Sixty-two rejection letters sent out so far for issue 4 of Thrice. There are three works on the "maybe" pile, and ten yet to be read. All-in-all I expect we hit one hundred submissions easy before this is over.
It's not hard to write rejection notes. Sometimes, if the person is obviously sending their material to the wrong place, you can get away with a form letter. People should read the magazine before they submit so they may get an idea as to what we're doing. In truth, however, maybe the first three issues didn't have the complete vision in place yet; so I can't fault people too harshly for what may be my incomplete idea from before. But other times I find myself writing a more personal note. "You lost sight of what tense you're in", or "I was hooked but when it was over I wasn't sure I wanted to be." I try very hard to be constructive. I have kept every rejection letter I have ever gotten (I think) and have them in a box. Anyway... somewhere. So I don't say what some have said in my rejections. There's no need to be a jerk and, to be honest, most people aren't. Even a form rejection can be written with some measure of respect for the trying. I ran into a lot of angry young editors, mad at the world, in the past. I refuse to be one of those. Look out at you from my picture as if I hate you and everybody you know, sucking on a cigarette. No thanks.
But it is a two-way street. Writers can be pips just the same. I got one answer from a rejection almost demanding a detailed explanation as to why what they sent didn't work. I mean, my God, they had an appropriately quirky bio already contained in their cover letter and they seem a little out there, so why on Earth didn't you use my story? That kind of thing. Also "what did you mean when you said...?" Yikes. No, I do not answer letters or emails like that. Two or three submitters have sent something else on the heels of their rejection notes. One has done this twice, giving me three stories to nix. Some people are close. Some people will never get it.
Here's the deal - I want there to be nothing in Thrice except stuff I CAN'T WAIT for you to read. You. You, sitting there reading this right now. I want to look at something and say "This is great, I HAVE to show this to ___." And so far every piece, from some of the more traditional to some that are almost impossible to describe, fits that requirement.
No matter what you do, there are going to be people who don't like it. That's life. And I send rejection letters off knowing that some people will be pissed, some will take it in stride, and others may generate a small crisis for themselves. But something happened over the weekend that made this all superfluous. There have also been people who have questioned what we've put in Thrice. "Disappointed with the fiction," I recall being told at one point. And it's important what people think, because we're putting out an entry into the public media. So it's hard not to look back and ask yourself "what could I have done better?" It's only natural. But, as I said, something happened this weekend that made even this less important.
I'm having a service build me a website. A .com for myself. And I spent some time preparing some background information for them to add to it. While doing this, making a bibliography of my stuff and all that, I also made a list of some of the people who I published in the first zine I had in the early 90s. I published. That's the operative term. It was my call to put them in, amid all the other submissions I chose these people. My people. My picks. And when I looked at the list I realized that it hasn't all been a secret world of my own making, or a mystery achievement nobody knows of. I'm very proud - exceedingly proud - of the voices I picked for the Fiction Review. And we're doing it again. Only this time I have Dave2 as a co-creator, co-founder, and also the adult in the room. :-)
None of these people are great big honking names like Stephen King and all that. 99% of published writers still need to keep their day jobs. That's just how it is. You don't quit your job to "become a writer." You're cursed with it. But what they have done is had actual follow-up careers. They were for real, and I saw it coming. Me, over here. And some of the people who were already somewhat established sent stuff in on their own volition. I asked no one to help.
So the #4 issue of Thrice Fiction is a month or so away. And every last word in it is going to be pretty good. After all, I have a track record of finding people who seem to make something out of their disease.
Here's some folks who made it into the first magazine I did. Some were just getting started, others were established in a small circle and were starting to expand their audiences. I think it's a pretty good group. You should check them out.
Just a few Fiction Review alums...
Gorman Bechard (he has the story "A Pretty Girl" which first appeared in the Fiction Review, on his website.
William P. Haynes (aka Elliot)
Sheila E. Murphy
Lorri Jackson (also pictured on the right side of the title banner above)
Plus there's Charlize Theron up there. So there is that.