Thursday, 10 March 2011

Why Won't Editors Publish My Stories?

Maria from Almeria, Spain, wonders why her short stories keep getting rejected. She writes: I started writing short stories when we retired and moved to Spain. I know my stories are good because everyone who reads them says they are better than most short stories they’ve seen in magazines, but every magazine I’ve sent them to just sends them back again. How do I get an editor to publish them?

This is a familiar query, seen by everyone who answers questions from unpublished writers. I’m afraid the answer might not be what you want to hear, but I’m going to be honest with you, which is possibly more than your mum/gran/sister/husband/children/friends have been.

The simple fact is that those who care about us rarely tell the truth when it comes to our writing ability. This is not to be unkind, quite the opposite. It’s usually because they don’t want to hurt our feelings and so tell us what we want to hear, rather than the painful truth, which is simply that our writing may not yet be good enough to be published.

My advice is that you join a writing group and ask for honest constructive feedback on your stories. What you need is to receive criticism from people who will tell the truth. You need to know not only what is wrong with your writing, but also what is right with it. You won’t enjoy hearing the criticism and, no doubt, your ego will take a battering, but if you listen to other writers and learn from them, it’s very likely that you’ll find the success you seek.

If there isn’t a group nearby, why not join one of the many online writing groups? Look for one that has various levels of ability. If you only started writing recently then you may still be at the beginner stage, but as you improve you’ll want more advanced feedback. As you live in Spain, why not try the excellent Writers Abroad?

Good luck and please let me know if you have any success.

If anyone else has a question on writing that they would like answered, please drop me a line: 

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