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Monday, May 19, 2014


Dear -------

On Sunday, the other On Spec editors and I made our final picks of the stories that will appear in upcoming On Spec issues. You would think that after doing this for twenty-three years that I wouldn't be surprised by anything, but it appears that even after all of this time, I am. I'm speaking of editorial bias, and why we choose the stories we do.

I am always amazed when I think a story is awesome and others don't find it so. I just want you to know that I was stubborn enough to fight for the stories I loved, even if others didn't agree with me. To be fair, I also need to point out that my fellow editors also fought for what they thought was wonderful, even if I didn't share their opinion. Because On Spec is a collaborative effort, we will always pick our favorites, and especially so if one of us champions the work.

Editorial bias/personal taste - there's no way around it. My opinion of what I think is brilliant isn't always shared by others. When it comes to my own writing, as in, when I'm the one submitting and waiting for an editor's decision, it's the one thing that frustrates me most. We all like to think our writing is excellent. It would be great if everyone else thought so, too.

A while back, I did an ABC's post on rejection. If we rejected you, I just want you to know that it's very likely that your story came close. When you have four (or more) editors reading work, there will always be a lot of discussion. If there is a general consensus that a story was good but had a minor flaw, it may be that that flaw was what kept the story from making it into the magazine, as compared to a story that someone cares strongly about.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but we received over five hundred stories this submission window. Of those five hundred, we only bought eight. One other story is still under consideration. Part of the reason for this is we are waiting to hear how we will fare with our future grant funding. As well, we have already purchased stories from a prior submission's window. Only eight new stories out of five hundred should tell you that we had to be extremely selective this time around. With a very diverse editorial bias as part of our equation, if we rejected your work, I hope you'll realize that it doesn't necessarily reflect on your work's quality or value.

I have yet to contact those writers whose work we are accepting, and also to advise those we are rejecting. I will do that this coming week, as will my fellow editors regarding those pieces that fall under their jurisdiction. This will be my last Letter to the Slush Pile for a while, so I'll pen the sign-off I use on much of my writing correspondence. I mean the sentiment truly. It's been a pleasure. Thank you for sharing your work with me.

All the best to you in your future writing endeavours.

 - Susan.


  1. Anonymous8:56 AM

    Forgive the adverb, but this is beautifully written. Thank you! Informative and encouraging to writers everywhere.

    1. Thank you very much. I appreciate the compliment. I'm glad you found the post encouraging. I hoped it would be. - S.

  2. You have said it all so well, Susan. Thank you for your dedication. As always, it's an honour to be at the decision meeting with so many talented editors.

  3. Thank you, Barb. I think our diversity as editors makes the magazine stronger. It certainly makes Fight Nights livelier!

  4. William9:01 PM

    This was a very enlightening and interesting series of posts. Thanks for taking the time to do them well.

  5. My pleasure, William. Thanks for your interest and support.