Posts Tagged ‘publishers’


Editor Empathy

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

I recently started working as a volunteer editor for the online flash fiction magazine Flash Me (don’t worry, it’s not as sketchy as it sounds!). I saw an ad for the positon on someone’s blog (my apologies to whoever posted it, I wish I could give you credit!), clicked over to the magazine site, and was pleased to see that it was an ezine I was already familiar with. I’d read their stories on several occasions, and thought it would be a good fit. What a great way to earn some editorial experience! Plus, it’s a paying market for the authors — and the zine has been in publication since 2003 — which, to me, screams “credibility!”

Good for the resume, good for the experience.

That said, what have I learned in my first 3 weeks as a slush reader?

  • There’s a lot of potential out there. There are a lot of stories that are almost good enough, and you can see the raw talent… often it just hasn’t been refined and polished yet. A little more experience, a little more practice, and you can sense when a writer has the potential to someday shine.
  • There are limitless ideas. I never know what I’m going to see when I open up a new submission, since the title often reveals very little about the piece. However, most ideas have been done before, and there is a real danger of writing obviously derivative work. Writers must be careful to give their own spin to an oft-used idea, or else the story will simply come off as sloppy.
  • Formatting is everything. When I open up a document that’s 1000 words of narrative without any dialogue, paragraph breaks, or scene changes, I groan inside. And that gives you 2 strikes already, in my book.
  • Authors need to read guidelines & know their markets. PLEASE. Please. I’m shocked when I read something that’s submitted and is obviously an experimental piece. When was the last time you saw an experimental piece in Flash Me? Read the entire guidelines before submitting. Check if you’re actually submitting to the right place for your work. PLEASE.
  • Authors need to PROOFREAD. I’m even more shocked when something comes in with spelling errors, formatting errors, grammatical errors, crude sentence structure… and so on… and so forth… I simply don’t understand how people can submit something that’s full of errors and expect their work to be taken seriously.
  • Authors need to do their research. Whether it’s location, a specific situation, a disease, a creature… I don’t care what, but please know what you’re talking about before you make that specific thing integral to your story. There are many, many resources today to make you an expert on your ‘thing’ if it isn’t something you already know about. It’s also important to know your stuff on specific topics because you can seriously offend someone through your own ignorance if you don’t do your research.
  • It’s a real joy — and I do mean real, no sarcasm here — to read something so good that it feels like a breath of fresh air. It makes all the time spent worth it. I mean that.

While it’s only been 3 weeks, I have to say that I’m beginning to empathize with editors in bigger magazine/book publishing houses. If a small market like ours has these ups & downs, how much more extreme must it be for them?

Needless to say, when I submit my work anywhere in the future, I’ll be reading the guidelines extra carefully, and researching the market even more closely. I think sometimes we as writers get so caught up in the creation part of our work that we skim over or rush the selling, perhaps without even realizing what we’re doing.

So, I’d like to thank Jennifer at Flash Me, the Editor-in-Chief, for allowing me to become a part of her fun & exciting publication. I encourage you to head over to the website and read some of the stories from the last issue (new issue published Oct.31!) — I particularly recommend ‘Survivalist’ and ‘Going Home’.

Question: When you submit, how carefully do you read the guidelines & research the market? Are there specific things you know you skim over because you don’t like doing them, or are you a stickler for detail?

Tags: , , , , ,


Jumping on the Bandwagon

   Posted by: Faith    in Everything Else

Have you heard? Been reading your copy of ‘Shelf Awareness’ e-newsletter every morning, if you’re a librarian or bookseller? Done a Google search for YA publishers lately?

If you haven’t kept up with what’s going on, it’s pretty big news: Harlequin is jumping on the YA bandwagon with a new imprint, called Harlequin Teen. The website isn’t complete yet, and there are only 3 titles officially announced so far, but this is big stuff. With the popularity of teen/young adult fiction, I suppose it was only a matter of time before everyone jumped on the bandwagon… and for ‘unagented’ authors like myself, a new imprint such as this is a hynotizing, flashing neon sign.

Before you jump out of your seat in outrage, thinking of all the horrible possibilities for teen-directed Harlequin romances, I’ll remind you that in the past decade, Harlequin has branched out create a new image. Yes, they still sell smut, but they also have imprints for Christian romance, fantasy/paranormal fiction, chick lit, historical romance, and now… teen fiction.

For this imprint, they’re looking for:

“Fresh, authentic teen fiction featuring extraordinary characters and extraordinary stories set in contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, science-fiction and historical worlds.”

Hmm. Interesting. The first book in the imprint comes out July 29th, called My Soul to Take, about a teenage bean sidhe (ie. banshee). Now that sounds like an interesting concept! (I wish I’d thought of it… hrrmph.) To help promote this first novel, the author is offering an 80-page e-book prequel for free on the book’s website – which I plan to read. If it’s not half bad, I plan to pick up the book when it’s released, and see how that is. If it’s not half bad as well, I plan to wait for the August & September releases, read those, and see what they’re like.

The good thing about Harlequin imprints is that they take unsolicited manuscripts, and many a writer has begun their career with Harlequin. In the past, that’s meant writing smut and moving upward, but thanks to their new imprints, that isn’t always the case…

Then again, it’s still a publisher known for the “romances” it publishes. Would I be comfortable, morally speaking, being published by a place like this? That’s a question only I can answer for myself (and you for yourself), but it’s something worth considering in the process.

At the very least, it’s a new opportunity to think about, pray about, and examine carefully. Many changes in the publishing industry have recently been viewed as negative – small presses closing, imprints shutting down – and it’s easy to forget all the new and exciting things that are happening. This could be one of them! And I, for one, will be watching closely.

Tags: , , ,