It has been a while since I’ve posted anything but a comment by an online acquaintance got me thinking about a topic and I thought I’d share my experiences with regards to this.
What was the comment?
They wished that markets to which they had submitted stories and been knocked back would provide feedback about why they did not select the submitted story
My first thought was, yeah that would be great but on further reflection and after reviewing some of the feedback I’ve received from editors and readers I’m not sure that is true.
I’ve made seventy-four (74) submissions to various markets over the past couple of years and from these 74 submissions I’ve received 9 pieces of personal feedback. The quality of the feedback has been all over the place, some has been useful, some disheartening, some affirming, some insulting.
I’m not going to name the markets, I still might like to have something published there, but I’ll share some of the feedback
“The prose needs work; it’s overwrought in some places, clumsy in others. There are frequent punctuation errors.”
This one was crushing I wished I’d never submitted it. It wasn’t my best work, but personally, I would have preferred a, it is not right for us, form rejection then this. I didn’t find it especially constructive or helpful. This is especially true when on another submission for the same piece I received this feedback
“I thought it was well-written and moved at a good pace, but unfortunately, it’s not quite what we’re looking for at the moment.”
Which one is correct, I’m going to say the second, although In actuality it came first (chronologically) the surprising thing is that the positive feedback came from a market paying pro-rates while the negative came from a semi-pro market.
In general, the feedback I’ve been given has not been entirely helpful, it certainly did not lead me to extensive rewrites of my pieces. Most feedback from markets seems to be along the lines of the second example, I like this element, but it’s not for us, which leaves me thinking well if you liked it why isn’t it for you?
So what have I learned, well if you are looking for feedback find a community that does provides this, other writers and readers, that will tell you what they like or don’t like either in person or online. I’m a member of www.fantasy-writers.org a website that provide a place for author to post and critique each other’s stories and I cannot emphasis how helpful this has been for improving my own writing (please not the quality displayed in this blog in no way reflects the grammar, punctuation, and general word-smithery I would find acceptable in a story I deem ready to submit to a publisher). I would also like to apologise to all FWo members to whom I owe a critique, it is coming (so is Christmas). I’m slack, slow and have been incredibly unproductive this year.
The other thing I’ve learned is that the only real feedback that I am interested in from any market, are the words “has been accepted for publication”.
This is vindication, this is affirmation, we like it but it’s not for us, we didn’t like this or we like this but… are fine but don’t really help me, you should always remember any feedback is subjective, just because someone doesn’t like something doesn’t mean others won’t love it. I recall someone mentioning that Harry Potter got rejected 17 times, love it or loathe it, it is successful. Don’t get hung up on rejections, even if they come with negative or positive feedback, just keep plugging away, keep improving and you might get lucky.
It took Seventy-Three (73) rejections but I finally got one (1) acceptance, but more on that latter (You’ll probably have a hard time shutting me up about it to be honest).
Thanks for reading and good luck with your writing.
as always the dog