We know rejections sting, but we urge you not to be discouraged by them and instead to see them as an inevitable part of the job. As a writer, you are pitching a product to customers whose needs and preferences you can’t possibly be expected to anticipate or fully understand. If you’d like some reassurance, check out our Inner Workings page, where you can find all of our submission statistics.
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The following publications are very similar to The Dread Machine. They are credible, trustworthy, and publish similar content. We encourage you to consider submitting your declined story to them, as it might be just what they’re looking for.
We utilize an entirely blind review system. Every submission put before our Gatekeepers has been stripped of the author’s identifying details. None of us (Alin and Monica included) have any clue who wrote the submission. Only after a submission has been accepted do we learn the author’s identity. We don’t care who you are, which organizations you’re a member of, how many awards you have, or how large your Twitter following is. We focus on the story alone. This system creates a level playing field. Stories must stand on their own merit, separate from the author’s name, reach, and professional accomplishments.
Our system requires majority consensus. To make it to our executive editor’s desk, a story must first be approved by at least two Gatekeepers. Then, it must be approved by Monica, our acquiring editor. The story is then reviewed by Alin who makes the final call.
Very few of the submissions we receive make it through this process. You can see our stats here. In 2021, we only accepted 1.4% of the submissions we received.
Most often, we decline stories for the following reasons:
QUALITY. The story would require 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.
ORIGINALITY. We either have something very similar to the submitted piece or it is too similar to existing stories.
TIME/FUNDING LIMITATIONS. We receive over 100 submissions per week but only publish around 100 stories per year. Often, this results in us having to decline stories we genuinely enjoy simply because we can’t justify acquiring them.
Providing thoughtful feedback to each submission slows our overall response time considerably. We prefer to quickly respond to submissions using an automated system, rather than provide unsolicited commentary.
Some writers do not take criticism well, no matter how constructive or positive. We keep our opinions to ourselves unless we’re asked to share them.
Generally, if your story has been rejected repeatedly, that indicates the story and/or the style need improvement.
Before resubmitting your story here or elsewhere, we encourage you to put it before a group of experienced readers—not a group of friends. Seek genuine critique from people qualified to provide it. Get a diverse variety of opinions. Stories are subjective, but if you’re hearing the same complaint from several different people, take the hint and correct the issue.