It’s that time again! Poetry and prose submissions open until January 2, 2021. Once again we will be using Duotrope‘s submissions manager (Duosuma) for fiction so you can keep up on your submission’s status from your Duotrope account.
It’s PoetryNook Monday! It’s been pointed out to me that PoetryNook no longer pays cash prizes but I still plan on trying to submit a new poem each week. It’s a low-stress way to build my inventory and try out new ideas.
Keeping it short this week, as I’m up to my eyeballs in magazine layout for issue #138. This one was inspired by a recent question about my favorite monster and why.
Here’s the poetic answer…
Your brimstone voice, your low growl
has stolen my heart.
Clever little hands—
perfect to hold chicken necks
and cling to goat backs.
Wrinkled, hairless skin
means no shedding on my floor
or hair in my bed…
Enter PoetryNook.com’s free weekly poetry contest.
Previously published work welcome.
I’ve talked about PoetryNook.com a few times on here. It’s a weekly poetry contest that’s free to enter but pays cash prizes. Even better, they nominate six poems a year for the coveted Pushcart Prize. You can enter previously published work as well.
Seem too good to be true? This is no joke—I’ve submitted 38 weeks in a row, received two firsts ($50), two honorable mentions ($25) and a Pushcart nomination. I have a reminder set in my Google calendar to submit something every Monday… and I’ve decided to share that reminder here.
Time for an accounting of last year’s submissions!
Prior to 2019 I don’t think I’d ever submitted to much of anywhere. Because I started off self publishing from the beginning (and newspapers) I never explored that part of writing… the inevitable slush pile and rejection letters.
I lucked out because one of the first things I submitted awhile back was my short story “Vanilla Rice” to the Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy back in 2016. It was accepted and I started writing Bitter Suites based on that world so I didn’t submit anything else until 2019.
In late 2018 I realized I was creating a stagnant bubble for myself. I had a tiny pool of fans that responded well to my self published work, but it was the same people over and over. I was absolutely grateful for this, but I was mummifying my career and sealing it in a tomb before it got to live a little. So my New Year’s goal last year was to hit the slush piles and see if I couldn’t spread some ink.
So how did I do? I’m happy with the results. Despite running into some issues in the last quarter of the year that had me treading water just stay afloat, I managed to submit 92 short stories or poems. I had 74 items accepted, 18 of which I received payment for. One submission is still outstanding with no decision made on it yet.
My goal was to find new readers, and that has definitely been accomplished. My circle of readers has at least tripled. Here’s what I learned about submitting work this last year:
Proper formatting is a must. Most publishers want to see your work submitted in Shunn Manuscript format. Many will delete your work, unread, if it’s not submitted properly. (Read more: Do NOT Sun Shunn).
Careful record keeping is important. I kept a spreadsheet where I pasted all the information for each submission, including a link where I could check back for updates. I had another folder where I dropped links I wanted to submit to, organized by date due. At a glance I could see how long something has been in limbo, if payment was received, and when/where it was published.
Rejections are not reflections of me or my work. As long as I have turned in a well written, properly edited and formatted piece—my best work—I have nothing to be ashamed of. A rejection happens for a number of reasons… too many similar pieces, bigger names submitting, the publication (common) simply ran out of room. Often there are 12 open slots, and 500+ submissions. (Read Rejections are Not Reflections)
Submit some work for free. I often hear writers urge each other not to give work away for free. I agree that we all deserved to be compensated based on the quality of our work, but compensation is not always monetary. Publicity, promotion, advertising… these things have more value than actual payment sometimes. Considering that a full page ad in a popular publication can run from $100-500, I am quite happy to contribute a free little story or poem in exchange for the publicity. Giving free work is like giving away a sample and works great for finding new readers. Plus, there is nothing like your name in print to boost your morale, paid or unpaid.
Keep up on your social media. I have fallen short on this in the latter half of 2019, but I’m getting back into the swing of it. Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Alan Ritchson* at an interview. He opened my eyes to the value of social media. He said, anymore, a bigger social media following is the deciding factor to get an acting job, and I apply it to writing as well. Agents, directors and the like will check social media accounts for how much influence a person has. He or she with the most likes wins.
