First off I would like to give my apologies to my Seattle Examiner readers. The site has been down, off, and way wonky this past week. Hang in there with me, I’ll keep trying to get you high quality stories!
I know I’m speaking for myself, but when I get a rejection, I always assume they didn’t like my writing. But Kristina Wright shows us, as an editor, there can be many reasons a story is rejected:
“After being a writer for, well, forever, it was a unique and wonderful experience to edit an erotica anthology for Cleis Press. Fairy Tale Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women is a collection of retold and original fairy tales with erotic twists. I received over 160 submissions and selected 18 stories. That means for every story I accepted, I rejected nine. If that sounds depressing and daunting, please read my happily-ever-after rejection story at the end of this article.
Here were the most frequent reasons I rejected good stories. Rejecting the other stories—some that I couldn’t make heads or tails of and which made me question whether they were written in English—is another story.
* Stories that weren’t fairy tales. ?
o I took a looser interpretation of “fairy tale” than my publisher did, but there were still some stories that weren’t even in the ballpark. No matter how well-written and entertaining, f I couldn’t make some connection to the fairy tale genre, I had to reject it. If I had to guess, I’d say these were stories that had been written for other anthologies and recycled. It’s fine to “regift” a story, especially if it’s one you really love—I’ve done it myself—but it’s important to tweak that story to fit the guidelines.
* Stories that weren’t women-centered. ?
- There were a handful of stories that were clever and compelling but didn’t quite hit the mark when it came to being women-centered. Either the story was told entirely from the male protagonist’s viewpoint and we never got a sense of the female character(s) or the story was too focused on male sexuality to the exclusion of female pleasure.
* Stories that simply weren’t erotic. ?
- There are a couple of stories in Fairy Tale Lust that are on the softer side of erotica and a couple that push the boundaries of hardcore, as well as all the shades of passion in between. But a story must have some sensual or sexual elements, no matter how subtle, in order to be considered erotic.
* Stories that were either too short or too long. ?
- The guidelines called for stories between 1500 and 4000 words. That is a pretty flexible word count and I even allowed plus or minus 10% in a couple of cases. And still there were a couple of great stories that I just couldn’t include because they would have thrown off the balance of the collection. One was little more than a flash fiction piece of 500 words, the other bordered on novella-length at 7500 words. Great pieces both, but not for this collection.
I promised a happily-ever-after rejection story, didn’t I? Well, there was one story in particular that I fell in love with but ultimately rejected. It came in early, so I read it several times over the reading period. I even had it in the lineup for a while, but it never quite “fit” the book. I lost sleep over this story and even asked the author to send me something else because I was so captivated by the writing style, but the second story didn’t have the magic of the first. For three months, I went back and forth over whether to include this story in Fairy Tale Lust. In the end, I just couldn’t do it. How much I loved the story had to take a backseat to the big picture– the theme and readership of this particular book.
In the end, I suggested a different market for the story—a market that I knew was a perfect match for this author’s voice—and the author followed my advice. A few months later, I received a note of the story’s sale and thanks from the author for the recommendation. For me, that was as gratifying as being able to write the acceptance letters for the stories that I did include in Fairy Tale Lust.
The moral to this story is, of course, that a single rejection doesn’t count for much. It simply means that a particular story is not right for a particular market at a particular time. It’s a good reminder because I’m as guilty as every other writer of wailing over rejections and not putting them in perspective. It’s hard to be rejected (and now that my first editing gig is behind me, I can say it’s also hard to be the one doing the rejecting), but in the end it’s just one person’s opinion. In this case, mine.
For more info: About Fairy Tale Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women:
Kristina Wright goes over the river and through the woods to find the sexiest fairy tales ever written. Playfully seductive, supernaturally sensual, and darkly erotic, Fairy Tale Lust showcases clever twists to classic tales and introduces new stories inspired by the ever-popular genre. Here, a walk in the forest is likely to lead to an erotic encounter with a mysterious stranger or the silver light of a full moon might illuminate an orgy of sensual delights. Top erotica contributors deliver sizzling work, including Janine Ashbless, Delilah Devlin, Shanna Germain and Saskia Walker.??Also includes stories by Andrea Dale, Craig Sorensen, Justine Elyot, Louisa Harte, Alegra Verde, Allison Wonderland, Kristina Wright, Jeremey Edwards, Aurelia T. Evans, Carol Hassler, Alana Nöel Voth, Michelle Augello-Page, Charlotte Stein, and A.D.R. Forte.
Kristina Wright is an award winning author whose erotica and erotic romance fiction has appeared in over eighty anthologies. She is a member of the Erotica Readers and Writers Association, Romance Writers of America, and Passionate Ink. She also received the Golden Heart Award for Romantic Suspense from Romance Writers of America for her first novel Dangerous Curves. Kristina teaches both English and Humanities at the college level.