Fiction Ed’s Blog: Streamlining Our Story Feedback

Shutterstock / oatawa © story feedback

Here at the “Friend”, giving story feedback has always been important to us.

We read and respond to every submission — hundreds every year.

When a story isn’t successful

Regular contributors may remember that in the past, we had a selection of standard rejection letters available, called “rets”.

These letters gave a standard reply, but with a clear indication of where your story would benefit from further attention.

Our submissions system has changed recently, and part of this change is that all unsuccessful submissions from previously unpublished “Friend” authors will now receive a standard response.

Why is this changing?

Firstly, we have been unable to access our office since March 2020 – that’s now nearly fifteen months. So we have a huge backlog to deal with, and this will take time.

Secondly, the market for magazine fiction has shrunk considerably in the past few years. This means that we now have many more submissions to handle, in the same amount of time.

We hope that providing a standard response will shorten the time contributors wait for our reply.

If you’re not sure why you were unsuccessful

Although our small team is unable to offer individual story feedback, the simplest way to familiarise yourself with what we’re looking for is to read the magazine regularly.

The Fiction team post on our website regularly; our guidelines are available online; and on Tuesdays at 11am, there’s an opportunity to ask questions during our Writing Hour.

If you’ve received a rejection from us and you’re not sure where you’ve gone wrong:

*Check the word count – we don’t use anything less than 1000 words, or over 10,000 words.

*Was your story suitable for our readership – in theme, tone, or content?

*Was the story line predictable, inappropriate, or unbelievable? Were the characters engaging?

*Did your story have a feel-good tone, and resolve positively?

*Did it offer the readers something fresh?

For more from Fiction Ed Lucy, read her blog here.

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!