Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

Anthology Philly ImageHello fellow Philadelphians! WragsInk is preparing the next anthology in our Anthology, Philly series, and it could include a story from YOU!

If you live in the Philadelphia area (including nearby New Jersey and Delaware) we are looking for submissions to the next anthology. It will include everything from poetry to short stories to flash fiction. Do you want to be a part of it? Then you have to SUBMIT.

Send your best work to phillyfictioncontest[at]gmail[dot]com. The submissions will be open until filled, so it’s best you get us your work now. For more information on what we look for, feel free to order volume one and check it out.

Please only send us 3-5 poems or 1-2 short stories. We don’t want to be overwhelmed!

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Love poetry? Love Philly? Well then here is your chance as WragsInk has put out the long anticipated Anthology Philly, Poetry Edition. Editor Dennis Finocchiaro collects the finest of new poets from the Philadelphia area and publishes them into a nice little book with an amazing cover by Colleen McCarthy. Poets include L. Haber, Veronica Bowlan, Calvin Reed and many, many more!

It’s available on Amazon and, if you’re in the area, one of the following events:

Saturday, August 25th, Infusion 4pm
7133 Germantown Ave, Phila 19119

Friday, September 7th, 1518 Bar & Grill 6pm
1518 Sansom Str, Phila 19102

Saturday, September 15th Coffee Beanery 4pm
100 West State St, Media 19063

Thursday, September 20th Bindlestiffs 6pm
45th and Baltimore, Phila 19143

Saturday, September 22nd Princeton University 4pm
**Details to come**

Tuesday, September 25th Mermaid Inn 7.30pm
7673 Germantown Ave, Phila Pa

Saturday, September 29th Mugshots Fairmount 4pm
1925 Fairmount Ave, Phila 19130

Saturday, October 6th Coffee Beanery 4pm
100 West State St, Media 19063

Saturday, October 27th Infusion 2pm
7133 Germantown Ave, Phila 19119

Saturday, November 17th Mugshots Fairmount 4pm
1925 Fairmount Ave, Phila 19130

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Kurt Vonnegut is one of my favorite writers. When I finished the last of his books, I never really got over his passing. He was a treasure and inspiration to me as a writer.

Here are a few tips he gave for writing a short story. Enjoy!


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Records and bicycles

have made a comeback,

so why shouldn’t


By Dennis Finocchiaro


Imagine Bukowski hunched over a manuscript-in-progress with his bottle of wine, likely with a window view of a seedy bar across the street for inspiration. He watches the faces of patrons going in steadily and coming out less-so and types away on his typewriter.

Think of Kerouac clicking away at the keys, thinking carefully about every word and comma, working out the full sentences in his head before capturing them on paper so as to avoid typos, mistakes and having to redo a whole page.  The noise of his friends in the other room, fighting over nothing or perhaps just drinking heavily, waiting for him to go out on a short road trip.

Times sure have changed. I’ve probably gone back seven or eight times to change typos, diction or other small items in this article, but back then things were different. The sights, sounds and environment of writers were drastically different than they are today. Typing on a computer is nothing compared to the feel of a typewriter. Yes, I admit it, I am a lover of typewriters.

The cold of the keys keeps your fingers awake and alive, the clacking of the typebars smacking the ribbon, immortalizing a word that cannot be taken back (see image below for a description of typewriter parts). The sound of the platen moving to the left a character at a time until that lovable, familiar ding of the bell. There was something so definite and lasting about working on such a machine. There is no backspace, there is no delete, there is only forever.

I, for one, can’t imagine what it was like to type school essays on an old Brother Charger. The invention of whiteout must have been a godsend for those people. Think about it, one little mistake and it was either white out the spot and let it dry or rip the paper off the platen (causing a rapid clicking sound) and start over.

But these days, especially lately, the world has seen a mild resurgence of the old fashioned typewriter. A little CBS news piece substantiated that last week with a five-minute report on typewriters and their growing popularity. I, myself have been using two particular typewriters for a while now, mostly in my work on Capturing a Moment, a collection of flash fiction I type directly on vintage photographs. For a book signing I brought my trusty Brother Charger 11 and let people play with it, and they loved it. Kids asked what it was, and parents or grandparents gladly demonstrated how the old machine worked. And every one of them smiled when they heard the familiar snap of the letters appearing on the paper.

