30 October 2013

submit-o-rama: the final word

Persevere.
October Submit-O-Rama: The Final Word

Oh, you thought there was going to be more than one final word? Okay, I'll appease.

You must persevere.

To be a writer, you must persevere.

To be a published author, you must persevere.

To overcome your fear of rejection, you must persevere.

And here's another one: To finish the Submit-O-Rama as a success, to win, to truly understand the purpose of this month-long marathon of submitting your work to eager editors ... you must simply persevere.

If you submitted thirty times, you persevered. If you submitted fifteen times, you persevered. If you submitted once, you persevered. If you didn't submit at all, but wrote something new, you persevered. If you didn't do any of the above, but have plans to kick the submission monster in the rear next month, or two months from now, or next spring, you're persevering.

Perseverance in the life of a writer looks different for each of us. The key isn't to always succeed. It's to always try. If you tried, at all, even once, this Submit-O-Rama, I applaud you.

And in case you're thinking, "That's easy for you to say, you host this thing, of course you won" ... I just admitted to a group of writer friends the other night in a public online forum the total number of submissions I made this month: One. I wrote three new poems (none of which I submitted). I wrote every post for this month (and, in case you didn't notice, skipped a few days). I also started sketching a novel for NaNoWriMo, drew my first pictures in over a year, started to dabble at the piano again, and ultimately simply woke up my creative gene again. Maybe that's all I needed this month. Maybe all you needed was to face down a list of journals and say, "I'm not afraid of you" ... even if you didn't submit to a single one of them.

Persevere.

The final step of the Submit-O-Rama is to send an email to ourlostjungle@kharahouse.com with the name of the challenge you attempted, and whether or not you completed the challenge. If you completed your challenge, kudos! If not, you still participated, and that's awesome! Everyone who participated will receive a certificate of participation (and everyone who completed their challenge will receive an additional certificate of completion), so make sure you make note of how you'd like your name to appear on your certificate! You have until 11:59 pm tomorrow (October 31, 2013) to send out submissions and count them as part of the challenge, so keep going! You have until Friday, November 8th, to submit your information for a certificate! Good luck, and ... Congratulations!

*****

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Check out the six Our Lost Jungle Submit-O-Rama Challenge!:

25 October 2013

a to z presses: v – z


OLJ Submit-O-Rama: A to Z Presses (V - Z)
Guys ... this is the last Friday of the Submit-O-Rama! How exciting (and horrifying, maybe, but mostly exciting) is that?! That makes this the last listing of literary journals and presses seeking your work. For folks doing any of the challenges, as of today we will have covered one journal per letter of the alphabet! That means, if you submit to all of the journals covered in the A to Z series, you’ll have submitted at least 26 times! This week’s A to Z Presses series post covers “V” through “Z.”

(Note: Be sure to carefully read each journal’s submission guidelines and process instructions before sending in your submission packets! As an added note, there are much fewer journals with titles starting in this alphabet range, so some or many of these are repeats from past A to Z Presses posts, and they may have more limited pools of writers. That's not an attempt to limit your options ... it's just the water we're swimming in. Have fun!)

verdad

About: Verdad is “an online, twice-yearly literary and fine arts journal that showcases the best unpublished poetry, short stories, non-fiction and visual art that comes our way. We also offer a wide range of interviews featuring contemporary writers and artists.” (Note: Submissions for Volume 15 closed in September, but current submissions are being read for the next issue.)


weave

About: Weave Magazine is a "bicoastal literary organization and print publication" seeking to “create a space for a cross-section of writers and artists to meet on the page, on the stage, and in workshop. We celebrate diversity in both the creator and their works and strive to showcase both novice and established writers and artists.”


xenith

About: Xenith “lives at the crossroads of literature and digital culture.” They accept “most forms and genres of writing: poetry, fiction, flash fiction, plays, creative nonfiction, graphic novels, comics and comic scripts, unsent letters, experimental, sci-fi, literary mainstream, whatever. The type of writing doesn’t matter, but the quality of writing does. Quality writing is writing that startles. Surprise us.”


yemassee

About: Yemassee is a bi-annual literary journal seeking “quality submissions of fiction, poetry, drama, and creative nonfiction. We love good writing, and we’re always hoping to find fresh, new voices to publish alongside established authors.”


zyzzyva

About: ZYZZYVA presents “a vibrant mix of established talents and new voices, providing an elegantly curated overview of contemporary arts and letters with a distinctly San Francisco perspective.” The journal publishes the best in established and emerging writer voices from the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii).


