Survey of December 2015

Preliminary results

The survey was too long. I grant that, and appreciate the time respondents took to fill it out. Demographic data were similar to the first survey, and broadly people preferred the current feedback style, so future surveys will likely concentrate on a few key questions.

A few specifics

Anonymity – while a few submitters strongly preferred anonymity, most didn’t care. We’ll drop this requirement for the following reasons:

  1. anonymizing requires more work from submitters
  2. we read stories whether they’re anonymized or not, so while we feel anonymity can have value, we don’t use it as a filter
  3. most of the ‘name’ authors that submit to us don’t anonymize, so that value is lost in any case

Type of feedback – most preferred things the way they are. Some were interested in “Work on your: X” or opening line feedback, but generally only in addition to other feedback.

  • Cutoff – most people like that. I want to clarify here, though. The slush-readers stop whenever they want to. I, as the editor, read every piece all the way through, even if I know on page one that I won’t buy it. So, even if the cuoff says “start”, the comments are from reading the whole story.
  • Prose scale – some found it very useful, some found it useless
  • Comments
    • Tone – the blunter the better, according to almost everyone, though there were a few who thought the tone was too harsh. Everyone has good and bad days, so I’ll aim for even more direct comments most of the time.
    • Content – most people were happy. Some found the comments too general to be useful, or wanted them to be more directive. A fair number found the comments appropriate, but disagreed with them.

What the editor likes – a fair number pointed out that it can be hard to judge brief comments without knowing more about what the editor likes. I agree, and that’s one reason there’s a sample story posted. Some people really didn’t like the story, and that’s fair. Once the magazine launches, there will of course be new stories every week that you can use to discern what it is I look for.

Rewrites – almost everyone was happy to consider a rewrite. In practice, we find that about 60% of authors take up rewrite offers.

Suggestions –  There were two main suggestions for different ways to approach feedback.

  1. a tabular response, with scoring for various elements of the story. I agree that that would be useful, but it would simply take too much time to implement.
  2. A page with quotes from/about rejections. That’s an interesting idea I’ll have to think about; I’ll have to check whether disembodies quotes would provide enough context to be useful.

Again, thanks to all of you for responding to this (long) survey, and especially to those who wrote free-text responses, whether critical or supportive; it’s all helpful. I’ll revise this page if further responses change the results.

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