Dueling Columns – I’m all for Simultaneous Submissions

First of all, Larina and I are doing a dueling column on this issue. I am FOR simultaneous submission (the writer’s perspective) and Larina is FOR no simultaneous submission (editor’s perspective). You can read her column right here, and YES it IS the same WordPress site. Cute isn’t it? We’re like twins.

http://larina.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/simsubs/

I’ll post it again at the end of the column. Post up your thoughts, go read her column and do the same thing. But be nice. Okay?

SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS:
One author’s perspective

So, Larina (http://larina.wordpress.com/) and I are doing a little column debate here, a little pro and con, between the writer’s side of this story and the editor’s lofty, snotty, inconsiderate perspective. What? Biased? Of course I am. And I edit too for two publications (warning: first plug) http://www.coloredchalk.com and http://sideshowfables.com, but even so, I am violently in favor of ALL publications utilizing a simultaneous submission policy. There, I said it. And to those that are on the other side of the fence, I say BOLLOCKS, open up your doors, and understand what we are up against, out here in the cold, alone and pecking away, crying into our keyboards, pushing away the wife and kids screaming I MUST WRITE!.

WHAT IS SS?

Basically a simultaneous submission policy says that you may indeed submit your fantastic short story (or novel) to other publications BUT (and this is a BIG BUT, one that this policy hinges on I think) you MUST inform any other magazines or websites the minute you are accepted elsewhere. Why? Well, so they can congratulate you on your success, and pull your story out of the slush pile, and not waste any more time reading it, or running it up the corporate ladder for approval, or whatever it takes to break through.

STATISTICS

I’ll be putting up stats from http://www.duotrope.com, a fantastic site for finding markets and tracking submissions. Go use them now, and donate a couple of dollars too.

RESPONSE TIMES

There is a wide range of times that you can wait for an editor and publication to get back to you. Some of the fastest like Anderbo.com can do it in a day or two, same for Clarkesworld, a big publisher in the fantasy and sci-fi arenas. The FASTEST 25 at Duotrope end with #25 being seven days. That’s quick. Now, at the other end, take a look at this nightmare:

1. Sniplits (387 days)
2. Open City (280 days)
3. Doorways Magazine (252.6 days)
4. Saint Ann’s Review / tsarina (248.1 days)
5. Blackbird (243.5 days)
6. McSweeney’s Quarterly (221.8 days)
7. Another Chicago Magazine (201.1 days)
8. Fence (192 days)
9. Baltimore Review, The (187.1 days)
10. Ascent (184.9 days)
11. Public Space, A (181.8 days)
12. Rambler, The (180.8 days)
13. Coyote Wild (177.8 days)
14. Low Rent Magazine (176 days)
15. Chattahoochee Review (170.9 days)
16. Yale Review (170.4 days)
17. Blue Mesa Review (165.4 days)
18. Inkwell Journal (160.4 days)
19. Crab Orchard Review (156.3 days)
20. Antioch Review (151.8 days)
21. Harvard Review (150.2 days)
22. Gettysburg Review (147.5 days)
23. Crazyhorse (147.4 days)
24. Dark Recesses (147 days)
25. Indiana Review (145.1 days)

I’m still waiting to hear back from St. Ann’s and it has been over 400 days for one story and NO RESPONSE from the editors. Ever. Repeatedly.

There are some big names on here – McSweeney’s, APS, Antioch, Harvard, Crazyhorse. So let us say you are waiting on a top publication. I won’t even pick the longest one. Say an average of about six months, or 180 days. Think about how long that will take you. You wait six months, only to get rejected. Do it again. Wait six months. Get rejected. Do it again. And again, and again, and again. Now we get to talk about acceptance rates, to REALLY make this all sound dire.

ACCEPTANCE RATES

Here are the Top 25 HARDEST to get into, also from Duotrope:

1. Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) (0.2 %)
2. Glimmer Train Stories (0.3 %)
3. Ninth Letter (0.3 %)
4. Missouri Review (0.3 %)
5. Clarkesworld Magazine (0.4 %)
6. Kenyon Review (0.6 %)
7. Narrative Magazine (0.6 %)
8. Pedestal Magazine (0.7 %)
9. Willow Springs (0.7 %)
10. Mid-American Review (0.8 %)
11. Hobart (Print) (0.8 %)
12. Analog Science Fiction & Fact (0.8 %)
13. McSweeney’s Internet Tendency (0.8 %)
14. Strange Horizons (0.9 %)
15. Atlantic Monthly, The (0.9 %)
16. Hayden’s Ferry Review (0.9 %)
17. Colorado Review (0.9 %)
18. DIAGRAM (1.1 %)
19. Black Warrior Review (1.1 %)
20. Shimmer (1.2 %)
21. Gulf Coast (1.2 %)
22. Futurismic (1.2 %)
23. upstreet TEMP CLOSED (1.2 %)
24. failbetter.com (1.2 %)
25. GUD: Greatest Uncommon Denominator (1.3 %)

