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Questions For Any Publishers/Editors On Writing Forums.Com (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

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I realise the answers will have to be generalisation and that nothing is 'clear cut'.

1: On receiving a piece of work, what are the main things that would have you immediately throwing it on the slush pile?

2: What are you looking for in the first paragraph that will encourage you to continue reading?

3: At the end of page one, what would you hope has been established, and so make you turn the page?

4: You've finished the first chapter. What are the main ingredients that would make you start chapter 2?

5: How much of a story/novel do you need to read for you to consider it for publication?

6: Is style and presentation sometimes enough motive for 2/3/4/5?
 
Ok, I'm not exactly an editor, but I don't want this thread to get lost in the ether because I think it's a good set of questions. I am on the Flashes submission vetting team, though. Most of your questions seem geared towards novels, and we do short fiction and poetry, but I'll try to answer some (these are just my opinions; obviously people on the Flashes team differ wildly):

1) A dry voice, clumsy wording, sentences that "beat around the bush," faux-deep 'philosophizing' that isn't actually deep, vagueness

2) Strong voice, narrative thrust (does not have to be obvious), beauty in language, concrete visuals/imagery that my mind can grab onto

3, 4) N/A

5) I always read things all the way through if I'm going to comment on it, even if I really hate it, because I feel it's only fair to the author, especially for something <2000 words. But people obviously differ. And if it's really bad, usually continued reading doesn't change my mind.

6) Style, yes. Style will get me reading. If the substance/content is flimsy or trite, obviously my judgement will reflect that, but good sentence style with poetic flair will grab my attention. I'm not sure what you mean by presentation.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Ok, I'm not exactly an editor, but I don't want this thread to get lost in the ether because I think it's a good set of questions. I am on the Flashes submission vetting team, though. Most of your questions seem geared towards novels, and we do short fiction and poetry, but I'll try to answer some (these are just my opinions; obviously people on the Flashes team differ wildly):

1) A dry voice, clumsy wording, sentences that "beat around the bush," faux-deep 'philosophizing' that isn't actually deep, vagueness

2) Strong voice, narrative thrust (does not have to be obvious), beauty in language, concrete visuals/imagery that my mind can grab onto

3, 4) N/A

5) I always read things all the way through if I'm going to comment on it, even if I really hate it, because I feel it's only fair to the author, especially for something <2000 words. But people obviously differ. And if it's really bad, usually continued reading doesn't change my mind.

6) Style, yes. Style will get me reading. If the substance/content is flimsy or trite, obviously my judgement will reflect that, but good sentence style with poetic flair will grab my attention. I'm not sure what you mean by presentation.

And NOTED! Great stuff. :) Thank you. The more brutal the better in my opinion, so hopefully other people will contribute at some point. I feel these are important questions for anyone serious about getting published.

With presentation, I just mean too many short paragraphs in a row or similar length sentences throughout. Or paragraphs that are too big. That sort of stuff.
 

apocalypsegal

Senior Member
As someone who has studied writing and publishing for a lot more years than I like to admit, I'm going to give you my answers which are based on said study. My answers will be in bold type.

I realise the answers will have to be generalisation and that nothing is 'clear cut'.

1: On receiving a piece of work, what are the main things that would have you immediately throwing it on the slush pile?

Failure to follow formatting instructions. Failure to have written and sent in edited work to a basic standard. Failure to have sent said work that is the stated genre.

2: What are you looking for in the first paragraph that will encourage you to continue reading?

A good hook. Nothing cliched, poorly written, or rambling.

3: At the end of page one, what would you hope has been established, and so make you turn the page?

I want to know who the main character is, and why I should care about them. This is something an editor is going to want to know, because it's what readers want. The days of spending chapters setting up for the story are long gone, you have to set the story up so that the brief moment a potential buyer gives the book, out of the many thousands they could buy, is enticing enough to make they buy.

4: You've finished the first chapter. What are the main ingredients that would make you start chapter 2?

An interesting story. I need to know what happens next. How does it work out for the main character?


5: How much of a story/novel do you need to read for you to consider it for publication?

Well, can't answer this one, but I can say I often skip a story based on the sales copy, or if I get past that, the first couple of paragraphs. I'm not alone. Too much vying for my attention these days, and I don't have time to waste on bad stories.

6: Is style and presentation sometimes enough motive for 2/3/4/5?

Not really. Even the best writing style means nothing if the story isn't good.

If you want to learn more about what publishers are looking for, try some of the agent sites. They know what they can sell, what the current publishing market is looking for. Read up on some of the more recent writing books out from trad writers (not from self publishers, we have an entirely different work process). They'll be written to work with the current styles and needs of publishing houses. Down to the Big Three now, I believe, though there are smaller houses, and some indie presses who might accept different stuff.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
As someone who has studied writing and publishing for a lot more years than I like to admit, I'm going to give you my answers which are based on said study. My answers will be in bold type.



If you want to learn more about what publishers are looking for, try some of the agent sites. They know what they can sell, what the current publishing market is looking for. Read up on some of the more recent writing books out from trad writers (not from self publishers, we have an entirely different work process). They'll be written to work with the current styles and needs of publishing houses. Down to the Big Three now, I believe, though there are smaller houses, and some indie presses who might accept different stuff.

Marvellous stuff. Thank you very much. My current strategy is to work on several short stories to get my hand in again, and hopefully get one or two published. If not, the practice is enough for me. Then, when I'm comfortable with my writing style again, I intend to go back to one of my unfinished novels and continue from there. Again, thank you.
 
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