Philadelphia even recently had a type-in, much like a sit-in, except nobody was demonstrating against something; they came together with a similar love of the old machines and a large number of people sat and typed. Michael McGettigan, founder of the Philadelphia type-in, said, “Your thought goes directly onto the page without a lot of intermediaries, and it produces an artifact in a time when so much of life has become so virtual…” That explains, to a certain extent, why typewriters have started a comeback.

McGettigan also points out that typewriters help with focus. “It will not let you play a video game or go look for bargains on Ebay…so if you’re sitting at a typewriter, you’re either going to write or fall asleep.”

He goes on to discuss the fact that the MP3 hasn’t pushed away the vinyl record, something to which I can attest. I started collecting records about fifteen years ago when I realized how much music was at my fingertips when I yard saled. At the time, records went for a quarter. But these days, hit a record shop or even the Punk Rock Flea Market and it’s clear that records are not a thing of the past. And that’s what typewriters are slowly becoming today.

So why not try it? Go to a thrift shop, start yard saling, see what you think. Spool some paper, hit a few keys, get a feel for it. Who knows, you could become a part of the ever-growing revolution of the typewriter. You could be the next Kerouac.


Dennis Finocchiaro is the author of Capturing a Moment and editor of the upcoming Anthology Philly. Images also by Dennis Finocchiaro.

Image taken from Xavier.edu.


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By Lyndsaye Ruda

Every writer has means for inspiration that leads to their bestsellers. J.R.R. Tolkien was influenced by Norse Mythology. I can’t really blame him; it’s a very interesting subject. And if you read anything by Robert A. Heinlein you’ll notice a feline theme sprung from an obvious love for cats. I can’t really blame him either. On the subject of cats, let me tell you a little bit about where I get some of my inspiration.

 I am a big fan of BBC, especially a show called Big Cat Diary hosted by Jonathan Scott and Simon King. The show takes place in the Masai Mara in Kenya and features a group of lions, cheetahs and leopards. When I was first introduced to this show I didn’t know much about cheetahs and I have since learned a lot. I have fallen in love with these creatures, so much so that I have become a member of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. They are an amazing organization and if you don’t know anything about them I suggest you look into it. But that’s also why I’m here. I take the stories of cheetahs and the reality of the hardship that is their existence: the fact that their survival rate is so low they have roughly 9 cubs per litter so that the chances of even one of them surviving is better, yet many cheetah mums that live to be 9 years old may only raise 2-4 cubs in their lifetimes; the fact that lions, leopards and hyenas kill these creatures as easily as you can snap a twig; and the fact that despite being the fastest animal in the world, these creatures lose 90% of their food between being unable to catch them, or other predators stealing the kills. And you thought cheetahs were ferocious man killers didn’t you? Truth is, they’re less hearty than an ant who can be crushed beneath your foot and you still wonder how you didn’t injure it.

So my inspirations come from these types of stories. I write about fact in ways that I hope will save someone or something from pain. I am in the process of creating children’s stories about cheetahs so that they grow up learning the truth about these beautiful, helpless animals. I also write about pet grief. I have been through the trauma of losing furbabies and it’s not easy. I have been lucky enough to learn from these experiences and want to share my knowledge to help others who may be going through the same heartbreak.

But my writing collection is larger than that. The poetry that I write is easier to explain as most of them speak for themselves. I can find ways to create more impact and lead into surprise endings in short stories written through poems. It gives me an opportunity to write about things that I am unable to put into a full story.

I also write romantic fiction. I’m not talking about Harlequin kinds of stories (well, not full stories anyway *laugh*), but the kind that evoke a more sentimental attachment. Currently I am working on a novel called Language Beyond Words. This story is about an American who travels to Australia and falls in love with a man she meets down there. But his ways are mysterious (aren’t these stories always like that?) and she learns a different kind of life. When something tragic back home in America happens she has to make some hard decisions about her future. I started this story over 7 years ago and it really began as a challenge to learn a new culture and write about something a little more emotional.

