A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to a Slushpile Rejection or How Not to Slush

I mentioned that I had a slush pile story to tell, this one from the writer’s perspective (not the editor’s). I waited a while to tell the story to give the person time to reply. So far, no reply. I don’t expect one at this point. (I never reply to rejection letters (other than posting them on this blog), but this one warranted a response, as you’ll see.)

First, some quick back story.

A while back, I wrote a story for a market. It got rejected. I submitted it elsewhere, where it was promptly rejected. I sent it out to a third market, the market in question (which I’m not naming), and I received this response from the slush reader:

Dear “L”

Give (sic) this is a simultaneous submission, as is made clear on your website (at http://llambertlawson.com/write-1-sub-1-tracking/ ) we cannot accept it. Like many publications, XXX does not accept simultaneous submissions (see  [guidelines; link redacted]). Please only send us work that is neither a reprint, nor under consideration elsewhere, in future.

All the best.

If you follow that link, you’ll notice that I track all my writing/subbing exploits as a catalogue of my W1S1 goals. Contrary to the slasher’s opinion, this is not a list of SimSubs. I do not SimSub. (I’m not sure why, if a writer were flaunting editorial guidelines, they’d make an easily accessible page to broadcast the deceit.)  Anyway…. To make the point that this is not a SimSub list clearer, you’ll also notice that I’ve added a new, bright-red header: DEAR EDITORS & SLUSH READERS: APPEARANCE OF STORIES ON THIS LIST DOES NOT INDICATE SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS. I DO NOT SEND OUT SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS. PLEASE DO NOT ASSUME SO.

I do not send SimSubs. (As an editor I dislike SimSubs, and I have no interest perpetrating a practice as a writer that I dislike as an editor.) Also, as an editor with my own guidelines that get broken with irritating frequency, I try to follow publisher guidelines to the letter. I know how editors and slushers feel when guidelines aren’t adhered to.

I have no doubt this story would have been rejected at this market. I’m sure it’ll garner many more before finding a home or finding the trunk. No problem.

What I have a problem with is this slusher making assumptions of me that are false. And that state that I would do such a stupid thing. (Whatever you may think of me, I try to avoid doing stupid things (though, inevitably, some of you will think writing this very post is stupid).)

I know every market has a strategy for getting through the slush as quickly as possible, but kicking stories out of the pile based on faulty Internet sleuthing and faultier assumptions isn’t a strategy that’s fair to writers.

So, yeah, that happened.

As a writer, there are a lot of markets to sub to, and I’ll keep plugging away with this story. This slusher reader made a mistaken assumption that lead to a decision that would have likely been made anyway–the rejection. I don’t have much response as a writer other than writing a “Wow. That sucked.” blog post. This is that.

As an editor, though, what I can do in response is to promise all who submit to Kazka Press that their stories will get a fair shake. We’ll read your story with the care you put into writing it. We’ll make a decision based upon the merits of the story. The only assumptions we’ll make are that you followed our guidelines–unless proven otherwise.

You’ve entrusted us with your story. The least we can do is trust you back.

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