You should have sent him my way.
The thought did occur to me. Are you still offering critiquing services for people? If so, I'll start just sending the details of your rates and contact info next time someone asks for this.
Is there any way that I could send you a piece that I'm presently working on and receive some feedback before I send in the final draft?
I don't think you could have answered this more professionally and civilly than you did.
I've gotten a few like that for CP. I think sometimes people just can't comprehend the sheer volume of competition there is for just a few slots until they've finally seen it from the other side.
I think you handled this admirably.
I'm glad I never went to college and learned that.
Handled with class.
RE: "But as an editor I also know that it's not as simple as good story versus bad story." I'd hasten to add that the gulf between a good story and the great story that gets accepted is rather vast. Reading slush for the past month as Farrago's Wainscot has been rather eye opening in that respect.
Wow. I don't think it would have ever occurred to me to write a letter like this; it smacks of writing a letter demanding to know why you didn't get a job/date/prize/whatever.
You handled it very well, I think.
(and I speak as someone who has actually had people ask her, "so why won't you date me?")
Oh, there is so very much that one could comment on here....
But I'll stick with just this: "But the feeling I get is that you and your readers regard me a worthless loser." If this writer's fiction has never been published in Fantasy, how can Fantasy's readers consider the writer to be a worthless loser, since they don't know of his/her existence in particular?
Is there something going around these days? This is the second such story via LJ in the last week or so.
But it is sometimes helpful to know these things...
I think I now have a fairly clear idea of what WON'T sell to you, though I'm still not sure what WILL (a couple of pieces I thought were right didn't take; on the other hand the one you DID buy was probably the one I was most optimistic about).
I've always assumed that the "please send more" is editorial shorthand for "you can write; it's obvious you can write; when you write the correct story, we'll buy it". In other words, the mechanics and techniques are all there, it's just hitting the right content and/or tone.
And I will persist - but first I have to write more stories, because you've seen virtually everything of mine that's remotely suitable!
When I say outright that I want the person to send more, I always mean it. It may mean that I think that somewhere down the road they're going to produce a killer story or it may mean exactly what you say - not this one, but another may well hit.
Now go write some more, Brian.
A) I think this is quite diplomatic and clear.
B) Have you thought about including a less-personalized version of this in the submissions FAQ?
Because the information that "we take 1 out of 100 stories we receive" is something that is well known to pros and comes as an INCREDIBLE surprise to many people new to the idea of seeking publication. If I had a dollar for every client who thought that magazines and anthologies were desperate for submissions in general, I would have many many dollars.
I once asked a college writing class what percentage of submitted short stories they thought The New Yorker rejected, and I swear to god the majority answer was "50%."
Which goes some way toward explaining what often comes off as hubris or entitlement to people who have been doing this stuff for years.
I think that's an excellent suggestion and I'm making a note to myself to do so.
Very well said!
I have occasionally responded to queries somewhat similar to this, where the writer asks for more explanation than I had already given on a story I'd already read and rejected. But asking for a private crit *before* submitting definitely strikes me as going too far.
Also: never a good idea to put words into an editor's mouth when you're asking them for something.
But the feeling I get is that you and your readers regard me a worthless loser.
Something like this, to me, is a red flag that the conversation has moved beyond professionalism.
It speaks very highly of you that you took the time to answer. Thank you on this writer's behalf (because the ones who would write a letter like that are generally the type who won't say it), and thank you for sharing it here, where I can point people who make this same complaint to their fellow writers....
That was a very classy response, and I hope the emailer appreciates the time you took in crafting it. :)
I don't think it would have ever occurred to me to write a letter like this
Same here, but I've done so many benighted things in my life, I can only cringe in sympathy.
Anyway, it's nice to see kindness happening. I hope your cats appreciate it. "D
Well, I appreciate it.
Your response was kind and patient, and the timing in my case was impeccable.
It kept me from doing something I now see is silly.
I was hoping it'd be helpful to at least a couple of people.
Mmmm... with so much slush I tend to think editor's don't remember me, so I don't take it as a personal slight when someone rejects me over and over again.