With just over a week left to submit for the inaugural Online Writing Tips.Com short fiction prize, one of our judges, novelist and writing tutor D.D. Johnston, lets you in on some of his pet peeves.
Are you sending out short stories without as much success as you’d like? In an Online Writing Tips video debut, short story writer Philip Bowne offers some tips on submitting – from looking overseas to using Duotrope.
The thumbnail for this video uses a photo by Flood G. It’s covered by a Creative Commons License, and you can find more of her work here.
Many thanks to MD Commerford who has sent us an excerpt from his story, ‘Watching Bees’. We’ll leave this post live for a week, during which time we’ll welcome any constructive comments. At the end of the week, the author will receive a free critique from one of our writing tutors. (If you’d like to share your work for critique, please see here for all the necessary information.)
MD Commerford is a mature student who has spent the last six years studying for an English Literature degree with the Open University. Having caught the creative writing bug, he’s just started an MA in English with a focus on creative writing at the University of Hull. He has written several short stories under the name MD Wilder, contributed to various blogs, and entered several poetry and fiction competitions. He enjoys the craft of writing and is constantly looking for feedback that can help him improve. You can find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wilderwrites and he tweets at @thewilderwrites
Watching Bees is a 3000-word piece of fictionalised life writing aimed at adults. Here’s an extract – feedback welcome!
I am over my mother’s knee. So close I can smell her Opium even though my nose is clogged with snot. Tears are blurring the floral print of her summer dress. I am wailing my unintelligible apologies over and over into fabric. She is using a hard soled Scholl shoe. It is her favourite instrument to beat me with. Each clap exploding on each word as she repeated that: Children. Should. Honour. Their. Father. And. Mother
read full extract and feedback comments
We know what it’s like to get excited about submitting a short story in the hope that you’ll get a fast response. Weeks can go by, often months, with nothing.
But don’t panic. That’s what we’re here for. We’ve taken the time to create a list of 5 of the fastest responding literary magazines, so you can get your submission fix quicker than ever before!
All of these publications are part of Duotrope’s 25 fastest fiction markets.
The Eunoia Review are committed to publishing two new pieces of fiction every day. They aim to respond to all submissions within 24 hours.
See their full submission guidelines here.
This journal have a turnaround time of 3 days for all submissions. They welcome fiction, poetry and other literary submissions by new, emerging and established authors. They’re primarily looking for experimental, hybrid and avant-garde literature.
See their full guidelines here.
This is the literary journal of a small press ‘a…p’, based in Indianapolis. They’re open to any type of submission, and they aim to respond to submissions within a week.
See their full guidelines here.
Bop Dead City is an independent, quarterly literary magazine seeking new writers with a story to tell. They accept fiction, poetry and artwork. According to Duotrope, their average response time is 2 days.
See their full submission guidelines here.
Founded in 2014, One Throne is an online literary magazine published quarterly. Their goal is to showcase the foremost of all creative writing, worldwide, in a single magazine.
According to Duotrope, their average response time is 3 days.
So what are you waiting for? Get submitting! You won’t be waiting for long.
The image in this post is by Pedro Veneroso. It’s covered by a Creative Commons license and more of his work can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pfv/
Here’s an Online Writing Tips debut: these tips for submitting stories are brought to you by the newest member of our team, the very talented Philip Bowne. Phil’s short fiction has been published by The Lampeter Review, Sein und Werden,and Birkbeck University’s Writers’ Hub. His short story ‘Cows Can’t Jump’ was selected as one of ten winners of the Stroud Short Stories competition. In the US, he won the Bartleby Snopes short fiction competition, and his work has also appeared in WORK, Gravel, BlazeVOX, Atticus Review, and the Maple Tree Literary Supplement, in Canada. He has also worked as a travel writer, and his non-fiction has appeared in The Guardian. Phil’s tips will be just the thing if you’re thinking of entering the inaugural Online Writing Tips short fiction prize.
So you’ve polished a short story and you feel it’s ready to be published to the masses. Brilliant news! You may feel you are only an e-mail away from having your story in Granta, The New York Times, or The Paris Review… Sadly, it’s not quite that easy. Here are our top 5 tips for submitting to magazines and publications in short fiction markets.
1. You’re a reject
I don’t mean that in a horrible way. We’re all rejects. I’ve had hundreds of stories rejected, and only a handful published. At first, it hurts. After the tenth, twentieth, thirtieth rejection, you’ll get used to it. Even the household names will have been rejected hundreds of times.
Being able to accept rejection is an important trait to have as a writer, as you’ll spend most of your time being rejected… Sounds fun, right? What that does mean, is that when you do get an acceptance letter (which you will!) it feels incredible!
So don’t lose hope! Here at Online Writing Tips, we remember the words of Gordon Lish whenever we question our cause:
‘I see the notion of talent as quite irrelevant. I see instead perseverance, application, industry, assiduity, will, will, will, desire, desire, desire.’
2. Follow Standard Manuscript Formatting
This is a must. Editors receive hundreds of stories that they must whittle down to only a handful. Not following the correct formatting guidelines will give them a reason to throw your work into the slush pile before they’ve even read it! We will provide a tutorial on SMF so you’ll never trip up on your formatting again.
3. Keep cover letters short and informative – but try to catch the editor’s attention.
In my experience, a cover letter that briefly introduces the author, the story and its themes will make for a good cover letter – particularly if you can hook the judge or editor with a snappy description of the story that makes them want to read it. Every editor/judge is different though, and so any advice we offer will not apply for every magazine or journal! A polite tone that shows you appreciate them taking the time to read your work will always set you up in the right way.
4. Use Submittable!
Submittable is a great platform for submitting. It allows you to monitor the progress of your submissions, and stores your biography, e-mail and story titles all on your profile. Duotrope is another very useful resource, but different in that it is a database of all the markets you can submit to. It’s great for finding out the fastest responding markets (so you don’t have to wait a year for a decision) or highest paying markets (so you can dream of the big money prizes…)
5. Don’t assume you’re limited to your national market.
The best thing I ever did when submitting to short fiction markets was look outside of the UK. In America and Canada there are hundreds more markets than we have here in the UK, so your chances of publication are much greater. It also looks great to have a record of publishing outside of your own country. Again, Duotrope is one of the best places to seek out these international markets. It’s not a free service, but if you have a few stories to submit, it’s well worth the subscription fee.
If you’re reading this and thinking of submitting a short story, look no further than Online Writing Tips!
The Short Fiction Prize is OPEN and the deadline is February 1st 2016. The talented winner will take home £150 PLUS publication here on the website. Get submitting!