Submit-O-Ramers are GO!


*****

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Check out the six Our Lost Jungle Submit-O-Rama Challenge!:

21 October 2013

submission potty mouth 101: what editors mean by “previously published”

What Editors Mean by "Previously Published"
Many of you have probably noticed during your Submit-O-Rama adventure that most journals and editors make one uniform request across the playing field: “No previously published work.” Unfortunately, the one thing that isn’t uniform is the definition of previously published. What’s worse, the rise in online publishing options has made that definition even more difficult to peg. Here’s a look at some of the “frequently asked questions” when it comes to this sticky topic!

What is “previously published writing”?

Typically, “previously published” refers to any writing that has appeared in print. In the age of primarily print publications, this used to mean publication in physical-print form: books, journals, magazines, newspapers, and other print publications. Unfortunately, these days things are complicated by the digital age: many (though not all) publishers consider work that appears on blogs, social media, personal websites, and even in some cases comments or forums previously published as well.

Why is work on my blog or personal website previously published?!

The short answer is … because you published it. This is, again, thanks to the digital age. Once you publish it to your website, it is published work. Unless your site is completely private, it is available to the public, and already getting the exposure literary journals want first serial rights to.

What if I take a posting of my writing off my site/blog? Can I submit it?

Short answer: Maybe. Little longer answer: probably not. The fact is, while there are some journals that are okay with you taking a piece off your site before submitting it many will still consider it previously published. You definitely need to check with the publisher before trying this.

What if I posted writing in an online forum?

Again, this is tricky. If it’s a private forum, a private group providing feedback, or a community page for “writer support,” it usually isn’t considered previously published (but not always). Basically, it’s private if you need a log-in to access and view any posts. If it’s public, and anyone can see it, it may be (but, again, not always) considered previously published.

Why, when I take my work down from an online site, would it still be considered previously published?

Because taking a site or page or post down doesn’t make it disappear. Usually a cached version of whatever you published is still accessible for years after you take it down. Here’s a trick to try if you opt to take this route: do a Google search for a sentence or phrase from your work, in quotes. This will usually bring up any cached versions that still exist online. (Don’t try just one phrase … try several.)

What if I self-published a chapbook or collection with a piece in it?

This is a lot trickier than most think it should be. If you’ve self-published, it’s generally going to be considered previously published work. Even if you only shared it with a few friends, you’ve put your work out there in printed, published form. Unfortunately, unlike the possibility (albeit slim) of removing a previously published piece completely from the web, this is a more permanent publication. However, in some cases a self-published work through a POD service may not be considered published if you’ve retained the copyright, in part because a publisher can still technically purchase or claim first serial publishing rights.

Can I edit a previously published piece and submit it?

This is a maybe. In some cases, if the edits are significant enough, you can go ahead and submit it. If changes are minor, check with the publisher first. In fact, even if you make significant changes, you may want to check with the potential publisher before submitting it. Do yourself a favor and don’t try a simple title switcheroo with a previously published piece.

In general, a good rule to follow is: If you want to publish it traditionally, don’t print it anywhere else first. If you do, always check with a publisher before submitting the piece/work to a journal, magazine, or publisher. Don’t be afraid to be forthcoming about a piece you’re unsure about; the worst the editor can say is, “No thank you”!

Your Turn: What are your views on “previously published” work? Have you dealt with this debate or topic in your own publishing journey?


