Conrad Ricardo Rios recently wrote in to Authortunities to express his concern that “first readers are not taking care to thoroughly read a piece… volume overwhelmed. I know the avalanche you have to wade through might be daunting, but I feel some good work gets overlooked more often than not. I’d love something that addressed this issue… ‘getting past or romancing (if you will) first readers.’ YOU are the best!”

First, thank you Conrad for taking the time to write in. You bring up a good point that I wish I had a magic solution for, but I do have some insight. First readers (and publishers, editors and reviewers) all walk bravely into slush piles for because they love good writing. We are all always on the look out for good writing… and that’s what makes it difficult. We find good writing all the time. The problem I haven’t figured out how to fix is finding more pages.

We get a massive pile of excellent stories every time we open up submissions. The First Readers diligently move a large percentage of these up the chain. Then I have the hard task of saying no to about 100 stories I really want each issue. Conrad is partially right when he says “good work gets overlooked” but it’s not because the First Readers aren’t pushing it up. It simply comes down to many excellent stories and too few pages.

Thank you for taking the time to write in, Conrad. YOU are the best! I’ll probably write about this more in the near future.

Conrad Ricardo Rios is “a retired multi-media marketing consultant and content developer that is venturing into my passion for speculative fiction. I have yet to be published but I’m working hard toward that goal.”

This letter appears in
Authortunities #53│March 23—April 20 here.

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Ryukyuan-American, award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years in newspapers. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year, she shares Authortunities, a free weekly calendar of author opportunities at

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