Notice something in common? The top 25 are all at about 1%. That means 99% percent get rejected. And that doesn’t even include the listings that are at a big fat ZERO, they don’t show up at all. Again, some big names in here – F&SF, Glimmer Train, Missouri Review, Clarkesworld, Kenyon, Narrative, Hobart, Analog, McSweeney’s, Atlantic, Colorado Review, Black Warrior, GUD – an elite list that most of us would KILL to be on.

So, if we add this acceptance rate of 1% to the six month waiting period, how long is that damn story of yours going to take to finally break through? Something like FIFTY YEARS, right? Well screw that, I might as well get drunk and watch bad tv.

GOOD COMPANY:

Bummed out yet? Don’t be. There is hope. And I don’t mean just send your work to much easier places. I mean, you’re in good company. Of those 25 HARDEST to get into, how many do you think are NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS? Only NINE. So the rest, they get it, and they find a way to deal with it. At least those on THIS list with NSS policies are fast. The eight that do require you to submit to them, and only them (F&SF, Clarkesworld, Analog, McSweeney’s Internet, Strange Horizons, Atlantic, Shimmer, and Futurismic) have a range of 3 days up to 44 days. Most are in the 15-30 day range. A very reasonable time, in my opinion, and certainly not six months.

GOOD COMPANY EXAMPLE:

Here is a quote from Orchid: A Literary Review that about sums it up for me.

“…and, yes, we do consider simultaneous submissions. After all, we’ve heard that the average story is submitted twenty (or more) times and rejected twenty (or more) times before being published. At that rate, without simultaneously submitting, it would take at least five years to place a story. That just seems mean.”

BAD COMPANY:

So we feel better now, a little bit anyway, having seen that some of the top publications (in a wide range of genres too) get it, and are for SS. But go back to that first list, those that take the LONGEST. Here are the real culprits, and I’ll give my thoughts on them in a second.

Of those first 25, the SLOWEST to respond, how many do you think are ALSO no SS? Luckily only SIX:

Sniplits – 387 (SNIPLITS? What the hell?)
Ascent – 184
Coyote – 177
Yale – 170
Antioch – 157
Dark Recesses – 147

For some of these, it may be that they are understaffed, or for the journals, tied to a university, away for the summer. But really? I forgive none of them.

NOVELS:

This one is tough. I can ALMOST understand why some presses would have this policy, but COME ON. This is even MORE of a situation that calls for NO simultaneous submission. I don’t care if you run it past two interns, a co-editor, the editor and up the ladder to the CEO and whatever other yahoos at the top have to read it. Do you know how hard it is to publish a novel? Again, I think it is in that 1% range. And we spend YEARS writing our novels. I don’t think I’ve ever taken more than three months to write a short story and most of that is just trying to fix little things. Some stories CAN take years to perfect, but it’s not like you’re working several hours a day and writing 60,000-100,000 words. I can’t bend on this.

Now…I’m not talking about somebody asking for an “exclusive” or the “full manuscript”. I think if you are having an open conversation with an agent or publisher you should tell the truth. I just went through this with an agent on the east coast. I told her my novel Transubstantiate was at a couple of presses and she said fine. I sent her a synopsis, she asked for a chapter. She came here, read it, and said send the whole thing. I sent it to her, with the promise that she would read it in THIRTY days, and she kept her word. She rejected it in THIRTY days, right on time.

And what are the odds? What are the odds that TWO publishers will actually decide to publish your novel? Unless you are really successful, and are in some sort of bidding war or actually are in a position where you know your book will sell, if you make a living at it…but that’s not what I’m talking about. The worst case scenario if two presses want it…you just burned a bridge. The odds are just too much against us for me to worry about that. But I can almost understand it.

SOLUTION:

I had an interesting talk with Beth over at Shimmer. I’d sent in a query because my story was 6800 words, and they ask for you to do that for anything over 5000 words. Now, I like what Shimmer is doing, but I made the mistake of saying that this story was indeed at other publications. She refused to even read my query. I understand that, completely. But I asked her some follow up questions, basically wondering why Shimmer was a no simultaneous submission publication. Her response?

