You Have Questions, I May Have Answers

This Week In Writing, we celebrate International Question Day by listening to Selena Gomez. What does that have in common? Keep reading!

You Have Questions, I May Have Answers
"a question mark factory" by Justin Cox and Midjourney

My favorite pop star turned chef once said, “tell me something I don’t know.” In the song, she asks, “how many inches in a mile [63,360] and what’s it take to make you smile [that’s a little more involved].” The point I’m going with here is that she asks questions. Ok, it’s a stretch, but work with me?

Anyway, today is International Ask A Question Day. Other than invoking Selena Gomez, I wanted to answer questions I’ve received about The Writing Cooperative, Mastodon, and more. Maybe your question is one of these? Let’s find out!

What Causes Stories To Be Rejected From Publication?

I started sharing weekly publishing rates on Mastodon and My Writing Community a few weeks ago. Saturday’s acceptance rate was 25% (15/60), last Saturday was 44% (24/55), and the week prior was 23% (14/63). I’m not sure why I started publishing these numbers, but I find them interesting, and it seems like some of you do, too.

When I review a submission, I first look for adherence to the publication’s style guide and rules. If these aren’t followed, I don’t typically waste my time. Yes, I can edit the post (and sometimes I do). But, with around 60 submissions to review, I don’t usually have time for it.

If the submission passes that initial screen, I lean into the quality over quantityapproach to publication. Submissions have to stand out and bring something new. These days, I’m far more interested in personal experience and unique takes than anything considered content.

The most common question I ask in notes left on rejections is, “why are you the person to bring this advice?” The reader should want to read your take based on your education, experience, or explanation. If you’re not the right person for the story, that’s ok. Bring me a story where you are the expert.

Over the weekend, I updated the submission rules to reflect these standards. Coincidentally, they align with Medium’s new standards for distribution and boosting. So, you know, take that as you will.

Should Writers Use AI Tools?

Last week I dove head-first into the AI content argument. The tl;dr is that I’m not inherently against AI tools — I use Midjourney to create my featured images. But, if writers use AI tools, they should be identified and cited — that’s part of the publication submission rules.

This week, Wired came out with a very clear explanation of how they use AI tools. It’s the first time I remember seeing a major publication create this type of document, and I applaud their transparency.

I can’t say that I won’t use AI generative text tools. If/when I do, I’ll be sure to identify it. I do run everything I write through Grammarly, which could be considered a similar tool. I, however, don’t put it in the same camp as ChatGPT or Jasper.

Are You Moving To The Medium Mastodon Instance?

Medium fully opened the doors to its private Mastodon instance, (it’s such a great URL!) this week. If you’re a Medium member, you can set up your account in a few seconds and fully join the fediverse.

I moved The Writing Cooperative’s Mastodon account there a few months ago when the option was made available. You can find that account at @[email protected].

I recently set up a personal Mastodon instance — check me out at @[email protected]. Because I’m quite fond of my URL, I’m likely not moving the account to Medium’s instance any time soon. However, thanks to the magic of the fediverse, that doesn’t matter, and accounts can talk to each other regardless of where they live.

What Do You Think Of The Mandalorian?

Bringing Bo-Katan to life and taking us to Mandalore? Yes, please!

What Are You Reading Right Now?

I’ve been reading a fundraising textbook for a few weeks. I’m working on continuing education, so that’s taken up most of my reading time. However, I just downloaded Silo by Hugh Howey. Someone on Mastodon recommended it, and AppleTV+ is turning it into a series. I’ll begin reading next weekend when I finish this textbook.

Is My Idea A Good One?

What a subjective question!

I often get this question from writers and nonprofit leaders, and it’s not one I can answer. Instead, I typically answer in the form of a question: “are you ready to pour everything you have into the idea?” If the answer is yes, then it’s a great idea. If the answer is no, then you might want to reevaluate.

What Other Questions Do You Have?

Did I answer your questions? If not, reply and ask away!

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!