Don't Write What You Know;
Write What You Care About -- Passionately!
How My Review Process Works
Stories received during an open call for anthologies go through a 3-4 stage review process.
Please note I don't start working on the review process until the submission period closes for the anthology.
This is where I open each story and do a quick read of the first page - if the story draws me in enough to want to continue reading past that first page - it moves forward to the second stage.
I don't look very closely at formatting at this stage - so if you fail to follow standard manuscript formatting it typically doesn't affect whether you move to the next stage or not.
If your story draws me in enough that I find myself reading to the end it may even get bumped to the 3rd read folder - bypassing the 2nd read folder completely.
Other than knowing the total number of submissions received - I don't track the numbers.
I don't send out rejection notices until I go through the 2nd read folder - this is where I do look at the numbers and if I still have more stories than I'm planning on accepting I will then send out the rejections for those that didn't make it into the 2nd read folder.
First thing I do is look for those stories that failed to follow standard manuscript formatting and move those stories to a formatting issues folder. If your story ends up here - that means it is at the bottom of the review stack. If I move enough stories into the 3rd read folder your story will not reviewed and you will receive a rejection for not following formatting guidelines.
After I pull any stories for formatting issues, I then sit down to read all of the stories slated for a 2nd read. I plan to read each story to the end, but if I find myself being easily distracted or not caring about the characters or their story, I will stop and then move the story to the rejection folder. Stories that I find myself drawn into and I finish all the way to the end will move to the 3rd read folder.
Depending on the number of stories moved to the 3rd read folder - I then go ahead and send the rejections for stories with formatting issues. I do not send the 2nd read rejections at this point as I want to make sure I end up with enough stories. I have also in the past ended up doing two anthologies when only one was planned and if that happens I will go back through the rejected stories to see if any of them can convince me they should be included.
This is where I go through the stories that made it into the 3rd read folder. Since they have already been read through once - this is to see if they continue to hold my attention and still draw me into the story. I will also be looking more closely at things like word count, overall theme of the story (how well it fits with the other stories I will be accepting).
Depending on how many stories move to the acceptation folder, I will consider a second anthology and do a 4th read to trim the TOC down to the appropriate number of stories and word count.
Once I have the final TOC set, I will send out contracts to the stories I would like to accept and the rest of the rejections.
NOTE TO AUTHORS:
Please note my emails are a blend between a form and a more involved rejection. The most common reason for a rejection is that your story just didn't grab my attention and I wasn't compelled enough to keep reading. This is not a slam on you or your writing. When an editor is reading submissions, they are first looking for stories that grab their attention, stories that appeal to them and if I stop reading early in the story (especially for those that don't make it into the 2nd read folder) I'm not going to have any critiques to offer.
Also, just because your story might not have grabbed my attention - doesn't mean another editor won't love it and snap it up.
Stories that are accepted for magazines and anthologies are quite frequently a matter of personal preference on the part of the editor; and well-written and crafted stories are often rejected because they just didn't appeal to that specific editor or didn't fit with the vision they had for that issue or anthology or for their press.
Never take rejections personally, but look at any feedback the editor takes time to give and re-read your story with that feedback in mind. You may disagree with what the editor said and that's fine, but taking the time to consider it and think about why you agree or disagree with help you grow as a writer.
Best of luck to you in all your writing endeavors and keep writing.