What the Numbers Mean

When our reviewers rate stories, each category is assigned a score of zero to six. I realize this sounds like a strange range, but there is a reason for it. Over the years, I’ve learned that when confronted with the typical 1-5 or 1-10 rating scale, scores tend to hover at the extremes. 1-I don’t like it. 10-I like it. It leads to an oversimplified way of thinking that doesn’t help when trying to make publishing decisions.

The scoring scale is designed to break that simplified thinking. Each score has a very specific meaning.

A story needs to score an overall 4 or higher to be considered for publication.

Stories that score in the 3.5 to 3.9 range may also be considered if the score only dropped below 4 due to grammar issues. We may also take a deeper look at stories in this range and see if there are workable solutions we can request of the author. In such cases, we will invite the author to revise the story and resubmit.

0 ? Poor. Requires significant revision or reworking. We often see this when it is apparent the author sent us a first draft of a story that they had not bothered to review and edit before submitting. These stories also often suffer from egregious grammar and punctuation issues that make it difficult to follow the story, as well as overall structural issues that interfere with reading enjoyment.

1 ? Sub-par. Does not meet minimum expectations for the category. These stories often tend to be either too bloated or too skeletal, either containing too much pointless filler or too little meat to really grab onto the story.

2 ? Fair. Shows potential, but would require revision before being publishable. All the basics are there, but the author needs to address some fundamental issues before the story would be publishable.

3 ? Average. Demonstrates a basic understanding of the norms expected. Meets minimum expectations. There is nothing inherently wrong with these stories, they just don’t jump out at us as at the level we are looking for.

4 ? Good. Demonstrates a solid understanding of the norms expected. Shows a solid grasp of the necessary elements of the category. This is the range that we are looking for when we accept stories.

5 ? Excellent. Exceeds expectations. Demonstrates above average understanding of the norms of the category.

6 ? Exceptional. One of the best we have ever seen. Cannot imagine how it can be improved upon. I think in 20 years of publishing we’ve had two stories that scored a 6 from the reviewer. This is an exceptionally rare score even for a single category.