*****

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Check out the six Our Lost Jungle Submit-O-Rama Challenge!:

19 October 2013

a to z presses: o – u

OLJ Submit-O-Rama: A to Z Presses (O - U)
On Fridays throughout the Submit-O-Rama, the focus of Our Lost Jungle will be on great literary journals and presses seeking your work. For folks doing any of the challenges, by the end of the month we will have covered one journal per letter of the alphabet! That means, if you submit to all of the journals covered in the A to Z series, you’ll have submitted at least 26 times! This week’s A to Z Presses series post covers “O” through “U.”

(Note: Be sure to carefully read each journal’s submission guidelines and process instructions before sending in your submission packets!)

origami journal

About: “Like the art of origami, Origami Journal reflects the human ability to take something ‘ordinary’, like a piece of paper, and transform it into something extraordinary. Published quarterly in winter, spring, summer, and fall, Origami seeks to bring together creative minds and stimulate the imagination.”

Website: http://origamijournal.com/submit/

painted bride quarterly

About: Established in Philadelphia in 1973, PBQ is “one of the country’s longest running literary magazines. PBQ is a community-based, independent, non-profit literary magazine published quarterly online and annually in print, making it accessible to a broad and diverse audience. This hybrid format allows for immediacy, accessibility and permanence simultaneously.”

Website: http://pbq.drexel.edu/submit/

the quotable

About: The Quotable is “a quarterly online and print magazine showcasing tomorrow’s quote-worthy authors.  Each issue will feature short stories, essays, poetry and artwork based on a specific theme and quote.” The current theme is “Courage & Cowardice.”

Website: https://thequotablelit.submittable.com/submit

the rag

About: The mission of The Rag is “to seek out powerful new literary voices and bring them to light. We see electronic publishing as an opportunity to turn back time to an era of affordable distribution and open competition, and it allows us to reach a broader audience and inject new life into the literary market.” (Note: This is a paying publication with a small reading fee for online submissions.)

Website: https://raglitmag.submittable.com/submit

the safety pin review

About: This is probably one of the most unique journal concepts I’ve come across lately! The Safety Pin Review is “a biweekly literary magazine featuring work of fewer than 30 words, with a major D.I.Y. twist: in addition to being published online, each piece is hand-painted onto a cloth back patch, which is attached (via safety pins) to one of our operatives—a collective network of authors, punks, thieves, and anarchists—who wear it everywhere they go for a week.” They are looking for “literary quality, hard-hitting stories with an afterburn.”

Website: http://safetypinreview.com/submission-guidelines/

tendril

About:Tendril Literary Magazine is an online collection of poetry, short fiction, and other words published with the seasons.” (Note: Tendril offers a free submission or a submission with a $5 fee for “editor feedback.” While most of us like submitting for free, this is also a rare opportunity to hear direct from an editor what did or did not work in your submission/writing.)

Website: https://tendrilmag.submittable.com/submit

under the gum tree

About: Under the Gum Tree is a journal of creative nonfiction. It is “a storytelling project, publishing creative nonfiction in the form of a micro-magazine. We believe in the power of sharing a story without shame. Too much of the human experience gets hidden behind constructed facades based on what we perceive the world expects from us. Stop hiding. Live a story. Tell it without shame. And by without shame, we mean that the authors and contributors featured in our pages own their story, even the ugly parts, and share it with pure, unadulterated, raw, candid vulnerability.”

Website: http://underthegumtree.com/submit/


*****

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Want to be the first to know about upcoming Jungle happenings? Sign up for the Our Lost Jungle Newsletter for updates, contest alerts, and more! Sign up here, or use the link at the top of the right column!

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Check out the six Our Lost Jungle Submit-O-Rama Challenge!:

16 October 2013

ten reasons your writing doesn’t suck (as much as you think it does)

10 Reasons Your Writing Doesn't Suck
Today is for those of you who are stuck in the “I don’t have anything worth sharing” pit of the submission process. Affectionately dubbed the ID HAWS (or the “Id House”)*, this is the point in your writing career in which you start operating based on the "pleasure principle." We’re not exactly talking about the Freudian pleasure principle, but it’s a related concept: we seek to avoid pain (i.e. rejection) and would rather dwell in the realm of self-pleasure (the writing is “good enough for me”) than face the risk of the realm of external influence (the writing “may not be good enough for them”). As writers our instinct is to both take pleasure in writing … and avoid pain because of our writing. So instead of letting anyone else (read: editors) hurt us, we convince ourselves our writing “isn’t good enough” for anybody else (but ourselves). This post is simply a look at why you can’t use “it’s not good enough for anyone but me” as an excuse anymore … or, the