“I’m sorry you find this inconvenient, and hope you find success with the publishers who work according to your expectations.”

Wow. Is that a bit snarky or is it just me? I can’t tell sometimes. I wasn’t asking her to bend to my whim, or change their policy simply to please me (although that would have been nice) I was just curious as to WHY they adopted this policy when so many publications were NOT doing it that way anymore. Was it staff, number of submissions, too many horror stories about accepting a story only to find it gone when they got back to you six months later? At least Shimmer is fast, only taking 10 days.

What to do? Here are a couple of solutions:

1. SCREW THEM.

What nerve. Who are these people to make me wait six months, with a 1% acceptance rate? That’s cruel and I won’t stand for it. So, don’t submit to them. Avoid them, they’ll never run your work anyway, and because of their attitude, they are now officially ignored.

or more reasonably

2. RESPECT IT.

Put those guys up front, especially those that are fast. Send it out, and wait 10 days. That’s not so bad. Spend the first three months of your submissions targeting those top places with fast response times. I’ve done that before with F&SF, Clarkesworld, Cemetery Dance, and others.

or

3. TIME IT

So I entered a story, “Victimized” this 6800 word neo-noir thriller into the recent BOMB contest. Now, I know that my odds of winning are slim and none. BUT…maybe the editor really likes dark, rich stories, or maybe it could place, and still get published. So I have two choices. Submit and wait for 4-5 months OR…(and this is what I did) TIME IT. What do I mean? Let me explain.

Say you are sending out your best story ever to about 10 places that you really love, that seem like a good fit. Most of them are in the 1% acceptance range, maybe a couple in the 5% range, some in the 10% range. One, BOMB is having a contest, and is NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS. Figure out (ie, Duotrope again) what the AVERAGE time is for all of these, and then send them out so that they all hit on about the same date. If BOMB is the longest at say 120 days, send it first. Five are at 90 days, so send them in a month. The other five are 30 days, so wait a couple months, then send them out. They’ll all hit on or about the same day. And that way you don’t wait for years, and still get a shot at those hard to break into magazines. We just need to be realistic with 1% acceptance rates.

And when NONE of them take it…start all over again with the next tier of magazines and journals until your story finds a home. NEVER give up.

*NOTE: And don’t forget about online fiction. It used to be a taboo, a blemish or sorts, the last place to put your work. No so anymore. Many “literary” and award winning publications and universities are adding in an online presence OR even going to ONLY online. Maybe for additional exposure, or maybe to save money. I think Dogmatika.com, WordRiot.com, OpiumMagazine.com and 3:AMMagazine.com are all doing really great work, just to name a few. Dzanc Books just added TheCollagist.com with Matt Bell at the helm. It’s great exposure, and when somebody asks “Got something I can read?” you just send them over.

And the last option…

4. IGNORE IT.

I’ve asked a lot of my fellow writers, and most of them do ignore it. I’ve asked published authors, professors, editors and other esteemed professionals and most say just ignore it. Think of the odds. I mean, F&SF and Clarkesworld are going to be fighting over my story? And BOTH will accept it at the same time? It’ll never happen. At least, not until I’m very successful, and at that time, I may not worry about it. Or maybe they’ll be soliciting ME by then. There is always the risk of getting placed on some BLACKLIST, but I’ve never heard of such a thing. And I’ve never been in a position where two places accepted a story at the exact same time. As long as you send off a withdraw notice immediately, you should be fine. And many times, in doing that, I’ve gotten into conversations with editors, talking about my work, and/or where it did end up, and now that I’ve got a bit more of a personal relationship with this editor, I may stand out when I submit. “Oh, that dysfunctional Richard submitted again. Gather around all, lets see what insanity he sent in this time. Elephant penis? Modern vampire tale?”

CONCLUSION:

It’s up to you how to submit, what stories to send to each publication, and how you abide by the rules. Or not. I personally think that the NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSION guideline should be abolished. It’s hard enough out here for us struggling writers without this rule. We need every break we can get.

ALTERNATE OPINION:

Visit http://larina.wordpress.com/2009/08/30/simsubs/ and see what Larina has to say. I don’t know what her post is going to be, we haven’t talked at all, so it’ll be interesting to see what arguments she presents. Be kind.

