‘Why Short Stories Get Rejected’, available on Amazon.co.uk at just £1.54 for the Kindle edition, is one of three books written by Linda as part of ‘The Professional Writer Series’, the other two being ‘A Writers Glossary’ and ‘How to Make £10 in Ten Minutes’. Having followed Linda’s ‘Short Story Writer’ column in ‘Writers Forum’ for a number of years, I have found her advice for writers to be sound and sensible. (Sadly, this column has now been discontinued.) She has a wealth of long experience writing short stories, mostly for womag, and she also runs seminars and writing courses. She is the only writing advice columnist I know of who is prepared to give out her email address in a writers’ magazine and invite readers to contact her.
‘Why Short Stories Get Rejected’ distils her experience over almost twenty years into eighteen ‘Reasons for Rejection’, some of which are glaringly obvious (like keeping within the given word count) but still need to be said, and others more subtle, like distinguishing between a ‘twist’ and ‘surprise’. She makes the point that her experience is rooted in womag, but much of what she says applies across the board. And despite the title, the content wasn’t all negative. My next short story will certainly benefit, in a very direct way, from reading this book, although a lot of practice will be needed to take in all her advice. She does however make the point that, even if you do do all the right things, rejection can be down to just bad luck, the editor having, say, just filled his four Christmas slots before she picks up your sub or having just accepted a story with a similar theme to yours. The moral is not to beat yourself up, but get the thing out there again, as soon as possible. Like she did – and still does!
The style of the book is very readable and occasionally funny, without being in the least preachy. As was evident from her column, Linda shares her experiences, without telling you what to do. Do I recommend ‘Why Short Stories Get Rejected’ to fiction writers? Yes, definitely. Would I read ‘A Writers Glossary’ and ‘How to Make £10 in Ten Minutes? Well, I just might.