"Ten Reasons Your Writing Doesn't Suck (As Much As You [Let Yourself] Think It Does)"

1. your inner editor is a rebellious jerk
Sometimes it’s not that the writing is bad … it’s just that your inner editor won’t shut up. You’ve got in front of you a beautiful, prolific piece of writing, but for some reason that little voice keeps screaming for changes. At some point you need to tell the inner critic to shut up, and move on. If you edit forever, eventually you’ll wind up with … nothing.

2. itsucksitis is a viral infection
It just doesn’t quit. You may just be telling yourself your work isn’t ready for so long that you can’t let the medicine of realizing it’s not bad do its work. It’s just like when you’re sick, and you tell yourself, “I’m too sick to go to the bathroom and grab the medicine that will make me better.” The longer you lay there in your sick, the longer you’ll stay there in your sick. It’s time to get up and go to the medicine cabinet.

3. your friends aren’t that nice
This doesn’t mean “Your friends are terrible people.” This simply means: the people you’ve allowed to read your work aren’t sugar coating the truth about your writing. When they say, “I love this,” they usually mean “I love this.” Choose good critics, and trust their praise. Stop convincing yourself they’re “just saying that to be nice.” Writers, generally, could give two rats’ tails about being “nice” to each other.

4. you know what bad looks like
You’ve seen atrocious writing, and you’d never imitate it. That, almost by default, means your writing can’t be that bad … or at least not as bad as you think. And on a related note …

5. [insert famous author’s name here] is terrible, and yet [insert famous author's name here] is famous
Remember when you heard about [Author]’s book? Remember when [Author]’s book was number one on the bestseller list, so you thought you’d probably better read it? Remember when you picked up your copy and got through ten pages before realizing it was dribble? The fact of the matter is, some of the top writers out there aren’t the best writers out there. It’s not that their writing is bad; it’s just not great. Which means you need to stop trying to convince yourself you need to be “great” to be “good,” or that if you’re not “great” you’re automatically “the worst thing ever since spoiled sliced bread.”

6. you wrote that thing that one time that you burned in that sink
Speaking of remembering … remember that piece of garbage you wrote when you were twelve and thought you were so profound? Remember when you found it a few, or many, years later, and in absolute shame burned it or tore it up or fed it to the dog or your baby brother? As long as you’re not writing like that anymore ... you’re improving as a writer.

7. refrigerator art
If we could all go back and recall all the horrors we created that our parents still stuck to the fridge like Mona Lisa replicas, we’d be much happier as writers and artists. Personal story: My dad still has pictures I drew when I was maybe five and was convinced that you needed to draw someone’s backside on the back of a profile picture. My third grade teacher recently sent me some poems I wrote that she’d kept. I look back at those things and my smile of reminiscence is mingled with a grimace of horror. But guess what? All those things are worth something to somebody. And if that junk is, so is the not-junk you’re writing now that you actually know what you’re doing. Somewhere, your work will be someone’s refrigerator art.

8. you have writer friends
Writers are snobs. We like to hang out with people whose work we think has merit. So guess what? That writer pal you hang out with? She thinks your work has merit. That guy who’s always griping about how disgusted he is with so-and-so’s writing? He’s talking to you—and he thinks your work has merit. Trust your snobby friends. (And if you doubt your snobby writer friends, recall number three on this list.)

9. your pink slips don’t define you
Rejection slips don’t define how great or terrible your writing is. So stop relying on them to tell you whether your writing has merit. Think of rejections not as pink slips received for job negligence or incompetence. Think of them as pink slips received during an economic decline. You’re good at what you do, really … sometimes the world just stinks and can’t make room for your awesomeness. Move on to the next place that can make room.

