I need to crack on with choosing stories for Issue 3 of The Yellow Room and proofreading them ready for the typesetter. I sometimes think the most difficult part of an editor's job is choosing the stories which will feature in any given issue. It's also one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. So why is it difficult?
When I first read the stories that are submitted I'm not always conscious of the stories I already have on file. I judge a story on its own merits. I can't always remember the other stories I have on file anyway. Once I've accepted a story, it gets filed away. The hard copy goes into a plastic folder along with the others I've accepted, and the electronic copy goes into a file on the computer. When it gets close to publication time, I dig out the plastic folder and start to shuffle through the hard copies. I always look at the dates on the covering letters accompanying the stories first. I usually mutter, 'Oops', when I see that I accepted a particular story a year or more ago. 'That really needs to go in the next issue. I can't keep this writer waiting any longer to see their story in print.' Then, as I look through, I notice there are several stories which I accepted over twelve months ago. Then I have dilemma. If I published all these stories in chronological order according to the dates they were accepted for publication, then I wouldn't have a good mix of stories and the magazine wouldn't be the best it can be. Who do I let down yet again? This is the part of the job I don't like. I then start thinking along the lines of, maybe the magazine should come out quarterly. I think that's how I ended up publishing QWF bi-monthly and becoming overwhelmed in the process.
So, I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that if you're a writer whose story I accepted over twelve months ago and you still don't see your story in print in Issue 3, it's nothing personal. It could be that the half a dozen stories I accepted from May to August 2008 all had a similar theme. Believe me, it happens. Maybe I should be more discerning when I do the first read through and make sure I know the themes of the other stories I have on file? That's what a good editor should do, I guess. Maybe that's why editors like Gaynor Davies reject so many stories? Not because they're badly written, but because she already has so many similar stories on file.
Once a magazine starts to build a reputation and become more popular, then the more fussy an editor can afford to be and the more frequently he/she will send out rejections. Sad, but true.