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What Editors Want

Red pen and edited manuscriptOne of the panels I was on at SpoCon was about what editors want. We talked mostly about short fiction acquisition editors, since two of us on the panel were just that, but we also talked about other formats a little bit.

The thing that I always come back to when talking about what short fiction acquisition editors want is based on three posts that Jeremy made a while back. You can read them here: one, two, three. Though these are his unique take on the subject (complete with animated GIFs!), I find that we agree strongly on these things. This might explain why we keep publishing together.

Because I wear multiple editing hats (acquisition and copy editing, primarily), I look at stories differently than someone who is only looking to acquire new stories. When I look at a story, I will see the typos. I can’t help it. It’s what I do. And if there are a lot of them, that might color my opinion of the story.

But ultimately, I’m looking at the bones of the story, to see if there’s something workable underneath the prose. Because prose can be fixed in editing. The bones are harder to fix without substantial back and forth between the author and the editor. And in the publishing world, there are few short fiction acquisition editors who have the time for that. At best, you might get a request for a revision and resubmission. At worst, you get a rejection. So this goes back to making sure that your story works, not just that the prose is pretty.

If you’ve read my blog regularly, you may have seen some tips for writing stories in my advice posts. I’m not saying I’ve got the magic solution, of course, only that I have some ideas that might help other people too!


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