Okay, you guys. Last night I took my first look at the names behind the HERO2 submissions, and you all blow me away. We had submissions from some seriously well-published folks, some friends, and writers from all over the world. I’m so glad we did this blindly, because I know I would have been swayed, had I seen the names and bios behind the stories we received. Hard decisions would have been even harder.
The Open Submissions stories have been separated into categories: No, Ask for Rewrite, and Yes. Last night, we sent out a batch of personalized rejections for the stories that we wished we could have taken, but which just didn’t adhere closely enough to the theme. Of all the letters, these are always the hardest. Ed and I had much dialogue about the stories in the “maybe” pile: whether a rewrite to bring them more in line with our theme would work, or whether it would just weaken the story; whether, assuming that the issue we had with the story was addressed, it would be strong enough to stand up with the others.
Some had great ideas but fell a little short on execution; some had great ideas and execution but didn’t have a hero, or a homecoming, or enough of an SF/F genre flavor, but were still excellent and will undoubtedly be perfect for another market. That’s not a platitude. If we tell you that, we mean it.
If a rejection isn’t personalized, it doesn’t mean that we didn’t like it. It doesn’t mean you should stop submitting your story because it won’t sell elsewhere. There’s a natural human response to seek explanations and make our own closure where none is given, but try to resist the urge to read between the lines and divine why your story didn’t work for us. It’s not because a character was gay, or wasn’t gay. It’s not because you’ve never been published before. It’s not because we didn’t understand your artistic genius or appreciate your attempt to do something different. It’s because there was a lot of great competition, and not all the stories could make the cut.
Ed and I are reading and discussing, but we both have a lot on our plates. We will try to get the rest of the responses to open submissions out this week or next. If you sent in an invited submission, please be patient just a little longer. We’ll be working out the difficult decisions for those in the next couple of weeks.