Is it fair? It doesn’t matter. It’s a fact. Take care to build and protect your social media… and use it. I neglected to announce a few publications that accepted me towards the crazy part of the year. Not only did I do myself a disservice, I did one to them as well.
While I would love to think my words fall from my lips like golden dew drops, I know a large part of my success goes to boring details like the ability to follow guidelines, keep records and give things away sometimes. Being a pleasant person to work with (even when I don’t want to be) is another important factor.
My goal for this year is much the same. More submissions, I’d like more to be paid submissions and I’d like to get a book or two published as well. To this end, I already have some nice, mundane files set up in my Google Drive and a fresh now spreadsheet waiting for some orderly, yawn worthy record keeping.
Be settled in your life and as ordinary as the bourgeois, in order to be fierce and original in your works, to quote Gustave Flaubert. Here’s to more successful submissions for us all in 2020.
*Alan Michael Ritchson (born November 28, 1984) is an American actor, model, and singer. He is known for his modeling career as well as his portrayals of the superhero Aquaman on The CW‘s Smallville and Thad Castle on Spike TV‘s Blue Mountain State. Ritchson also starred as Gloss in 2013’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Raphael in 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, and its sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, and Adam in 2016’s Lazer Team. Since 2018, he has portrayed Hank Hall / Hawk on the series Titans.
There will be an additional editor coming to Space and Time magazine—Luiz Peters will be coming to the team to curate submissions in original Spanish, Portuguese, French and Italian. He will then translate the accepted poem or prose to English.
Submissions for issue #136 (Spring) will open up December 19 and for the first time in S&T history we will be accepting work in foreign languages. Luiz will have a separate tab for foreign language submissions and will be a fourth editor to the already fantastic team of Poetry Editor Linda D. Addison, Fiction Editor Gerard Houarner and Art Editor Diane Weinstein.
As a welcome and introduction, Luiz has been added to the poetry line up of the next issue of S&T to be available December 21. His poem, Reticence | Reticências, will be presented in English and his native language of Portuguese. I’m excited for this addition to S&T which will open the magazine to a new pantheon of writers.
About Luiz Peters, Foreign Submissions Editor:
Luiz Peters has been translating and editing for websites, universities, customer support services and the like for over four years. Currently he works as an editor and translator for a major UK corporation when he is not reading and writing speculative fiction and poetry. Always fascinated by stories, Luiz began writing to escape a dark time in his life. He found that by writing better futures for his characters he helped improve his own.
He believes in sharing that freedom with others as the Foreign Submissions Editor at Space and Time. By building bridges of words, he hopes to connect our fragmented stories into one global narrative we share. Thanks to Luiz as an addition to the team, we can now accept poetry and fiction submissions in five languages: Spanish, English, Portuguese, French and Italian.
Our last Exquisite Corpse had a record breaking 20 submissions… and then life pushed the poor thing off the rails. I’ve searched the ditches and found our friend. He’s been dusted off, had a few bits sewn back on and he says he’s ready to come back to play.
We last saw our corpse back in July with the community built poem titled “Revolting.” You can see that poem here. The next prompt given was “heat” and then our corpse went AWOL. Lucky for us, there were enough lines already submitted to finish the poem when he was found.
This poem came together easily, but it was Stephanie Ellis’ line that really pulled the whole thing together and gave it some dark humor. This is definitely a poem older women can relate to—I think our corpse may have a grandma or two stitched in there somewhere.
Now that our corpse is back to work, we are ready for new lines to be submitted. Just submit through the form at the bottom of the exquisite corpse page here. The newest community poem, “In Flammation,” will be posted there as well very soon.
The new prompt for November is kinship. I’ll accept your line of poetry from now until Thanksgiving, Nov. 28. Exquisite Corpse will be posted on November 30.
FYI: What is an Exquisite Corpse?
An exquisite corpse poem is created by different people giving a line unrelated to the previous line. A poem is built from many authors, following the same rule or theme. In this case, there are no rules but it is a line, so no paragraphs please. You can read more about them here.
Remember our exquisite corpse from last month? You can find him at Exquisite Corpse | Space and Time Magazine. I’m getting ready to put together August’s corpse and we have room for a few more lines. The theme is revolution, so I look forward to a revolting corpse. I’ll post the finished corpse next Saturday, August 10.
