Submission is a scary word to some writers. Well, most of us, really; that’s one reason we use a different word in the Amherst Writers & Artists practices. We call the act of sending a story up for manuscript response, or potential publication, offering our writing. To submit is such a hierarchical act.

But act we must, if we expect someone else to buy the paper, ink, staples and distributor trucks. So we imagine a literary magazine editor as the ultimate gatekeeper, impossible to please. It might be simpler than it seems, to a point. So much of what a lit mag editor gets in the mail breaks easy-to-follow rules.

Or so goes the rant from NYC editor Felicia C. Sullivan (left) sporting an MFA from Columbia University. Pushcart Prize nominee, fellowships from Tin House magazine & SLS Literary Seminars. The works, the real deal, with books written and on the way. Sullivan founded the literary journal Small Spiral Notebook. A link from Thomas Hopkins (see yesterday’s entry) pointed out her rant about the flotsam she found in her submissions mailbox after a summer break:

I become quite angry with some people (coupled with those culprits who submit to the online journal and you know who you are wretched people who psychologically toy with my emotions) for the following reasons:

Please, oh, please send me your 75 page tome. Please send me your entire pile of poems written on scrap paper plus a few short stories thrown in for good measure. Please single space everything, submit in Comic Sans font, please draw little pictures on your submission. Because us editors make up these guidelines for fun, of course.

Please don’t think that since you went to Columbia, we will readily accept your work … Don’t name-drop, it’s ghetto. Same thing if you went to IOWA, edit the ROCK STAR LITERARY journal review, or any other fancy-shmancy affiliation

Did I mention the cover letters that start with “This story sucks” or “I wrote this at 3AM drunk” or “You will probably hate this but…” You must really be self-loathing.

Did I mention the submission where the writer asked me to get them an agent?

You can read the whole rant at Felicia’s blog. Just don’t do this stuff. It will spoil your chances that your good writing can create for you. If Iowa or Columbia won’t impress a lit mag editor, it might really be about the writing after all.

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