Why We Reject Stories

If we reject your story, it isn’t because we don’t like you or because we’re racist, sexist, anti-religion, or whatever. Most likely the reasons we’ll reject your story are a combination of the following:

  • Your submission doesn’t fit the theme.
    Our second issue is a Steampunk issue.  If you don’t submit a Steampunk story or poem, then we can’t be expected to accept it, now can we?
  • Your submission is written poorly.
    Broken English, bad sentences, too many spelling errors, and so on.  This is just normal business, folks.
  • Your submission is written well, but doesn’t quite snag us.
    This is probably the most common one we send out.  A submission may be quite good, but the ending isn’t right, or the story moves too slow, or something.  Maybe the story is really great, but one thing throws it off (we’ll likely ask for a rewrite).  The good news is this:  if this is why your story got rejected, it means we’d like to see more from you.  Good writers sometimes write stories that don’t work.

There are certainly other reasons for rejection, but they are too numerous and uncommon to list here.

I’m writing as a response to someone we rejected recently who seemed to imply that we didn’t want to print his/her story in the second issue of SBS because we are biased against Muslims.  Considering that my co-editor is, in fact, a Muslim, and considering our track record for being rather inclusive in the first issue (roughly 50/50 on gender and we didn’t ask about race, but knew that a handful of people in that issue were of color based on information made available to us), this is a rather ridiculous statement.  Coincidentally, this writer was rejected for a combination of the first two reasons above.  It wasn’t a Steampunk story and the writing was quite poor (not to mention that the author submitted it in an inappropriate format).

But, I guess this is just normal business, right?

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Issue #2: Submissions Open!

(Note: I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the length of the submission period. We are open to submissions until the issue is full. We expect that to take several months, if not longer.)

Submissions are officially open for Issue #2 of Survival By Storytelling Magazine. Please be sure to check our guidelines, as a few things have changed there, including this:

We are looking for poems and stories that fit within the Steampunk subgenre. All forms of Steampunk are acceptable, provided that the basic Steampunk “aesthetic” exists in your poem or story. While we are perfectly fine with what might be called the “typical” Steampunk story, we are also interested in new and unique takes on the genre, whether from an aesthetic or structural viewpoint. Literary forays into this subgenre are appreciated, along with stories or poems that treat seriously the “punk” in the name. What does real “punk” Steampunk look like? Show us and impress us. So long as it’s Steampunk, we’re interested.

We are also interested in non-fiction dealing with some aspect of the Steampunk genre: history, literary criticism, book reviews, writing advice, etc. So long as it comments upon this genre in some way (even vaguely, even on a very curious and obscure level), we’re interested.

(Note: While Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction, we have no preference for the quantity of fantastic or science fictional elements present within your work. We care more about the story than how many four-legged steam crawlers you have running around in your world. That’s not to say we don’t like four-legged steam crawlers (we do), but we want to have a very open mind when it comes to representations of this genre; if you’ve never written genre fiction before, now might be a good time to give it a shot, even if you are interested in a very limited genre feel.)

Survival By Storytelling Issue #2: Coming Soon!

After a lot of thinking and discussion with the various people who have thus far read the magazine and enjoyed it, I’ve decided I want to give a second issue a go regardless of what the end of this month shows in terms of sales. But there will be some changes:

  • Survival By Storytelling will be theme-based from now on.
    Some of the early criticisms of the first issue (which I completely agree with) were that the magazine didn’t seem to have a major theme except that all our contributors were fairly young.  Considering the publishing climate right now (as I see it), I think it would be best to think of ways to make the magazine appealing to a select, but more unified audience (if that makes sense, let me know).
  • SBS will flirt more with the edges of genre than it did in the first issue.
    Personally, I am a science fiction and fantasy nut.  While the first issue certainly did its fair share of flirting with genre fiction, I think taking the magazine more into territory I am familiar with will be best.  We will still take poetry and non-fiction (you can write poetry about technology; I know a guy who does it).
  • SBS will get a facelift.
    We’re going to build a whole new website for the magazine, change how we design the actual book, etc.  We’re also going to change how we market, and this will be aided by the above change, since I have a better idea how to talk to SF/F people than I do folks at The New Yorker (and I don’t mean that as a slight, since there is certainly a lot of crossover).
  • SBS will not be a strictly “genre” magazine.
    While our themes likely will be more genre based, I want to stress that we are not going to be just another genre magazine.  Yes, we’ll take genre, as we always have, but we absolutely do want to see literary approaches to our themes (even if such themes are specifically genre; you can interpret “literary” however you want).   If, for example, you can write an incredible Steampunk story with a compelling style and excellent attention to character, then we’ll probably take it, even if your Steampunk elements are light.

I think those are the only changes that need to be brought up.  While submissions are currently not open, we will be opening them soon.  I am working on updating the submission guidelines.  That said, I suppose I should reveal the theme for the second issue:  Steampunk.  We’ll have more detail in the coming weeks.

SBS Interview Series: Benjamin E. Nardolilli (“Summer of Artifice”)

(Benjamin E. Nardolilli is the author of “Summer of Artifice” in the first issue of Survival By Storytelling Magazine.)

How long have you been writing and what sparked your interest in it?
I have been writing seriously for roughly 5 or 6 years, though I was storytelling before that (and somewhat surviving.)

