At long last, the journey of “Story X” continues. The story’s fourth rejection arrived today, and the relevant bits are below.
Thank you very much for submitting “Story X” to XXX. While we enjoyed reading it, it’s not quite what we’re looking for right now, so we have decided to pass on this one.
This is a bit more dark urban fantasy than horror. The tension is solidly developed, but we’re missing the concurrent dread. I found this sentence awkward, so you might give it another look: [Clunky sentence I’ll revise before the next submission.]
While this story wasn’t a fit for us, please consider us for future submissions. We wish you the best luck finding the right home for this one, and we look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
Well, kids, what we have here is an informative personal rejection. Let’s break it down.
Couple of good things right off the bat. One, I think it’s fair to say they liked some elements of the story, but as the editor said, it wasn’t a fit for them. Two, they want to see more of my work, and that’s always an encouraging sign. I’m definitely going to send them another story.
Of course, it’s easier to speculate why a story was rejected when you get a letter like this as opposed to a form rejection. Let’s kick it off with the first line of the second paragraph: “This is a bit more urban fantasy than horror.” He’s right, and my submission targeting was probably a little off–this publisher is exclusively horror. Sure, the line between horror and dark urban fantasy might be a fine one, but I think he nails the difference in the next sentence: “…missing the concurrent sense of dread.” The story certainly is dark, but, yeah, that feeling of dread isn’t there. Now, I won’t address that issue by trying to make the story more horrific—I think it works as urban fantasy—but it will affect where I send “Story X” from here on out. Good info to have, in other words.
The editor then (rightly) calls out an awkward sentence, which I’ve removed from the post because my alpha readers follow the blog, and I don’t want to give away the story. I’ll just say he was right, and the sentence was awkward. Worse, it’s in the first paragraph of the story (bleh). Do I think this contributed to the story getting rejected? It’s possible. Clunky sentences certainly don’t endear you to an editor. Either way, I absolutely appreciate that he called it to my attention so I can revise it for future submissions.
In summation, there’s some good, encouraging stuff here. Sure, I’m engaging in a bit of true rejectomancy here with my analysis (Crazy, right?), but I don’t think it’s too off base to take this rejection as a sign that “Story X” might have legs if I get it in front of the right publisher. We’re gonna find out. The story is still under consideration with two publishers, and I expect I’ll see responses in the next week or so. Be on the lookout for more updates soon.
Do you have any thoughts on this rejection? Something I missed? Tell me about it in the comments.
Previous Real-Time Rejection Posts