I’ll accept lines until August 7. Please note: the way to submit has changed. Please submit everything through this form. That helps me keep it organized. And again, the theme is revolution.
Thank you to everyone who participated last month. There will be a prize again. Winner is drawn at random and has nothing to do with the work submitted.
The winner for last month—which I forgot to post—was Marge Simon. Congratulations Marge! Her goodies were sent off before I remembered to take a photo. This month, let’s do another Edgar Allan Poe grave dirt necklace as a prize. It makes a great lucky charm for dark writers.
What’s an Exquisite Corpse?
An exquisite corpse poem is created by different people giving a line unrelated to the previous line. A poem is built from many authors, often following the same rule or theme. In this case, there are no rules but there is a theme. Also, it is a line, so no paragraphs please. You can read more about them here.
Last month I promised I to post my writing productivity on the last Monday of the month. I invite anyone who is looking for some accountability to share their own progress in the comments. Doing this has been a big boost.
Knowing I had this ‘deadline’ spurred me on and I had a stellar month for submissions and writing. I wrote five new short stories for specific requests, streamlined my entire submission process, set myself up a proper Shunn template to copypasta and actively added new projects to my submissions folder. Because I got myself organized, I’ve been able to share submissions with other authors and share the love.
I started this at the end of June, so I rushed and submitted older work to markets I wasn’t familiar with. Most of it was rejected. By July I was writing for specific calls and my acceptances went up. Most of the subs are still being considered, so they’ll affect future month stats. I should also mention that I moved from free markets to paying markets in June. That reflects in my rejection/acceptance ratio. It’s a lot easier to get a yes for free work.
All in all, this is working for me—
01/2019 | 5 submissions | 5 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
02/2019 | 0 submissions | 0 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
03/2019 | 2 submissions | 2 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
04/2019 | 0 submissions | 0 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
05/2019 | 1 submissions | 1 acceptances | 0 rejection | 0 under consideration
06/2019 | 10 submissions | 0 acceptances | 6 rejections | 4 under consideration
07/2019 | 10 submissions | 3 acceptances | 1 rejection | 6 under consideration
Total | 28 submissions | 11 acceptances | 7 rejections | 10 under consideration
Notes | My poem, “Love Like Starlight,” won Honorable Mention in the 242nd Weekly PoetryNook.com Contest. The prize was $20.
I also finished my Camp Nanowrimo goal of 50,000 words in a month. I finished today with a word count of 51,233. Originally I was just going to work on my Bitter Suites sequel, but I realized early on that was going to frustrate me.
I changed my goal to be total word count rather than a project word count. I didn’t count emails. That would have probably brought me to around 100,000 words.
So, good month. I feel like holding myself accountable has made a huge difference and I’ll continue doing this. Anyone who wants to benefit the same way can post their productivity stats in the comments each month.
Previous posts like this…
Last week I talked about rejection, and why it’s not always a reflection of your work. This week I break down tip #2: “Stand out by looking pro.” Read last week’s post here.
I’ve been writing professionally for many years, but I never heard of William Shunn’s proper manuscript format until February 2018. It was at Borderland’s Writers Boot Camp. Many of us submitted our assignments in the same format this post is written in: no indents, single space except between paragraphs.
We were introduced to Shunn, and strongly encouraged to never submit any other way. Ever. At the time I thought it was silly and old school. The internet and Google Docs use this ‘blog’ format as a standard. Why bother with indents and double spaces?
But… I did it. I learned to set my documents up this way and saw my submission acceptances improve. If it helps my work get out, I’m willing to go “silly and old school.” Now that I’m publishing a magazine, I have a whole new perspective on why Shunn is so important.
There is a sample manuscript at the bottom of the page. You’ll notice it has the author’s name, their address, word count, email, title, byline and some other vital info. While it seems like overkill, the editor and/or publisher will appreciate seeing all of it here.
Here’s the information I look for, and why:
First is word count. When I pick up a story, my eye looks for the word count first. Why? Because as a paying publication, word count means money. If I see “about 15,000 words” in your manuscript’s upper right, I’ll pause right there and save us both some time. It’s harder to find room and the budget for larger pieces. I have a big pile of stories to read. I have to be honest for both our sake.