I also like tragedy, so it was a good chance to work on writing something that drew the reader out. To be honest, what started the story was running into a friend that I hadn’t seen for some time because he had been in Australia for a few months. When he came back it was so good to see him and he looked so different. He instantly inspired the main character in the story as well as the experience he had just returned home from. The rest of it came from sitting down and writing. Most of my work is really that simple.

I sit down, and I write. I love the feeling of pencil, or pen, on paper. I’m not as big a fan of typing stories out from scratch, I usually have to write them out first, and transfer them later onto the computer. I’ve been writing for so long and most of the stories I write don’t start off with a plan, just a desire to write. I have more story ideas than I have written, and ideas for future creations. I’m lucky to have gotten this far, and the fact that there are people out there that actually want to read what I have to write makes me feel even more blessed.

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The Greatest Love

Story Ever Told

(in My Opinion)

by Dennis Finocchiaro

Love stories come and go. Most anyone can say they cried reading The Notebook. And let’s face it, The Princess Bride is probably the actual greatest love story ever told, or we can at least agree to disagree. But whenever I think of true love, I think of a small segment of my favorite book of all time, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Of course, these days, everyone has heard of the book because it’s now a movie, or they’re just finding out the movie is based on a book as they read these words. Surprise! (This surprise is only for the misinformed, and I doubt that includes people who end up on this blog). But no, while this book is about the love between a mother and son and in no way romantic, a story within the story is the absolute purest form of love ever created.

I am writing about, of course, the fairy tale Oscar’s dad tells him, of The Sixth Borough.

In this tale, there was once a sixth borough of New York, an island that nobody remembers. Every year they had a big party, the climax being when a man famous for jumping would jump the small amount of water between NYC and this sixth borough. Once year, he finds he can’t make it across. And the next, he jumps and lands in deeper water. At first, the people think the logical: the jumped is getting old. But he insists he has not lost any of his jump (haha) and so they measure the distance only to find that the island is moving away from New York City.

And, of course, this doesn’t sound romantic at all, does it? The story continues past this celebration to two children, a boy and a girl, who are in love. The boy lives in the sixth borough and the girl across the small amount of water. They chat through cups on a string, which of course is absolutely adorable in and of itself. But as the island escapes the mainland, they have to keep adding to the line.

The string from his yo-yo.

The pull from her talking baby doll.

The list goes on. The two kids slowly destroy everything they love just so that they continue talking until, one day, they realize it’s going to end. The boy asks the girl to say “I love you” into her can and captures the words on his end, sealing the cup and placing it on a shelf so that, to this day, as the sixth borough has ended up in Antartica, “On a frozen shelf, in a closet frozen shut, is a can with a voice inside it.”

Why do I think this is the greatest love story of all time? Maybe I don’t, maybe I just absolutely adore it and couldn’t think of another story that gave me the same feeling as this one. But whenever I think of the sixth borough, I get chills. I even went to NYC once and took pictures that reminded me of the tale. Jonathan Safran Foer told a hell of a story in ELIC, but he also made up this fairy tale that made me fall in love with New York and the romantic side of the city. The purity of the love between these two children is described with the diction of a master, and hell, maybe I just have a soft spot for fairy tales.

But then again, there’s always those terrible moments in novels, and let’s face it, not everyone can write a good love story. Vonnegut, for instance, is without a doubt one of my favorite writers. But his stories tended to sway from romance, which was smart. He knew his genre and what worked with his stories; but one of his greatest unrecognized traits was that he avoided what he knew didn’t work. Brilliant. But not everyone is as intelligent as that; ask anyone who reads the Twilight books.

They are my example of romance that doesn’t work for me. And trust me, it’s not the teen angst aspect of the story, I eat that shit up when it’s well-written. But those books were just plain terrible. I know it’s become cliché to make fun of them, but the writing isn’t even any good. Many people ask me how I can love Harry Potter but hate Twilight, and that’s so simple: it’s the writing. J.K. Rowling is one hell of a writer. Her imagery creates moments in my mind out of things that are purely fiction. Like I know what a thestral is, right? But her words describe it and I imagine it. That’s what’s missing from all of the scenes, not just the love scenes, in the Twilight saga.

