Do you ever wonder the process your story goes through after you've hit submit? I'll enlighten you. The first thing I do is look at the cover letter. It's the very first impression I have of a new-to-us author. Naturally I look to see if they have any previous publications included in their cover letter, but more often what I'm looking at is the tone. For example - Dear Tristan is almost too informal, Dear Editor is good, but terribly lazy and Yo! Wattup? is the only response that will instantly put you in the slush pile. Thankfully none of the latter have arrived. For those of you who want (and there are those of you who should want) to read more about Proper Cover Letters - I recommend this article: https://alexshvartsman.com/2016/05/09/how-to-write-a-proper-short-story-cover-letter/ .
After the cover letter comes the submission. When I first read a story I look to answer the question 'what is this story about?' I look to make sure there aren't obvious scientific errors (For example in Larry Niven's first edition of Ringworld his protagonist travels East to avoid the sunset.) There's the obvious first scan for grammatical or spelling errors. I want to make sure their story avoids stereotypes or tropes and that the writing isn't too hackneyed. Mostly, my first read through is just to enjoy the pleasure of reading a new story.
The next day. after a restful night of sleep, I read it again and begin to delve into things. I look for character development, use of science and world-building. If a story is hard science-fiction I do my research to make sure the science is accurate and meaningful. I look at sentence structure, paragraph structure and I look at flow. The most important question I ask again is "What is this story about?" I don't mean what the plot is, which is fairly self-evident from the first read. I ask 'What is this story about?" What is the story trying to tell me. This may sound like an easy process, but with really well written stories or intriguing plots it can sometimes take days. Mostly because I have eighteen or twenty other things that call for my attention as well. Despite the propaganda editors are not locked in their windowless, closet-sized office under a sea of papers for 18 hours a day. (Really, it's only 15)
Sometimes a story is well written, but it doesn't quite fit with our tastes. Sometimes a story fits with our tastes, but isn't well written. Sometimes a story is well-written and fits with our tastes, but we have too many stories of that type already published. The variables are numerous and I won't bore you with elaboration. This blog was mostly to give you a bit of behind-the-scenes insight and to point those who need it to an article about good cover-letter writing. Hopefully, it's useful insight.
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