Friday, October 28, 2005

What's Wrong With This Form Rejection?

`Tis the season.

Just got back a form reject from Baen's Astounding Stories.

Let's play: What's wrong with this form rejection? See if you can spot it!

Baen's Astounding Stories wishes to woo back the casual reader and
become part of his entertainment habits. In that spirit, we are looking for thumping good stories, with plot, theme, character and resolution. We do not demand that your ending be so shocking that no one can see it coming and -- in fact -- no one can see where it came from. We don't demand that your idea be startlingly original, only that your execution of it be so.

We are not aiming to make you a literary star -- whatever that might be. We're trying to entertain readers. We are competing for a reader's beer money. We want stories that make the reader put the beer down and read to the end in breathless hurry. And we want him to feel satisfied with the logic of the ending when he gets there. If in addition the stories make him think, so much the better.

We want boys and their beer money! If your story's made for women who swill beer, too bad!

Strangely enough, instead of getting a simple "we don't want your story" I received a treatise on why the editors believe that so much fantasy/Science fiction sucks these days:

Over the last few years, perhaps because so many of our readers are also writers, science fiction and fantasy authors working in short form fiction have devoted themselves to outdoing each other in form and artifice, in the originality of the plots and the sheer shock of the stories' endings -- which often had nothing to do with what had come before. In the process often -- though not always -- the simple enjoyment of the story was lost and with it the casual reader's attention.

Let's face it, over the last few years stories have been more of a vehicle for awards than for readership and award committees move in different ways from those of a fan looking for a thumping good story.

Basically, if you're a "literary" writer looking to win "awards" it means you're bad at telling stories; your story, by virtue of its "literaryness" must have no plot and suffers from a lack of "simple enjoyment." Literary writers need not apply.

heh. heh. You want hack stories?

Oh, honey, I have hack stories!

Baen: lowering the bar.

Someday, I'm going to get into trouble for doing this sort of thing in public.

9 comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Ide Cyan said...

Mind if I post a link to this entry on Whileaway ? 

Posted by Ide Cyan

Anonymous said...

Baen is one of the hackiest of sff publishers. I don't often see anything of interest by them. Not much comfort, I know, but...

Posted by NancyP

Kameron Hurley said...

Go for it, Ide 

Posted by Kameron Hurley

Ide Cyan said...

Done . 

Posted by Ide Cyan

Anonymous said...

Sex it up and hack it up, resubmit it under a different name with some of the details slightly changed, that might work. But yeah, the educated, writerly award winning reader is our worst customer. We need simple ad copy people! Bright shiny shit for the masses. Except the masses have moved on, that's why they're now reading *AND* writing. Evolution, always a dangerous concept who's time has not yet come, even for the SF publishing crowd.

Oh for the days when you'd get a 1 paragraph rejection saying 'We can not use your contribution at this time. Please keep us in mind for the future however.' Yeah, I'd rather read your bloviating rejection twaddle 'cause my Congress critter no longer writes in complete sentences when he answers my mail. Thanks!

Cheers, 'VJ'  

Posted by VJ

Charlie said...

This is also being discussed on James Nicoll's blog . You might be interested in reading my comments there, speaking as an author who's (a) sold to Baen's Astounding Stories and (b) won a Hugo for work elsewhere. Hint: there's more to this than meets the eye. 

Posted by Charlie Stross

Kameron Hurley said...


Posted by Kameron Hurley

David Moles said...

"Let's face it, over the last few years stories have been more of a vehicle for awards than for readership and award committees move in different ways from those of a fan looking for a thumping good story."

You know what? A couple of hours ago Frederik frickin' Pohl told me he liked my story. I could give a damn what Eric Flint thinks of award committees.

Kameron Hurley said...