Peace,
Richard

Dreamland Comics – Libertyville, IL

Libertyville, IL

Libertyville, IL

I met with the owner, Dave Gray, the other day to talk about a little co-op work. I live in Mundelein, IL which is just west of Libertyville, IL. What a great guy. He’s going to help promote my blog and writing and I’m going to talk about his shop.

First, these guys are sincere and passionate about what they do. They’re really into what they do, and it shows. They have a fantastic selection, and treat their customers with respect. I’m not the biggest comic collector, but have gone in here repeatedly to get some Gunslinger comics (the Stephen King adapted works) and they’ve even set aside some of the limited variants for me. If you live in the area, or even if you don’t, and need a good source for all of your comic, graphic novel and other related need, check out their website and order up. I love walking in here. I had to actually leave my wallet in the car so that I wouldn’t blow my paycheck – so many cool classic comics, new edgy graphic novels, and everything in between.

I do read a few titles. Was into the 100 BULLETS series, obviously the GUNSLINGER stuff. I picked up a little AEON FLUX, since I loved the MTV series, WATCHMEN of course, and some other random bits, Paul Pope’s work, such as 100%, SANDMAN, FABLES, Y: THE LAST MAN. Guess I’m more of a VERTIGO guy.

Stop by the store, give these guys a call or check out their website at http://www.dreamland-comics.com as they are sure to have what you need.

• New Comics
• Back Issues
• Comic and Card Supplies
• Role-Playing Games
• Sports Cards
• Warhammer 40K
• Collectible Card Games
• Action Figures

INFORMATION:

105 West Rockland Road
Libertyville, IL 60048
1 (847) 680-0727
Fax: 1 (847) 680-4495
info@dreamland-comics.com

HOURS
Monday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday: 10 a.m to 5 p.m.
Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Speculative slipstream cross-genre new wave fabulist fiction

Paraspheres

Paraspheres

Okay, so I ran across this great article at Omnidawn today ( http://www.omnidawn.com/ ) and even though it was dated 2006, it sounds as if it was written yesterday. It relates to a lot of what I personally write, as well as many of my friends and peers. I see Brian Evenson talking about it all the time, including at least two panels at AWP (Chicago 2009 and NYC 2008). I know that Stephen Graham Jones deals with it all the time, and will be continuing this conversation at the 2010 AWP in Denver. I’m so glad to see people speaking out about it. And after reading the Best American Short Stories 2008 and finding so many fantastic voices pushing the edges of “literary” fiction (such as TC Boyle, AM Homes, Katie Price, Karen Brown, etc.) is really encouraging.

2010 panels that I already know about include the fantastic Dr. Jones:

“Crime, Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy…Seriously,”
“Byronic Vampires and Melancholy Green Men: Harnessing Genre for Literary Use.”

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Those two panels ALONE should get me there, let alone Chabon. Here’s the article though at Omnidawn. It’s a bit long, and a bit academic, but man it sure hits home.

http://www.omnidawn.com/paraspheres/index.htm#why

Just scroll down a bit. The anthology, Paraspheres, of course contains a story entitled “An Accounting” by Brian Evenson. It sounds like a must read too.

Peace,
Richard

Christopher Dwyer – Dark Matter – Dogmatika “Writer in Residence”

Official Website

Official Website

I’ve been a peer and friend of Christopher for a couple of years now. We often joke that we were separated at birth. Brothers from another mother. We have very similar styles, and I think that is why we were drawn to each other’s work. We both like heavy setting, lyrical prose and the darker sides of life. Neither of us shy away from graphic sex (and that’s a good thing) nor do we pull any punches on the violence (also a visceral component).

Earlier this year when I heard that CJD was going to be the “writer-in-residence” at Dogmatika, a staff writer with a new story/column called DARK MATTER up every month, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. A bit jealous, of course, as I had my first story up at Dogmatika earlier this year. But the bottom line is that I always look forward to his work, and have never been let down. And that’s a lot of stories. We’ve also published together quite often, including Colored Chalk (that alternative literary whore, who HASN’T been in), Gold Dust, as well as Dogmatika.com and a vampire anthology that we’re shopping around right now (fantastic work, many names you’d recognize) tentatively called SHADOW KINDRED.

Christopher’s link is over to the right there on my blogroll as well as Dogmatika of course, but here are direct links to his recent stories/columns. “Crackle” is one of my favorite stories of his, but they all rock. He’s one of the most talented and unique voices out there today. Stories are in reverse chronological order.

