Mercy on my soul…Magazines and Contests
So I submitted a short story to Asimov’s Science Fiction. It is a character-based tale that takes place in a science fiction universe rife with politics and intrigue. I’ve been looking more and more into magazine and contest submissions, first to see if they think I’m good enough, second to try and add more legitimacy to my writing cv. The following is just a few of my advisory musings on the subject.
They’re out there, all over the place. From indie startups to well-established. If you have a short story that you want people to read, I think it’s a great way to go. But it is work.
Make sure you find their submission rules and FOLLOW THEM. Yes, they will ding you for spacing and margins and whether you use tab or auto-indent in your manuscript. Your words are super-awesome and amazing and crafted with loving care, but they won’t read them if you can’t follow simple instructions. They ask for them in certain formats for a reason. Well, lots of reasons, actually. If you can’t follow directions they likely don’t want to work with you.
You love your words, don’t get them binned because you are too much of a hot-shot to do a simple reformat.
Adult content is one that’s a bit of a sticky wicket. Some places have their ratings clearly outlined, some don’t. If yours are borderline racy or they just have no mention of it, submit it. Or find their Twitter and ask them there. But if you don’t submit you definitely know the outcome. But if they DO have their adult limitations clearly outlined, pay attention. If it clearly says no erotica, don’t send them your literarily perfect 50 Shades. They don’t want it.
Use your brain. If it’s a speculative science fiction blog don’t send them your sword n’ sorcery short epic.
Learn the art of synopses. Writing a synopsis SUCKS. It SUCKS. It absolutely SUCKS. It is a bane of any author’s existence.
But it has to be done. You need to know how to encapsulate your work in the format they are asking for. Whether submitting shorts or 100,000 word novels, you will need to know how to write a slam-bang, but accurate synopsis. I’ve found the following links INSANELY useful, hopefully you will too.
Cover letters are not really optional. If you are planning to submit to someone you have a brief or no working relationship with, and it says that a cover letter is optional, absolutely submit one. It shows that you are a professional and that you realize their time is valuable. It also gives you a great place to sell yourself and your work. Google has TONS of links on how to write a great cover letter for a fiction submission. I haven’t really found one that’s better than the rest so I’ll just leave it to your Google-Fu.
Which segues into the next bit and that’s DO YOUR RESEARCH. Figure out what, exactly, the entity you’re submitting to is known for, what they do, what they publish. Peruse back issues, current issues, whatever you can get if you aren’t a subscribed member and have your own copies. Look at their social media. Figure out who they are and what they want and tailor your cover letter for each submission to each publisher.
You are looking for a job. Just like that miserable trudge you have to do your due diligence. A lot of these folks talk to each other. Even if you don’t get accepted to this publisher but you submit to that one, they may have heard of you. You want to be noticed in a good way, and not as “that jackhole who can’t even double space and sent in a three-page rant when we rejected them”. Be professional. Be courteous. Be polite. Don’t let your beautiful words suffer because you don’t want to do the needed.
In a few weeks we’ll find out if I’m just talking the talk, I suppose…A bit terrified, actually.
Image Copyright Asimov’s Science Fiction 2018