contested? by mine.

But I'm also somewhat flattered as well. Now, I try to stay away from markets that heavily publish their editors' own stories, especially if they seem to be vanity publications, but I also realize publishers and editors are free to do what they will with their magazines.

Murky Depths, at least to me, does not come off as a vanity mag. But the question is: was Editor #3 objective when rating my story? Or was his/her story in the back of his/her mind when he/she was reading mine?

So after wondering what to do about the gaffe by Editor #2, I asked my wife how I should handle the matter. She suggested emailing Editor #2 back. Initially, I was just going to ignore the gaffe and wait for an acceptance/rejection letter, but I was concerned Editor #1 might never be made aware of the story.

So here's the email I sent Editor #2 :

[Editor #2],

I'm sure this wasn't meant for me, but I want to make sure [Editor #1] gets this as well.

Looking forward to the final decision. 

Sincerely, six blocks east of mars

Embarrassing for the editor, I'm sure, but Editor #2 took it in stride and was professional about it:

six blocks east of mars

Oops. An insight into the dealing of Murky Depths, eh? My apologies. Just need to warn you though that Editor #1 is a tough cookie. I wouldn't want anyone to see what he/she writes about the subs I send him/her!

Hope to have a response soon. No need to reply to this, you'll only get the autoresponse again.

It seems Editor #1 is a tough cookie. Here's the rejection letter:

six blocks east of mars

Well you know the background with my little slip up. Thanks for letting us consider [Story Name]. The general consensus is it's a poor imitation of a Gibson and throwing in "sim-stim girls" doesn't help. Doesn't stop me liking it though.

However, anyone familiar with cyberpunk (and it's the kind of story we like to see in Murky Depths) is going to see the failed aspirations. The main flaw though is that there is no story or character arc. This wouldn't matter so much if it were a fast romp, but the action is often halted for flashbacks. I'd like to take this, but as it stands I'm going to have to pass. Very much like to see what else you have though.

Good luck with this elsewhere. 

Hm. Upon first read, it seems to be a somewhat brutal rejection. I disagree with it being a poor imitation of William Gibson, since that was not my intent, but I do admit that his influence is found in this story and what I've been writing lately.

One would be hard pressed to say my most recently published story, "Eyes," is a poor Gibson imitation, though the Gibson references are there. Subtle, but still there.

However, I went back and forth over whether or not to use the term sim-stim girl in the rejected story, thinking an editor would say something similar to what this editor said. Eventually, I decided to keep the term in the story as homage to Gibson, but it seems that wasn't the best decision. The term has now been changed to a more original one.

Lastly, I will admit that the story has no character arc, though I don't agree that there is no story. Ultimately, this story is an attempt at a self-contained piece that resembles flash fiction (albeit slightly longer than an average flash fiction story), and I think I've accomplished that.

Some may not like how the story is told or how it ends, but the story does have a beginning, middle and end. I'd even go as far as saying a decisive ending.

But when it comes down to it, it's just not a story for Murky Depths.

Scratch that. The story is not for Editor #1...and possibly not for Editor #3, either.


Rae L. said...

I do have to wonder if EV and MD share the same editors because they both sound the same in their harsh criticism. How professional can they be if they don't even bother to type a nice original new email to the author?

First off, I'm sorry about your rejection. If I read that correctly, it's a shame that the personal end would overshadow the business just because an editor's ego is scared of being overshadowed with an author's writing. The pub industry is definitely like no other.

Think of it this way, they were probably not right for you rather than the other way around. And they probably wouldn't do it justice if they have that bias in the way from the get go. That frees up the story to be appreciated by another house who will see it as it is. :-)

Moondancer said...

Wow, there was something catty in the regection. Perhaps they found themselves a wee bit caugh with thier pants down over that little scew up? Good luck finding a home for your story.

digable said...

Thanks Rae and Moon for the kind words. I've learned not to take rejections personal and not to get too emotional about them, but sometimes you do. This is one of those times because I believe they were biased and caught with their pants down, as you both said.

I expect objectivity and professionalism by editors, and I don't believe I got that with Murky Depths.

Gregory said...

At least the final editorial response, the rejection letter, was honest, albeit brutally so. Not sure what would have been said if they hadn't slipped up, but I respect the way they just took the slip up in stride rather than trying to backtrack and make lame excuses.

Sorta makes me want to whip up something and send it to them just to see what happens. I love a challenge.

digable said...

Greg, I'm right there with you as well. I love a challenge and I most likely will submit to them again, also to see how they'd handle the second story. Plus, as brutal (and honest) as they were with the rejection, I can't pass up a market that has an editor that already likes my work.

Gregory said...

Yeah, an editor who likes your work is always a very good thing.