I can willingly admit I am a fan of a romantic novel. Nick Hornby has written a few that I love. Caprice Crane has, too. But they are artists, working words into stories that grab the reader and pull them in. Twilight just didn’t do that for me. I could never understand Bella’s love for a vampire, nor could I see the attraction. And trust me, I’ve even admittedly read books like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember (would anyone believe me if I claimed they were read for a class?), and as embarrassing as it is, I will admit that I fell in love with the characters. Jamie Sullivan from the latter was written with such a love of life and a purity that I couldn’t help but adore her.

That’s what was missing with Bella Swan and her boys. There was no real reason to care about them, to connect with them or to even want Bella to clearly be with either Jacob or Edward. Readers chose a side with no real reason. Or because they thought one actor was cuter than the other.

So there you have it; I admit, I enjoy a nice, mushy, well-written love story sometimes, but it has to have some literary merit. Is there anything wrong with that?

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Why I Love My Typewriter

Wragsthinks blogger Dennis Finocchiaro will be discussing his love of typewriters and why he thinks they’re making a resurgence. Here’s a little teaser video, a special news piece that ran on CBS last Sunday.

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By Sara Martin

Today, I’m riffing on a post that Angela Marchesani wrote last week about “Writing In the Zone.” She captured some of my favorite tips for harnessing creativity, so I’m going to give you some guidelines for applying these in your own work.

One of Angela’s tricks is “faux blogging,” or what she calls flogging. While the creative process does often feel unrelenting and brutal, flogging in this context is purely figurative. It’s like blogging, but to an audience of one: yourself.

So what’s the difference between flogging and journaling? Structure. Successful blogs have an overarching purpose. Consistency attracts readers. It can show up in subject matter, narrative voice, posting frequency or length, but readers are drawn to blogs that regularly deliver.

My number one tip for flogging is to develop some themes.When you’re writing for yourself, establishing consistency attracts a valuable resource: ideas. I have over 40 flogs, each dedicated to its own topic. Some are simple lists, others are written in paragraphs, others are more stream of consciousness. I’ve discovered the more homes you provide for different ideas, the more they come to visit (it’s an “if you build it, they will come” phenomenon).

For example, one of my flogs is called “Isness.” I started this one after reading a book about mindfulness. The author advised pausing a few times a day to accept your life exactly as it is. Whenever I see that document on my list, it reminds me to be patient when my day isn’t happening like I think it should. Just seeing the name Isness encourages me to take a minute and write along that theme. I probably contribute new entries to 3-4 flogs every day. Reviewing my list conjures new ideas throughout the week.

This might sound overwhelming, but I’ve slowly built my flog collection over the last two or three years. And I consistently combine similar flogs or prune the ones I no longer find inspiring. I’m a big fan of Google Docs for organizing. Each flog is its own document, accessible easily from “the cloud,” which I imagine is a large warehouse somewhere outside Silicon Valley. Google Docs is as convenient as email, so it’s a regular part of my routine.

Having themes improves your personal writing in three ways:

1. It sparks new ideas. As I mentioned above, a list of themes has the effect of motivating your brain to write from different perspectives.

2. It makes you prolific. The more themes I have, the more I write. It’s like having a big closet — you tend to fill the space you’re given.

3. Your writing is easier to navigate.The structure provided by themes helps you remember what you’ve written in the past and find old ideas. Many of my ideas take months or years to germinate. When I finally decide to use them in a published work, it helps to compare notes from early passages.

I’m sure my approach to flogging is different than Angela’s, as every writer uses tools in their own way. But before her post, I’d never drawn the comparison between my private writing and blogging.

My flogs have been very useful over the years. I credit them for curing writer’s block on many occasions. It’s been illuminating to step back and examine why they work so well. Flogging is a way to make room for new ideas. Build some themes they will come.

