This apparently is the favorite post of all time on my blog — so I thought I’d offer it up again for your entertainment.
A well known editor, famous for his prolific publications and speedy responses, often delivered the line, “it just didn’t grab me,” as the coup-de-grace of his rejections. I’ve noticed he stopped doing that recently, perhaps because he thought it had become formulaic. Based on conversations with fellow writers, it may also have been because people began including pinching bugs, mechanical hands or live lobsters hidden in their submissions.
Nonetheless, “grabbing the editor” is a critical part of making a sale, whether of a short story or a novel. There is not, sadly, a magic formula that guarantees your work will grab every editor because ultimately it does come down to editorial choice. A story that is loved by one will be discarded by another.
When the guidelines suggest you read recent copies of the magazine before submitting, they aren’t simply trying to sell you a copy (since the on-line ones are frequently free), they…
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