Who are some of your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books?
I enjoy TS Eliot, Sartre, John Berryman, Ezra Pound, Kierkegaard, Hunter S. Thompson, Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Whitman. You can imagine then what my favorite books are.

What inspired you to write your story/poem? Where did it come from?
The terrible summer of 2008, which shall henceforth not be mentioned again except by literary vices and devices.

What advice would you give to any budding young writers out there?
Always be writing something, even if it’s a questionnaire.

What, for you, makes a good story/poem?
Like a good amusement park ride, you return to the start and say, AGAIN!

If you could buy any one person alive today, who would you buy and why?
His holiness the Pope, Benedict XVI. I’d like to pitch a reality show where we live together.

More interviews to come! Make sure to check out the first issue of Survival By Storytelling!

SBS Interview Series: Nick Lyle (“One Last Look”)

(Nick Lyle is the author of “One Last Look,” one of the selections for the first issue of Survival By Storytelling Magazine.)

How long have you been writing and what sparked your interest in it?
I started writing stories when I was in second or third grade, but I didn’t become serious until eighth or ninth. I don’t know what exactly sparked my interest in it. I think I’ve always been interested in telling stories.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what are some of your favorite books?
Some of my favorite authors include Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, John Steinbeck, Raymond Carver, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. My favorite books include pretty much everything I’ve read from those authors, as well as Catcher in the Rye, Written on the Body, and The Mayor of Casterbridge. I also like some fantasy and science fiction, but besides Harry Potter, none of my favorites are coming to mind.

What inspired you to write your story/poem? Where did it come from?
My friend was trying his hand at flash fiction, so my competitive nature drove me to write “One Last Look.” I’ve always liked dark fantasy, and the idea just came to me while I was lying in bed. I quickly turned on a light and wrote it down.

What advice would you give to any budding young writers out there?
Write often and don’t get discouraged. Take criticism to heart, but, again, don’t get discouraged. Teenagers rarely write masterpieces.

What, for you, makes a good story/poem?
I think a story relies mainly on character. I can sift through thick language and endure a plot that digresses and meanders as long as I feel something for the characters.

If you could bring any one person back from the dead, who would it be and why?
I can’t really think of someone who I’d raise from the dead. I don’t think a person risen from the dead would make for lively conversation anyway, seeing as he or she would probably be too preoccupied with his or her own death.

More interviews to come!  Make sure to check out the first issue of Survival By Storytelling!

Question of the Week: Which writer would you bring back from the dead?

Full question: If you could bring back any one writer from the dead, who would it be and why?

For me, it would be Poul Anderson. He passed away not terribly long ago, but I credit him with further enhancing my interest in reading, studying, and writing science fiction (and fantasy). His short story “Call Me Joe” is still one of my favorite stories of all time.

So, if I could bring anyone back, even for a day, it would be him. I’d love to meet him, maybe pick his brain a bit to see what goes on in there and where all his ideas from, and figure out what he thinks about the world of today. Granted, this is all a little selfish. I wouldn’t want to bring him back to write the next great novel or anything like that (although that would be a lovely bonus); I would bring him back for me.

So, who would you bring back, and why?

Merry Christmas!

It’s a little early, but we wanted to say Merry Christmas to anyone reading the blog and to all of our contributors and fans!  Thank you all for making Survival By Storytelling an amazing new publication for young writers.  We hope you all have a great holiday and we’ll see you next year!

Now eat some cake and cookies and enjoy yourselves!

Question of the Week: What book inspired you to be a writer?

Many people have a book they remember fondly for sparking their interest in reading.  Sometimes it’s a classic, and others times it’s some obscure novel nobody has ever heard of before (for me it was The Legend of Human by Richard A. Knaak).  But what about books that inspired us to write?

Let us know what book turned you on to writing and why in the comments.  We want to know the intimate details of all those books that changed your life!

Book Giveaway (End of ’09 Contest)

I thought you all would be interested in this:

Over at my personal blog I am running a contest to win a copy of Survival By Storytelling OR a book of equal or lesser value if you already own a copy of SBS. You should head on over here for details. You don’t have to do a whole lot to participate, and it’s all for a free book, which is good, right?

So, go learn how to win a free book!

SBS Charity Project — World Education

The holidays have arrived and SBS and Young Writers Online want to do something a little more than just provide an excellent magazine and a community for young writers.  That’s why during the entire month of December we are donating 100% of YWO’s share of the proceeds from sales of Survival By Storytelling AND 100% of all proceeds for merchandise sales at Young Writers Online’s Zazzle Store to World Education.

World Education is a worldwide organization dedicated to improving or solving a wide range of economic, cultural, social, and educational problems, from low literacy rates and inadequate education to health and child labor. Its projects include everything from providing books to children to educating women to combating HIV and AIDS. World Education is doing a lot of work that other organizations are not by hitting many of the underlying issues that create poor literacy in the United States and the rest of world, developed or developing.

So, having said that, we’d like to ask everyone to spread the word about this. If you’re not interested in purchasing Survival By Storytelling, then please get a mug or funny t-shirt from our Zazzle store! Or, if you’re not interested in either, then head on over to World Education and donate on your own. Support this great organization and its efforts.

The charity drive runs until the 2nd of January.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send an email to sbsmag[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Thanks!