10. you’re a writer
That’s right. You’re a writer. It’s in your blood. It didn’t get in there by accident. You have something to say that’s worth sharing. So stop clamming up and start climbing up: kick off your silence shoes and start putting yourself out there. It’s a long, hard climb to find someone who appreciates what you have to say, but you’re a writer. Your blood is thick with words, and your skin is thick with a thousand pages. Start wearing the title as a badge of honor, not a pit of despair. Remember: you’re a writer. Your words have power. The world needs it. Stop hogging it because you’re afraid of what will happen when you let your power loose. Unleash.

Happy Writing, Worthy Writer!

* Okay, I admit it … I may be the only one to call it this. But I think you should start. Let’s create a new writer lexicon!


*****

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Want to be the first to know about upcoming Jungle happenings? Sign up for the Our Lost Jungle Newsletter for updates, contest alerts, and more! Sign up here, or use the link at the top of the right column!

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Check out the six Our Lost Jungle Submit-O-Rama Challenge!:

14 October 2013

connectivity: challenging the online literary journal stigma

Connectivity: Benefits of Online Literary Journals
Once upon a time in the publishing industry, online literary journals were considered the ugly ducklings of publication options. They were often seen as the “last resort” option for those simply desperate to be published somewhere … anywhere. Often hosted on personal blogs, online journaling venues, and so forth, many publishers weren't willing to take them seriously, and many authors were afraid to give them their support.

Fortunately, things changed, thanks largely to two factors: the growing place of the internet in society, and the dwindling monetary support for print journals. With literary journals and magazines operating on smaller and smaller budgets, many big name journals began offering less space in print and more space on their blogs or other online counterparts. Some switched to offering one print edition and multiple online editions. Some made the switch to online only. And suddenly, what was seen as a literary pariah became something of a literary standard.

Some writers—you may even be one of them—still hold online journals as the “lesser” option among print journals. If you’re still debating the merit of online literary journals, here are some points to hopefully tip you a little further in their favor!

1. maximize your exposure

One major benefit of online journal publication is a maximized exposure to you and your work. With print publications, you typically have to rely on other writers or literary supporters buying a subscription to see your work. With online publications, you have the added audience of … anyone with an internet connection. All someone has to do is look up the title of the publication, or your name … or the title of your work … or a phrase that appears in your work. With your work online, readers and future fans are more likely to stumble upon your work.

2. let me google that for you

Added bonus: future publishers can Google you. You might think a publisher doesn’t care about how visible you are online … but we’re in a digital age. Visibility and public exposure have always been an ally of aspiring writers, and publishers are looking for writers who know how to maximize that exposure: not just for the writers themselves, but also for the publisher. The more visible you are, the more other publishers are (sometimes—not always) willing to consider adding your name to their list of published authors!

3. how much is that postage again

With online submissions, postage is free. Forget about having to run to the store for paper, printer ink, envelopes, and stamps. Now you can simply sit at your computer in your jammies and reach out to the wide world of editors. And bonus: response times to online submissions are generally faster than snail mail.

4. and your words lived happily ever after … forever

I recently had a friend move and give away a ton of his literary journals. I have other writer friends who only keep a journal until the next edition comes out. Just think: if this is how writers keep journals, what do you think folks who aren’t huge supporters of literary journals do with them? The fact is, most print journals end up in the recycling bin before they’re a year old. With online journals, you can point readers to your work almost indefinitely. Even if a journal folds and stops publishing, we are in an age of digital “caches” of information (think of the last time you couldn’t access a site regularly but were able to cache an old version of the site). This means your words are out there, if not forever, at least for a very, very long time!

5. “internetional” interactions

Last year I was surprised (and amused) to learn that a large number of viewers for Our Lost Jungle were coming from Europe. When you have an online presence, you’re not just reaching your neighbors. You’re not even limited to people in the same country. An online presence means international exposure, and what I call “internetional” interaction capability: through the internet, you can reach that international audience and engage with them across social, language, and watery borders. Publishing online allows you to create a directory of your writing to share with readers, who can then comment on your work and share it with their friends no matter where they are.