Sara Martin is an artist and writer based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her blog provides a weekly dose of artistic wisdom and creativity how-to. Learn to maximize your creative life at modernsentiment.com/blog. She can be followed on Twitter @sara_c_martin

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After having just written my twenty-thousandth word in my novel, part of me feels like I should have a petite celebration. It is a time for celebration: last year at this time I couldn’t imagine writing this many words, let alone completing a one-hundred-thousand-word manuscript. Instead I’m stuck, still feeling the latent effects of my Writer’s Guilt Hangover. You see, this is my second attempt at a first novel. After having written nearly sixty thousand words in a first draft, I did something many seasoned writers and college professors tell you not to do: I shelved the thing. Allow me to explain.

If you’ve ever been through an M.F.A. course, or if you’ve talked to a self-righteous or inexperienced writer (or both embodied in one person, a phenomenon that is, unfortunately, not that rare) you’ll know that the last thing you should do is quit your novel, especially if you’re more than, say, 40 or 50k into it. A few months ago, I’d agree whole-heartedly. I’d have been one of the inexperienced self-righteous Master’s students spewing some kind of “Keep going! You can do it! If you quit you’ll never finish anything!” adage. Oh, how we grow.

I’ve now realized that saying that to a talented yet struggling writer can be more detrimental than helpful. (Or perhaps I just figured this out now while every other inexperienced/self-righteous/M.F.A student knew this already… we writers are a conniving bunch, aren’t we?) But let’s think about this. Truthfully, if you’re that far in to it, it does seem to only make sense to keep pushing through, fix whatever problems there are and at least finish the damn thing.

  But what about the instances when your baby turns into a behemoth without a plot and with too many characters? What about when the problems that you’ve known were there all along become irrevocable? Or even worse, what if you lose the passion you once had for it? After all, when you decide to write a novel, you’re doing it because you have something to say, right? There’s no “Oh, I have this half-assed idea that I’m only semi-interested in.” Of course not. There’s rarely a plan without passion. (If this is the case, you should probably question your career choice. Unless you’re an ex-politician or B-rated actor, I suppose.) There is, however, the far more common passion without a plan. And that’s what we, as writers, need to work through.

What I’ve realized with my writing style: I’m a character gal. I love my characters. I know everything about them. I think about them: what they would think in certain situations, how they would act, what they would feel, what they would say. The problem that occurs for me: I focus so much on my characters that I completely neglect a plot. In my story, because I had lost the plan (or, if I’m going to be completely honest with myself, only had a vague idea of a plan to begin with) I in turn began to lose the passion.

It didn’t happen all at once; in fact it was quite gradual. It’s almost like being in a relationship with one person while fantasizing about someone else; I found myself drawing up new characters and (for the first time) forming a plot that actually made sense, though it had nothing to do with my current one. I dismissed the stray thoughts and continued pushing forward with my original story, writing another thirty thousand words of dialogue, character portrayals, and even a few racy scenes in an effort to add spice to what was quickly becoming inconsequential dribble. It was to no avail, and did nothing more than add another limb to my story that didn’t really connect with anything else. Still though, in the back of mind all I could think of was what my group of writer friends would say. They’d been with me, reading and editing and giving feedback on this story for months. I knew they wouldn’t let me “quit.”

Then one day, I got over it. It kind of just happened. I hadn’t written anything for a few days, and what’s worse, I had turned apathetic towards what I’d created, having no idea where to go with it. So, I let my guilt go almost completely. But before I told anyone, I began writing. The first ten thousand came easily, and after that I knew I had more momentum than I’d ever had with the first story. Many of the characters from the original molded themselves into my new characters, but as it stands, the new characters couldn’t be as fully thought out without the first round of characters to draw from.

Finally, riding on the confidence of that early writing surge, I told my friends. I let them each know individually, nervously over explaining and over gesticulating in an effort to win their approval and avoid the disappointed faces and forced encouragement to “Keep going!” because “It’s good! You can fix the problems!” What I received from them in return was an overwhelming sigh of relief: they were just as pleased that I was moving on from the story as I was. One lovely but honest friend said, “Not to offend, but I think you came to the end of your rope with that one.” Which was exactly what I needed to hear. The next day I put my old story in its own folder, where one day I may return to it, and moved on with my new one.

