It can be quite exciting, watching the submissions coming in. We at Bridge House tend not to look at them until the submission period is over. We don’t want to start making decisions until we have the whole range.
However it’s disappointing when it’s clear that some people have just not read the guidelines. We’ve had several novels submitted. Nowhere on our site does it say we’re interested in novels. We have only ever published one novel and have decided that we prefer our anthologies of short stories. Not that there is anything wrong with Laura Wilkinson’s Bloodmining. In fact, we’re rather proud of it. Our sister impring, The Red Telephone, publishes ya novels. But Bridge House's strength is definitely the short story. So, we’ve rejected these novels outright.
We’ve also said that we don’t want children’s stories this time round. We’ve been sent a few. I’ve actually not rejected these straight away. Some might be all right. They might fit in with our “snowflakes” theme.
How we choose
The two editors look through half each. We put them into three lists: definitely yes, maybe and no.
If we have too few with the maybes, we may make another call.
If we have too many, we put them in rank order and just publish the best 24. (We want this number so that one story can be read on each day of Advent) We check each other’s and if we think one that we have rejected is stronger than some of the ones the other has recommended a conversation takes place.
How we judge
If the answer to the following questions is “yes” then it’s a definite or a maybe.
· Is it well written?
· Is the story arc firm?
· Does it fit with this year’s theme?
Obviously how well text answers these questions will influence its ranking.
In addition we’ll consider how much editing is needed.
If we’re looking at a writers we’ve published before we might consider how well they react to editorial comment. Can they easily make the changes we require? I’m pleased to say we not really had any problems with any of our authors. So, if you’re known to us you’re part the way up the ladder.
Rejection isn’t personal
We sometimes reject people we’ve published before. Sometimes, even, the text they’ve sent this time is actually superior to the one we’ve published before. It’s often a matter of what else is around as well.
The exciting bit
It’s nice letting everybody know they’re included though less pleasant sending out rejections.
Next, of course, comes the hard work of getting what is already good even better and finally we’re into the very exciting time when we release and launch the book.