Your Turn: What are your thoughts on online journals? What is your favorite thing about being able to complete the submission process online? Share your thoughts on the benefits—and even drawbacks—of online literary journals and submissions in the comments to continue the conversation!

*****

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Want to be the first to know about upcoming Jungle happenings? Sign up for the Our Lost Jungle Newsletter for updates, contest alerts, and more! Sign up here, or use the link at the top of the right column!

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Check out the six Our Lost Jungle Submit-O-Rama Challenge!:

11 October 2013

a to z presses: h – n

OLJ Submit-O-Rama: A to Z Presses (H - N)
On Fridays throughout the Submit-O-Rama, the focus of Our Lost Jungle will be on great literary journals and presses seeking your work. For folks doing any of the challenges, by the end of the month we will have covered one journal per letter of the alphabet! That means, if you submit to all of the journals covered in the A to Z series, you’ll have submitted at least 26 times! This week’s A to Z Presses series post covers “H” through “N.”

(Note: Some of the journals in this edition only accept mailed submissions. Be sure to carefully read each journal’s submission guidelines and process instructions! As a few of them suggest, you may also want to check out at least one archived copy to get a feel for the journal before submitting.)


h.o.w. journal

About: H.O.W. Journal is “an art & literary journal that publishes an eclectic mix of today’s prominent writers and artists alongside upcoming talents with an effort to raise money and awareness for the approximately 163 million children throughout the world that have been orphaned. The publication features works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry as well as visual arts.” H.O.W. pays for publication rights ($100 minimum for written submissions), and requests (but does not demand outright) a $5 donation payable to Helping Orphans Worldwide; all submission proceeds directly support the orphanage H.O.W. is working with at the time!

Website: http://www.howjournal.com/submit-guidelines.html#writers 

image

About: Image Journal “speaks with equal force and relevance to the secular culture and to the church. By finding fresh ways for the imagination to embody religious truth and religious experience, Image challenges believers and nonbelievers alike.” Image asks writers who wish to submit to first read the journal to “get an idea for the type and range of material we publish.”

Website: http://imagejournal.org/page/about/submission-guidelines

the journal

About: “The award-winning literary journal of The Ohio State University, The Journal contributes significantly toward the literary landscape of Ohio and the nation. The Journal seeks to identify and encourage emerging writers while also attracting the work of established writers to create a diverse and compelling magazine. The Journal has recently had poems reproduced in the Best American Poetry anthology.”

Website: http://thejournalmag.org/submit

knee-jerk

About: Knee-Jerk is a journal of fiction and creative nonfiction. The hope of the journal is “to evoke conversations that bring everyone a little closer together, that make the literary world a little smaller. And a little bigger.”

Website: http://kneejerkmag.com/contact-submit/

the lascaux review

About: The Lascaux Review “provides a showcase for emerging and established writers and artists. Lascaux (rhymes with ‘Bordeaux’) conducts annual contests in fiction, poetry, and flash fiction.”

Website: http://lascauxreview.com/submissions/

the macguffin

About: The MacGuffin is a national literary magazine published three times a year. The mission of The MacGuffin is “to encourage, support, and enhance the literary arts in the Schoolcraft College community, the region, the state, and the nation. By fulfilling its role as a national literary journal, The MacGuffin brings national and international prestige to Schoolcraft College. It is our main vehicle for our contribution to literary excellence.”

Website: www.schoolcraft.edu/macguffin/submit.asp

nano fiction

About: NANO Fiction is a journal of flash fiction (300 words or fewer). The journal is looking for work “that experiments with form while still balancing narrative. We are interested in stories we haven’t read before,  stories we think we are tired of reading–but are told in such in a new way that we gain fresh insights, writing remain attentive to language and lyricism without abandoning story, and work that surprise us–but not by using a trick ending. We also are looking for writing that takes unexpected perspectives on commonly-seen stories.”

Website: http://nanofiction.org/submit

Good Luck!