One final thing, from one struggling writer to another: being a writer is not easy, as most of you already know. It is lonely, it is time-consuming, it is stressful. But the reality is, if you’ve resided yourself to being a writer, you already love it, and you don’t need me to remind you of that. I’m not saying to bow out at the first sign of trouble. If that were the case, no one would be published (I guess except for F. Scott and the many others who wrote while relatively wasted).

The point is to recognize when trouble is occurring, and assess the damage. Can you still fix it? More importantly, do you want to still fix it? Only you know the answer. Don’t let the guilt get to you, because this is your story. Would you rather complete something you don’t really like, or take a few more months (or years) to finish something you truly care about? My advice: don’t waste your time with a ship that has already sailed. Break up with it. Chances are, it won’t call to beg you back, and if your friends are any good at all, they’ll be pleased to see it gone, too. Remind yourself that you were never that happy when it was around anyway, and move on to the one that sends you bouquets of roses when you least expect it.

Alisha Ebling is a writer and blogger living in Philadelphia. You can read her blog at http://open.salon.com/blog/hettiejones and follow her @alishakathryn.

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or My Method on Being Published: Slow Drinking & Fast Women

By T. Fox Dunham

Dennis requested that I write an article about my success as an author, in support of our upcoming anthology. I am the author of the story, The Realm of Ever Dusk and Dawn, and I’m proud to be a part of this anthology with Philadelphia’s best authors.

In the previous fifteen months, over seventy of my short stories have been accepted for publication in international magazines, journals and anthologies in print, online and eBook form. One of the reasons for my success is that I adhere to professional protocol when submitting my manuscripts. Below, I share these techniques.

Alas, the sad truth is that the majority of editors do not read manuscripts to accept – they read to reject. Now don’t blame them. For many editors, this noble, literary pursuit to provide a forum for writing is a labor of love and not profit. Most editors must work a day job and have limited time to spend on the maintenance of a journal. This is why it’s even more important that authors respect and honor editors for their sacrifice and not waste their time and energy.

The larger the submission pile and the later the hour, the more critical the editor often becomes in removing work from his or her reading queue. However, there are still editors that maintain their patience, and I admire them for it. A journal that receives a couple hundred submissions a month means that there is less time and energy to review each submission; thus editors will often be quicker to reject. This is complicated when you have a review committee and a process that requires confirmation on the first steps towards entering those golden gates of acceptance. So, the more desirable the market because of pay rates and circulation, the more precise the author needs to be with respecting the individual guidelines and general market protocol.

An editor’s patience is further diminished by authors who don’t respect the guidelines, and the more popular the market, the more bad manuscripts they receive. On a bad day, an editor or reader can reject on the first transgression, even if it’s an innocent mistake. There’s an old term: The First Shall be the Last.

If you follow these suggestions, you will demonstrate that you are a professional author and you respect the market. That is the best way to be published. Because of too many inconsiderate submissions, markets are beginning a trend in declining simultaneous submissions and even charging reading fees to keep up with the overflow of work. This makes it harder on the rest of us. With the new industry trend for online submissions, it’s even easier for inconsiderate authors to just carpet bomb every journal or anthology listed under Horror on Duotrope, without respect or consideration for the market’s guidelines or editorial needs. By doing this, authors are just building a bad reputation for themselves and making it harder on the rest of us. I’ve seen markets shut down because of frustrated editors who deserve better. Rampant head noogies to anyone guilty of this unprofessional practice.

First and foremost, if you act professionally, follow standard and individual protocol for submissions and treat the market with respect, you will be seen and treated as a professional. This is the most important axiom an author can follow to be successfully published.

Read market’s previous publications to get an idea of their individual, editorial needs. This is the most important guideline for marketing and submitting. Beyond naming their intended genre and sub-genre, editors have a specific voice for their publication. This voice can only be found through actually reading the market. Now, I know it can get expensive to buy sample copies or subscriptions for every market, but try to read it best as you can. Often, markets will place sample work online for you to read or offer writer’s copies at a cheaper price.

