What is a First Reader? An introduction to our role in the publishing process

So you’ve been writing? Decided to start submitting your works of short fiction to various magazines? I feel your pain. Rejection is imminent. Accept it, live with it, and you will get stronger. Above all else, keep writing. This blog is about writing. Samples of my work, previously published and upcoming, are featured here, but more than that it’s about the submission process. A First Reader, or Slush Reader, like myself will be handed the unenviable task of sorting through the submissions of a thousand aspiring literary geniuses such as yourself and helping the editors decide just which stories are worthy of their consideration. We read, we evaluate, and we either reject or pass on the work to the higher-ups.

My current area of expertise is in sci-fi and fantasy, two of the most heavily proliferated genres in short fiction, so let me get something out of the way. I read a lot of crap. Seriously. Tons. You can’t imagine the watery, poorly formed turds people try to pass off as finished work. But I’ll get into that later. The important thing to take away from this is that the first person to see your potential masterpiece probably won’t be the magazine’s editor. It’ll be someone like me, someone they’ve met, talked with, and come to trust with helping them process their submissions and finalize their published content. It’ll be someone a lot like you, aspiring writers. Someone with editorial experience? Maybe. someone who has a few published works of their own under their belts? In my case, yes. If you are very lucky, it’ll be someone who cares enough to give you sincere, honest, detailed feedback on your submission, whether or not it’s accepted.

That’s why I love Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores. They’ve never published me. In fact, they rejected three of my stories. Two of which I rewrote based on their detailed feedback and have since sold to other markets. That’s why I’m here. I want to share a few of my hard won insights from my work with CRaES, to help you avoid making the mistakes that will keep your stories from being published.

Don’t worry. This is going to be fun.

-Jamie

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