*****

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Want to be the first to know about upcoming Jungle happenings? Sign up for the Our Lost Jungle Newsletter for updates, contest alerts, and more! Sign up here, or use the link at the top of the right column!

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Check out the six Our Lost Jungle Submit-O-Rama Challenge!:

10 October 2013

rejection: what are the odds?

Rejection: "What Are the Odds?"
This post was supposed to go up Wednesday morning, but had to be put on hold. In part because I ran out of time to write it … and in part because I was trying to figure out the best way to put “bad news” in a “nice package.” Then I realized that what I’m about to tell you isn’t bad news. So here it is:

Since we’re doing things by the numbers this week, I think it’s time we play a little math with the topic nobody wants to talk about when it comes to making submissions: Rejection.

Here are three numbers for your consideration:

780, 9, 1.15%

Are you ready to hear what these numbers represent? “No,” you say? Well, we’re going to talk about it anyway.

Taking figures from some of the top literary journals out there, most journals are receiving, on average, 780 submissions a month. (That figure is rounded down.) On average, those same journals are accepting around 9 pieces for publication. (If you think that’s bad … that figure is rounded up.) That means that of the hundreds to thousands of submissions journals receive, only about 1.15% (or, if it makes you feel better, 1-2%) are accepted.

Now, there are a few ways to take this information.

1. “may the odds be [never] in your favor”


The way most submitters look at this is as a negative. If you’re just one swimmer in a pool of 780-plus fish, you’d better hope your fins are strong. Chances are, there’s a bigger, better fish ahead of you, and that’s the fish whose name you’ll be seeing in print. Meanwhile, with these kinds of odds, the closest you’ll come to seeing your name in print is having the editors condescend to actually using your name in addressing the rejection slip. If you're thinking this way, the question basically becomes: Why bother submitting at all?

2. “you’re one in a million, once in a lifetime”

Here’s how I think you should be taking this information: It’s business, not personal. (Yes, I’ve jumped from Miss Congeniality to The Godfather …) First of all, if the odds are this stacked against you, they’re also this stacked against 98-99% of everybody else submitting! You can snub your nose as much as you like at that “choice” 1% that makes it, but you know what they call the literary journal that accepts everybody? Nonexistent. (If you want to see what that literary journal might look like, go here.) A rejection doesn’t mean you’re the one person who didn’t make it: it means you’re one of over 700 people who didn’t make it, and in only some of those cases is it because the work wasn’t “good enough” … In most of those cases, there just wasn’t room. This time. Which means there needs to be a next time you submit. Most of the time, it’s business, not personal.

Ready for seconds? As much as we all like to think it would feel great to get picked first every single time, we also all know that can’t happen. But doesn’t that make that one time you get picked first even better? (If you say “No” to this … just don’t say no, okay?) Treat submissions the same way. Rather than dwelling in a rejection (which, by the way, is a horrible name for it anyway: let's start calling it, "a journal's inability to accept your piece at this time"), try dwelling on your acceptances! Linger in that warm glow ... even when it's followed or preceded by the cool chill of a "no thank you."

And for dessert, consider this: the numbers really aren’t this badly stacked against you! Let’s make the number smaller: out of a pool of submissions, you have a 1% chance of being selected for publication. Instead of considering 9 out of 780, let’s just make it a 1 out of 100 chance. Raise your hand if you’ve submitted 100 times without receiving an acceptance.

I’ll wait.

The fact is, that’s probably not going to happen to you. So stop worrying because you’ve sent out 20 submissions and received 20 rejections. I’ll tell you a secret: I once sent out over 30 submissions in a month and got one acceptance from the bunch. Ask me how much I cared. About 0.001%. Seriously! I'm not saying that the "rejections" didn't sting (and I won't promise that at some point they'll stop stinging). But I've learned that the submission process isn't about the rejections: it's about the acceptances. And if you spend too much time weeping over rejections, even the acceptances will start to lose their sweet flavor.

So please: enjoy the process. Relish the acceptances and relinquish the rejections to the domain in which they belong: the "try again" pile for the work, and the "circular filing cabinet" for the rejection slips. Only start weeping when you’re up to 99 submissions without a single acceptance. Until then … the odds are still in your favor!