Make sure your manuscript is formatted to the individual guidelines of the market. Every market has a set of listed guidelines. Most often they’re basically the same, based on standard manuscript format: 12pt serif font, double spaced, etc. Examples of the standard manuscript can be found online. However, there are often variations based on the needs and taste of the editors. Online markets may request variations, such as no indents and to apply hard returns between paragraphs. Study the guideline’s page on the website or in the print magazine to comply with all specified formatting. Double-check to make sure you’ve covered all points. Also, it is important to follow the particular methods for setting words in italics, bold or other effects in the text. Some markets have no issue, and you can set the text effect normally; other markets may request you underline words you wish to italicize or use some other means to set off the word. Not all markets use the same word processing software, so follow their instructions.

Here is a link to a guide for general industry format of a short story submission.

Be clear and brief in your cover letters. If possible, address the letter to the appropriate editor or editors, which can usually be found on the website under Masthead. List the title, word count and any other required information in the first paragraph. Write any additional information below that paragraph and keep it brief. Don’t summarize your story or try to sell it through your cover letter. Let your story speak for itself. List your previous publications and a brief bio, along with your required contact information. You’d be amazed at how many manuscripts are submitted without the proper contact information, not even a real name or address. If you’re using a byline, list it, but use your real name for all contact information. I sometimes will list my editorial decision for sending a particular story, based on stories I read while researching the market. This shows that you have respected the market. Editors often pass out cookies for that and sigh in relief.

Proof read your manuscript several times before submitting. It also helps to have friends proof read also. I am fortunate to have a few special ladies who read all my manuscripts for errors. They are vital to my work, as my proofing often suffers because of my fatigue from my cancer treatment. After a few proofs, read the story from the last paragraph up, thus preventing you from getting sucked into the story’s narrative where you glance over mistakes because your mind assumes what’s supposed to be there. Read aloud also, so you can hear how the story flows. You’re probably not going to find all your errors, but try to get most of them. An editor can quickly spot a manuscript that has not been proof read, and that shows a lack of consideration for their time. Some will have the patience to keep reading, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Submit through the appropriate medium listed on the website. Editors vary in their protocols for submissions. Most have online submission systems where you can upload a file then copy in a cover letter. Others ask for an email submission with the manuscript attached as a specific file type—doc, rtf—to the email. Or they ask that you copy the story into the email below the cover letter. The best way to be instantly rejected is to disregard the market’s individual submission protocol. Again, not all markets use the same publishing software, so it is important that you save the manuscript as the requested file type or copy it as per the system provided.

And now, the stomach clenching part. Patience. Once a submission is out, it’s time to wait. This is where my time fishing with my grandfather as a boy and my work in the herb gardens has provided me valuable training. Certain markets, especially annual or popular forums, can take up to over a year to respond. You may begin to worry that your submission was not received; fortunately, editors are polite enough to send a confirmation email. Online submission systems will often keep you informed as to the status of your manuscript. Be patient. Markets often list their estimated read and selection time. Once that time is up, it is appropriate for the author to send a query to the status of the manuscript. Whatever the time is, I usually add a third. So if they say three months for a response, I’ll often add one more month to the time then possibly query. With online networks such as Duotrope, you can review if your market has had any activity in responding to manuscripts, which is why more authors need to record their responses, even if they’re rejections. It helps us all.

Most markets allow you simultaneous submissions to help with long wait times. Always make sure to check if simultaneous submissions are allowed and if you need to list it as such in your cover letter. Recording your submissions through Duotrope will also notify you if the market does not accept simultaneous submissions. Try not to do more than three.

I know these seem pragmatic and straight forward, but you’d be amazed at how many authors ignore this protocol. Reputation in the writing industry goes first before a submission. In the online age, word of perfidy and lack of professionalism can spread quickly, thus blacklisting you. Following these steps shows respect and consideration to editors, who often volunteer their labor for a love of writing. They provide a forum where new authors can build their careers. If you act like a professional, you will be perceived as a professional. You will be published.

T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia PA. He’s published in over sixty international journals and anthologies and was a finalist in the Copper Nickel Annual Short Story Contest for his story, The Lady Comes in the Night. He’s a cancer survivor. He is currently finishing his first novel, The Adam & Eve Experiment. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. http://www.facebook.com/tfoxdunham

Also, check out Anthology Philly, which has one of T. Fox Dunham’s stories.

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