Lots of columns and articles have been written to enlighten the novice writer on the dark depths and mysteries of the slush pit. Things like formatting, cover letters, and the like. While the basics are important (please, we do want cover letters), one aspect gets a bit overlooked: know your market.
In the past, this meant buying sample issues. Well, you can still do that or visit your local library, of course (and it's not a bad idea), but nowadays you've also got Twitter, Facebook and blogs, all of which can clue you into the preferences of the editors in question, provides helpful hints and the like.
Markets have specific personalities. Weird Tales is not the same as Clarkesworld. Learning how to differentiate between them – and knowing the tastes of the people at the helm – provides you with an advantage over the rest of the writers. You'd be surprised how many writers submit to us without bothering to read the part where we talk about “Lovecraftian” fiction (hint: we are not related to erotica at all). It's like matchmaking gone wrong.
Yes, you can figure out a publication's personality by the guidelines and table of contents, but you can also get an inside scoop (and the kind of stuff that doesn't appear on the submissions page) with social media.
For our anthologies (and occasionally, our triannual online fiction issues), I do some blogging at my personal website about what we are seeing in the slush and what we want more or less of. I may also Tweet about it. It's useful to know, for a writer, if there are already twenty zombie cowboys in the pile or that no stories set in Japan have been received and we need some more. Following editors or publishers provides valuable nuggets of information that you can't get on Duotrope.com.
I'm not saying you should follow everyone, but if you want to sell to a certain market, it's a good idea to point your antenna in that direction. It certainly helps us get a richer submissions pile.
I know not all editors blog or have a Twitter account – and maybe you're not the social media type – but if they do, I strongly recommend you follow the ones you're interested in working with. Seriously, we don't mind.
Another tip (and this doesn't apply to everyone, but it does to me): I don't mind if you send me an e-mail or Tweet (I'd rather do a Tweet) asking for clarification on submission guidelines or to know if something might fit into the slush pile. But it's one e-mail. Don't make it 20 questions and don't keep e-mailing me with question after question. Don't contact me if it's in the submission guidelines and do your research: See if I've talked about that point before.
One thing you shouldn't e-mail me about: rejections. A form rejection means just that: it's a form rejection. Ninety-eight percent of all rejections we send out are. It's nothing personal. E-mailing me to ask about personal feedback slows me down and you most likely will just get another form e-mail. On the other hand, if the e-mail is to complain about the rejection...well, that doesn't work either.
With that said, don't be afraid to connect with editors, whether it's by following their Tweets or interacting with a short little message every once in a while. In the end, it's better for both of us if it's clear story number 21 on the zombie cowboys is going to be a hard sell.
Silvia, that's some great advice. Thank you so much for sharing. It's nice to get into the mind of the editor to see what you're thinking. I'm sure everyone appreciates your insight.
Historical Lovecraft, a unique anthology blending historical fiction with horror, features 26 tales spanning centuries and continents. This eclectic volume takes the readers through places as varied as Laos, Greenland, Peru, and the Congo, and from antiquity until the 20th century, pushing the envelope of Lovecraftian lore. William Meikle's inquisitor tries to unravel the truth during a very hostile questioning. Jesse Bullington narrates the saga of a young Viking woman facing danger and destruction. E. Catherine Tobler stops in Ancient Egypt, where Pharaoh Hatshepsut receives an exquisite and deadly gift. Albert Tucher discovers that the dead do not remain silent in 10th century Rome. These are tales that reimagine history and look into the past through a darker glass. Tales that show evil has many faces and reaches through the centuries. Tales that will chill your heart.
Join us in our journey through horror and time, if you dare.
Sounds very intriguing. Where can readers find this anthology?
Purchase Link: http://www.innsmouthfreepress.com/?page_id=10930
Author: (anthology) edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Paula R. Stiles
Published By: Innsmouth Free Press
Published Date: April 20, 2011
Price: $3.99 E-book/ $14.99 Paperback
Available in: E-book, Paperback
Silvia, I appreciate you stopping by. Thanks so much. You had some great advice. Hope everyone can stick around to visit for a while.