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Check out the six Our Lost Jungle Submit-O-Rama Challenge!:

07 October 2013

size matters: submissions by the numbers

Size Matters: Submissions by the Numbers
When it comes to submitting your work, size definitely matters. How long, or short, is too long, or too short, of a piece to submit? How many pieces should you submit at once? How can you “cut the fat” from your work to make it suitable for publishers? Sometimes in publishing, length can make all the difference between what gets published and what gets ignored. Here’s a quick look at the submission process “by the numbers”:

0: This is the number of your submissions that should have single-word titles. According to many (if not most) of the editors, professors, and publishers I’ve spoken to, a single-word title suggests that the work is either a cliché piece or that the author wasn’t familiar or confident enough in their own work to give the title more thought. Single-word titles are also considered “soap opera-ish” (think of the modern television shows with one-word titles: Scandal, Revenge, etc.).

1: This is both how many prose pieces a journal will consider at a time and approximately the maximum page length of each poem you should submit. Trying to submit more than one story, or poems that go to or beyond two pages, is tricky business. With each prose submission coming in at 2,500 – 5,000 words, it’s hard enough to get an editor to consider one of your pieces … let alone three. While the number of poetry-only journals is on the rise, the number of poems being published in cross-genre journals continues to shrink; more and more often the number of prose pieces accepted becomes a consideration when it comes to poetry submissions, which means the longer your piece is (and the more pages it takes from potential prose work), the less likely it is to be published.

3: This is the minimum number of poems you should be submitting in your submission packet, unless otherwise noted (some journals set the limit lower, with the rare journal limiting you to one poem per submission). Less than this tends to suggest that you don’t really have much in your “poetfolio” worth sharing … which can sometimes make an editor wonder why they should consider you at all.

5: This is the maximum number of previous publication credits to include in your cover letter. Oh yes, the length of your cover letter can also be a factor in how long a journal considers your work. And if you’re including more than five previous publications in your list of accomplishments, some editors will start to think that a) you’re overconfident in your awesomeness (while it may be well-earned confidence, it still comes off poorly) or b) you don’t know when to shut up … which can give them a negative impression of your work before they even read a single word. This also tends to be the maximum number of poems you should submit in a submission packet, unless otherwise noted by a publisher.

6: This is often the number of months you should expect to wait before really worrying about your submission again. While this has little to do with the actual work you’re sending out, here’s a tip from the publishing industry: impatient authors are annoying. If you start querying after just a month of your work being on an editor’s desk, you may irk him or her into associating your name on a submission with “I don’t want to deal with him/her” … which may lead to a semi (or very)-biased rejection. If you query too much too often, that editor may reject you just to get you to leave her or him alone. Be happy if you hear back in two months. Feel free (in most cases) to query after three. You can begin to pester at six … but delicately.

10-15: No, we’re not talking about a prison sentence … This is the approximately length a submission should not exceed in pages. For poetry, if your submission is going beyond 10 pages, you’re pretty much excluding yourself from publication consideration when the hefty pile of pages hits the poetry editor’s desk. Remember, three to five poems per submission, approximately one page per poem: if you’re up to ten pages, either your poems are too long or you’re submitting too much work. For prose, while many editors allow lengths between 2,500 – 5,000 words, the magic number tends to be around 3,500 words, or 15 pages double-spaced.

Your Turn: Have you noticed any “magic numbers” when it comes to the submission process? How many submissions does it usually take before you get your first acceptance? What’s the biggest number of rejections you’ve received before or without an acceptance? Share your experiences with “submissions by the numbers” in the comments, and let other writers learn from your wisdom!


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Want to stay connected? I invite you to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Please also sign up for the free email updates from Our Lost Jungle!

Want to be the first to know about upcoming Jungle happenings? Sign up for the Our Lost Jungle Newsletter for updates, contest alerts, and more! Sign up here, or use the link at the top of the right column!

***** 

Check out the six Our Lost Jungle Submit-O-Rama Challenge!:

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