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Don't send what they don't want!

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Old 09-20-2006, 04:56 PM
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Default Don't send what they don't want!


What is one of the fastest way to get rejected? Sending the publication a work that is specifically what is described as the wrong type within the submission guidelines.

I love reading a good sci-fi/fantasy piece. But when the guidelines say no porn or erotica, and the first paragraph is almost triple X, that is just wrong. The guidelines even say PG-13, at the absolute strongest for content level. As the final decision maker of an upcoming magazine, I cannot believe some of the submissions that I have received. It makes me question, "Hmmmm, did they even read the guidelines, or did they intentionally send it in?"

I have read some alsome submissions, but a few would not even be allowed in Playboy, they were so graphic.

In other words, please read the guidelines and make sure what you are sending the publication falls within its limits.

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Old 09-25-2006, 02:48 AM
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So sad, so true.

I read a rant in another forum recently from an author criticising agents and the publishing industry in general because he was writing SF and the stupid agents he queried were only interested in non-fiction. His assertion, therefore, was that there was no longer a market for SF.

Duh. Simple research is all it takes. If you write SF, look for people who deal with sf.
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Old 09-28-2006, 12:23 PM
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It's the simple stuff that seems the most obvious that people sometimes miss. To be fair, those people are probably just submitting anywhere and everywhere in the hopes that someone will like it, regardless of the submission guidelines...
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Old 09-28-2006, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Kemp View Post
It's the simple stuff that seems the most obvious that people sometimes miss. To be fair, those people are probably just submitting anywhere and everywhere in the hopes that someone will like it, regardless of the submission guidelines...
It's the fast-track to rejection.
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Old 10-02-2006, 06:56 PM
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That's the biggest challenge for me, trying to find just the right market for the right piece. It takes time, but if you do your homework, the odds are slimmed down considerably. They say to read an issue of what they publish, and it finally sunk in that that's really what you need to do, take the time to get to know the publication before deciding whether or not to submit.
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Old 10-10-2006, 02:42 PM
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I think one of the quickest ways to publication - other than to write well, which should go without saying - is to research your markets well and *give them what they want* - don't bother sending what don't want!

Those guidelines - even the fuzzy ones - let you know what they do and don't want.
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Old 10-12-2006, 04:48 AM
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More on what's not wanted, from recent submissions to GUD Magazine:

Fancy fonts. Poets are the most guilty, thinking that a flowery font will compliment their flowery verse. Writers are not blame free either. Beware, a 10,000 word short in Americana font means instant rejection.

Titles - putting your title in 42 point text doesn't help - editors aren't blind.

Typos - not, in themselves, enough to get rejected (thats what we have copy-editors for) but 3 in the first sentence just means sloppy, sloppy, sloppy. Lowers a reader's expectations from the outset.

Poets again - don't get snotty about your formatting. It's the words that matter. If we like the words, we'll discuss formatting. Accompanying your poem with a 2 page diatribe on why your poem should be laid out as is just wastes everyone's time and makes you look like a prima donna.

Subject matter:

Poems about the changing of the seasons - please, try to bear in mind that every other poet on earth is writing the same, and it's pretty much all been said before. Especially the bits about scrunching through autumn leaves.

Stories about writers writing, coping with writers' block, or interacting with characters on the page - we've all written one. I've written one, and I bet you have too. So has everyone else, and reading ten more every day gets tiring.

Pacts with the devil - especially writers' pacts - see above. If you can put a new spin on it, by all means, give it a try, but having read 2, maybe 3 hundred of them, I have to say - it's all been done before.

Stories that rely on a twist to make them work. This is a personal hate, some love 'em, but I think they're lazy, kind of like Bobby Ewing emerging from a shower. It's a Victorian storytelling mode that should have died many years ago.

Of course, it's possible to trancend the subject matter, if your writing is good enough. If your prose sparkles, and you can find a new spin, even a wierdly formatted story about a poet making a deal with the devil to end his writers block, enabling him to write poems about autumn leaves will stand out. But it's a hell of a lot harder.
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Old 10-12-2006, 05:19 AM
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Good feedback, Mike. Thanks.
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Old 10-12-2006, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
More on what's not wanted, from recent submissions to GUD Magazine:

Stories that rely on a twist to make them work. This is a personal hate, some love 'em, but I think they're lazy, kind of like Bobby Ewing emerging from a shower. It's a Victorian storytelling mode that should have died many years ago.
I write short crime and science fiction - almost all of my stories end with a twist, although the twist ending is not the only thing makes them work.

If you're seeing this as somehow "Victorian" - both American writer O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) and British writer Saki (Hector Hugh Munro) perfected the short twist tale as a literary form, each writing during the Edwardian era (for Saki) and the early twentieth century (O. Henry.) Masters of the short form, they are both often compared not only to each other, but also to other short story masters like Dorothy Parker and Guy de Maupassant.

As for it being "lazy" - there is nothing easy about writing a good twist. A good one is both witty and macbre. "The Ransom of Red Chief" is not only a classic short story, but a study in humor, plot, characters and - yes - the twist ending.

The O. Henry Awards are given to outstanding short stories - recent winners were first published in venues like The New Yorker, Paris Review, Ploughshares and McSweeney's.

But in keeping with the thread here - give 'em what they want, not what they don't want - it's always a good idea to respect the editor's foibles and submit only what you think *that* editor will accept.
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Old 10-15-2006, 06:54 AM
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Good points, Kate. The idea is a basic one: if a writer is looking to submit a piece, then they must do a little research on the places they're submitting to before simply sending it in. People can be careless - which mystifies me, because they put so much effort into writing an article or story and then they send it to the wrong place. You'd figure they'd see it all the way through research-wise, but evidently this is a big problem. The issue might be with unpublished writers in that they may not be able to tell the difference between the many shades of genre out there. At times it's difficult for a writer to look at their work and then try to figure out which genre and/or subgenre it might fit into, then try to figure out who publishes work along that line. It's ony getting tougher with the number of magazines willing to publish work from new authors dwindling daily. Your stuff has to really stand out if you're going to get noticed in the first place, but it should at least be in the 'right' place for that to happen
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Old 10-17-2006, 01:47 AM
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O Henry and Saki are (were) masters of the twist, and done right, it works well. However, my point about it being 'victorian' is that it was a trick overused by victorian writers, in which era it became tired and clichéd. That Henry and Saki excelled is testament to their writing skills, not to the way their stories ended.

Chekov and De Maupassant, generally regarded as the fathers of the 'modern' short, did not rely on twists.

Some genres rely on a twist of sorts, particularly the supernatural and mystery genres, and I have no problem with them as such, but the twist seems to be overused by writers as a sloppy way to end a story - "I can't think how to end it, so I'll put a clever twist on the end!" - which generally isn't as clever as the writer thinks, and is often painful to read.

As with all the examples I cited, it's possible to transcend the slush pile if your writing shines, no matter what tricks and subject matter you employ, but it just makes it a little harder.
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Old 10-17-2006, 09:16 AM
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A bad twist would make me wince, Mike C - but so does any bad ending.
Bad writing is why I respect the "wince factor" editors must endure!
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Old 10-18-2006, 04:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Kate Thornton View Post
Bad writing is why I respect the "wince factor" editors must endure!
Wince factor? It's more like shell-shock after a while!

A bad ending is usually preceeded by a bad beginning and middle, so I often won't get that far, but a well-written story with a bad twist is just sad.
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