DOGMATIKA – DARK MATTER by Christopher Dwyer

“Scars and Salvation” – Part One
http://dogmatika.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/scars-and-salvation-one/

“Crackle”
http://dogmatika.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/crackle/

“Guiltless”
http://dogmatika.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/guiltless/

“Collide”
http://dogmatika.wordpress.com/2009/03/13/collide/

Major Inversions by Gordon Highland

by Gordon Highland

by Gordon Highland

Gordon is a very generous and talented guy. He recorded the voice-over work for my story up at Word Riot, is a very active and supportive member of my novel workshop, Write Club, plays a major role at The Velvet and has published alongside me in Colored Chalk. I’m psyched that this is finally getting out there. It got a lot of good responses in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, and made it a lot farther than my novel. It’s funny and subversive, so check it out.

“Your roommate says you should date more, that all those spandex nights on stage paying tribute to hair metal and banging faceless groupies only amplify your Jekyll/Hyde syndrome. That this quicksand town of floozies, fiends, and filmmakers will survive without your commercial jingles. And your narcotics. That you should turn in your daytime security-guard badge and settle down.

He’s got the perfect girl, a cinnamon-scented innocent who will bring that elusive substance to your life despite the familial forces that conspire against your union.

Always lurking in the periphery, the roommate remains buried in his Master’s thesis, the parasitic puppeteer behind your reinvention, the search for your birth parents, and your all-too-brief film scoring career. A supporting cast of lecherous directors, deluded bandmates, federal agents, and nostalgic exes enable and obstruct your path to closure and ironic revenge as you wash the blood from your hands in this revisionist character study that is Major Inversions.”

Caleb Ross in Vain Magazine

Caleb J. Ross Charactered Pieces

Caleb J. Ross "Charactered Pieces"

I’ve been bad about promoting my friends and peers here on my blog, just a matter of time and actually remembering to do that, so I’m going to work hard to do better at that.

I’m very excited to see Caleb J. Ross get his story into Vain, one of the most compelling and visually appealing rags out there. Go check it out, it’s a story I’ve known for a long time, and I absolutely love it.

Keep up the great work Caleb.

Peace,
Richard

PS-His personal website is linked over there on the right hand side as well on my BLOGROLL. Vain too, as I published with them earlier this year, my short story “Underground Wonderbound” a sordid little tale about an underground sex club. That story is linked under both SHORT STORIES and TABLE OF CONTENTS.

Sideshow Fables #1 is OUT – Circus Fiction

I’m posting this for Paul. I am the co-editor and designer. I’m really proud of the overall vision, look and quality of work in this debut issue.

Fiction by Steve Almond, Craig Wallwork, Nik Korpon, Catherine J. Gardner, Caleb J. Ross, Rhian Waller, Deborah Walker, Christopher Kugler, Colin McKay Miller, and the first installment of a Sideshow Fables serial by Nicholas Merlin Karpuk.

I’m a big fan of Steve Almond, and we’re thrilled to have him in our first issue. You may recognize the names of Craig, Nik, Caleb and Colin as writers that have published in Colored Chalk before, some in my issues. All are fantastic writers, and I’ve published alongside many of them. In fact, Craig and Caleb are going to be in the Gold Dust Anthology coming out at the end of the year. The Great Karpuk is another writer whose work I’ve gotten to know, and I’ve become a real fan of his work as well. The other writers are all new to me, but their contributions are just as strong.

*****************************************************************************************

Hello everyone,

I am excited to announce that Sideshow Fables #1 is now available for sale at http://www.sideshowfables.com. Visit the Sideshow Fables ‘Store’ to view buying options.

The print edition of Sideshow Fables will be available to ship in a week or so. We are accepting pre-orders at this time, so if you purchase the print magazine through the website, your order will be shipped as soon as we have the copies in hand. When you purchase a print copy, you will also receive a free copy of the E-book version of Sideshow Fables in PDF format. You will receive a separate email that will give you a link to download the PDF.

You will also see that we have the E-book version of Sideshow Fables #1 for sale that is available immediately for only $3.00. After you complete your checkout with PayPal, you will be given a link to download the file.

Thanks for your continued interest and support of Sideshow Fables. When you purchase a copy of Sideshow Fables in any format, you are supporting the Sideshow Fables team, the writers of the stories, and literature as a form of entertainment.

Let us know what you think of Issue #1 by emailing us at sideshowfables@gmail.com.

On behalf of everyone here at Sideshow Fables, thanks so much!

Sincerely,

Paul Eckert

Editor
Sideshow Fables
sideshowfables@gmail.com
http://www.sideshowfables.com