Submission Lessons

Well, it’s been a bit of a stop-start month, after pledging to get straight into the swing of 2019! But now, after a fantastic birthday weekend away watching Britain’s Strongest Man live, I can happily report that I am back in the writing game.

I’ve spent this week getting my short horror stories organised and finding potential publishers for those that don’t have homes at the moment. I found a helpful list here: https://publishedtodeath.blogspot.com/2018/05/mega-list-of-paying-markets-for-horror.html , that tells you all of the current magazine calls for horror/speculative fiction. Little warning – they’re not all 100% up to date. That’s no comment on the website – it is excellent, and it would be impossible to keep up with all of the sites they showcase! But just be aware that some of the publications are no longer seeking unsolicited submissions, and some of the windows have closed. But it gave me a great starting point. First of all I made a list of my stories and word-counts, making it easier to match them to suitable magazines.

Does anyone else find the term ‘speculative fiction’ a little unnerving? Definitions vary, as do preferences from the editors themselves. I’m sure some of my stories would fit the bill, but the idea of avoiding realism is a strange one. I am never quite sure to what degree they are referring to. This is something I am definitely going to explore further this year! Anyway, that aside, I learned an interesting tip that I had never noticed before. I was making a submission to Red Sun magazine, and noted the often-seen request to anonymise the story. However, Red Sun didn’t just request that the actual story document be made anonymous. They specified the need to right-click on the file, enter the document properties, and delete your name from the creator and PC owner data. I had never actively recognised the need to go to such depths for anonymisation before, and now I’m wondering if this is something I should have done on previous submissions that came to naught. But, live and learn! From now on, I will be taking that extra step when publications ask for the story to be anonymised, just in case.

I am cautiously optimistic about one of the stories that I sent. I originally wrote it for the San Cicaro submission call, and received a fantastic response back from the editor. He disclosed that they considered the story until the eleventh hour, but ultimately refused it because the anthology is due to come out the week that the second part of the new IT movies comes out. Now, I just want to make it clear, there are no killer clowns in the story! But it is about a group of kids going on an adventure to try and discover the origin of strange events occurring in their hometown. I respected their decision, and am grateful for them taking the time to give such strong feedback. If they hadn’t, I may have shelved the story as ‘rubbish – unpublishable’, which I realised I had been doing when a story had been rejected by publications in the past. It taught me that this reaction is crazy – the story may not suit one editor for one reason or another, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good story. I looked a little further into this and found a comment from a writer who stated that it takes an average of ten submission attempts before a story is snapped up. Ten! So, never give up on your story. Keep submitting with a positive attitude. You never know the reasons that may have caused the editors to turn it down (after all – I would never have thought the local cinema listings would have had an impact before that rejection!)

Oh, one last tip – some of the magazine websites I viewed had a submission page that did not state they were closed for submissions. It was only after painstakingly formatting the work to their specs that I went to another area to submit and discovered that the submission window had passed. So, before amending your story formatting to fit a specific request, always check both the home page, submission page, and contact area to make sure they are ready for your work!   

Happy submissions, everyone!

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