Submission Critiques

Distilling an entire world and a complete story arc into 7,500 words or less is exceptionally challenging and requires an uncommon mastery of the written word.

Ratings

EXCELLENT: It doesn’t get better than this. We rarely grant this rating.
GREAT: Author demonstrates above average skill in this area.
GOOD: Author performs at an average skill level in this area.
FAIR: This area requires a bit more development.
NEEDS IMPROVEMENT: We recommend concentrating your efforts on improving these areas.

We rarely accept stories that rank lower than “Great” or “Excellent” in all critique areas.

Criteria

PREMISE: Is the premise fresh and intriguing?
AUTHENTICITY: Does this story feel real?
CHARACTERS:
Did the characters seem real?
DIALOGUE:
Did the conversations sound realistic?
DETAILS:
Do the words paint vivid pictures?
PACING:
Does the rhythm of the story serve it well?
THEME:
How strong is the underlying message?
CLARITY:
Is the writing clear?
WORD CHOICE:
Is language being used to its fullest potential?
GRAMMAR:
Are the sentences structured properly?
SPELLING:
Are correct spellings and homonyms used? 
DREAD FACTOR:
How unsettling is the story?

SUBMISSION STATUSES

Your Submission Dashboard

When you’re logged into your account, you can check the status of your submission(s) on your Dashboard page

Pending Review

All submissions are immediately given this status to indicate that they’re waiting to be reviewed by an editor. This process could take anywhere from one week to two months, depending on the number of submissions in queue before yours.

CONDITIONALLY ACCEPTED

Submissions given this status require a bit more work before we can make a formal offer. Submissions given this status will very likely be approved after a bit of polishing. Please resubmit once the suggested changes have been made. If you’d like help perfecting your submission, you can join our Surgical Center critique group and our Discord server.

Shortlisted

Submissions given this status are preliminary accepted for publication. The only thing holding up our acquisition of this story is our budget. Don’t wait on us, though. Feel free to submit your story elsewhere. If someone grabs it before us, let us know and we’ll remove it from our queue. If they don’t, well, our offer stands.

Accepted

This status indicates that your submission has been approved for publication. Once you approve the offer and sign our Publication Agreement, payment will be send by check or made directly to your Paypal account, per your preference. You’ll be given Mechanist status both on The Dread Machine and in our Discord server.

In Revisions

An editor is reviewing your accepted submission, suggesting edits, and leaving notes for you. After they’re done, they’ll send you a zipped folder containing your edited file and a suggested feature image to accompany your story. You’re free to reject any edits you dislike and rework them to your preference. You’re also welcome to suggest a different feature image. We consider story production to be a highly collaborative process. Our acceptance of your story isn’t contingent on your acceptance of our edits.

This is still your story and it will bear your name. We want you to be proud of the end result. The file you return to us will very likely be the one that appears on the site. If we still feel the story requires work, we’ll repeat this process until we’ve birthed a product we both love.

Published

When your story has this status, it is LIVE. We’ve published it on our site. All published stories are promoted on our social profiles and in our podcast episodes. We also feature them periodically on the front page. Published posts will appear on the Machinations tab of your Mechanist profile. Disciples and Acolytes will be able to easily find your work and will receive notifications whenever we publish new stories of yours.

Declined

Works are typically declined for one of the following reasons:

QUALITY. The story isn’t ready to be published because it requires a considerable deal of editing and/or development. Publishing the piece wouldn’t reflect well on the author or The Dread Machine.

SUITABILITY. The piece just isn’t right for us. The genre and/or tone aren’t suitable for the brand. For one reason or another, the story wouldn’t fit our readers’ expectations. This doesn’t mean your story is bad, just that it’s not a good fit for The Dread Machine.

ORIGINALITY. We either have something very similar to the submitted piece or it is too similar to existing stories.

Nobody enjoys sending or receiving rejection letters. However, we believe presenting anything less than the author's best work doesn't benefit anyone involved.

We strive to be constructive in our criticism

If we have rejected your submission and/or sent you a dismaying critique, please do not be discouraged from writing or resubmitting to us (or elsewhere) in the future. We believe everyone has the potential to become a celebrated writer, given enough education, practice, and resilience.