I also need word count because I have a loose tally in my head of what I have room for. I know how much I can fit in Space and Time. As I read, I have an idea of that space filling up. If I look up to your manuscript’s upper right and don’t see a word count, I’m annoyed at you.
I can’t just read your story. I have to select all and word count it. Then, as I read I have to remember what that word count was. If I love the story, now I have to go back and select all and word count again, because if your story has wowed me I certainly don’t remember a number I read 10 minutes ago. If I love your story, I’m annoyed at you. If I didn’t love it… Do us both a favor, and just put your word count up top.
Second is your contact info. Not everyone prefers PayPal. If you request to be paid by paper check via snail mail it’s awesome on my end not to have to search your address up in a long chain of emails. I love efficiency. I love to save time without cutting corners. Help me do this by putting your address and email in the upper left.
If I need to pay you I can just go to your manuscript and get the address from that. I can verify that I’m paying the right person for the right work because it’s there on the manuscript. If I need to follow-up by email, I can search a long chain of emails… or look in the upper left of your manuscript.
Do you write under a pen name? I will have that information on your manuscript. Your given name will be in the upper left with all your contact information, but your byline under the title will be the name you publish under. Again, that saves me a search through a long chain of emails. Of course the story needs to be polished and original with a compelling start, but if I look and see all the information I need I already like your story a lot.
Please make use of headers with Name / Title / page number. Do you know what happens when I’m printing and the papers scatter on the floor? Just some mild grumbling unless I find stories with no Name / Title / page numbers. If that happens, I have to throw the stack away and reprint any pages I can’t identify. Do you really want your story to be the John Doe headed for the trash? What if I forget to reprint, run out of ink/paper, get sucked up by a tornado… make it easy and identify your pages in the header.
And if you’re wondering, yes. I have let a few stories go because they weren’t formatted like this. It’s not to be a snob, which is exactly what I thought the whole Shunn hoopla was about in the beginning. It’s about making things easy on the editor who has a stack of 20 stories to sift through… with room for five.
Water will flow down the easiest path, and so does paper. Don’t shun the Shunn and make it easy to say yes to your next submission… which for Space and Time will should be around September 21.
Here is an example of a well formatted submission. Learn all about proper, professional formats for all kinds of writing on Proper Manuscript Format Shunn. Actually read the sample, it’s full of great information.
Look what came to Space and Time magazine’s mailbox—Sleepwalker by Mikel J. Wisler. S&T now welcomes readers to send in books and related items to be shared on S&T’s social media and (if we have time) review. Details at the end.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy Sleepwalker when it showed up in S&T‘s mailbox, but that mindset changed from a few pages in. Thrillers are not my go-to genre generally, but Wisler managed to catch my attention and hold it through the entire book.
I do enjoy some violence, chaos and destruction in my light reading and the back cover sounded a bit tame for me. About a science teaching nun in Brazil who gets caught up in a convoluted intrigue of false identity and political conspiracy, I expected to read a few pages in and lose interest. The opposite was true. It probably helps a lot that the first word of the prologue is blood.
The plot was well-developed with plenty of action to keep me engaged. I liked how Wisler portrays the not-too-distant future. He gives just enough innovation to bring the reader to another time without bogging us down with technology. I liked the romance triangle he develops.
The story went beyond being simple entertainment for me by bringing up some ethical questions by introducing some different scientific and spiritual concepts. Throw in some philosophy and politics, and there is fuel for some existential blues.
Because S&T was sent an uncorrected ARC, I wasn’t paying attention to any typos and errors, but there were few. I do want to compliment the interior formatting. I loved the chapter heading art and the vertical title/author on every page. It was different without being a distraction. I’d recommend Sleepwalker to readers who enjoy some gritty science and tech in their thrillers. Thanks to Mikel J. Wisler for sending Sleepwalkers. I liked it.
Mikel J. Wisler is a writer and award-winning filmmaker behind several short films, including “Stop,” “Parallel,” and “Playing with Ice.” He co-founded of Stories by the River, a non-profit film production company focused on creating stories that examine the human condition.
Where to go from here:
Send books and other items to the address below. I’ll be glad to share on S&T’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. If I have time, I’ll review and post on this blog to be shared on my social media in addition to Space and Time‘s. Reviews are not guaranteed.
All mail can be received at:
Space and Time Magazine
P.O. Box 214