We’ve been at this long enough now that, occasionally, I get questions like, “How do I get published in your magazine?” The easy answer to this question is, “Send us something that doesn’t suck.” But the real answer is more complicated. Thankfully, there are hundreds of articles on the Internet about how to get published in a literary and arts magazine, and I’m not going to rehash those points here. No, today, I’m going to show you the six easy steps to NOT getting published in our magazine—or any other, quite frankly.
Six Easy Steps to Publishing Failure
Step 1: Don’t read the magazine you’re submitting to.
Traditional advice is to actually take the time to read past issues of the magazine you’re submitting to. This helps you make sure that the magazine is a good fit for your style, tone, and subject matter. But you’re a busy, busy genius with a romantic sci-fi psychological thriller set in a suburban neighborhood that’s stuck in the 1950s—your brilliant work transcends genres, and any magazine would love to have it! So go ahead and submit it to “Pets Weekly.” You’ve got a dog in one of the scenes, and once they read it, they’ll be so impressed that they’ll change their entire format just to give you a monthly column. SUCCESS!
Step 2: Submission guidelines are for pussies. Ignore them.
You’ve heard it time and time again: read and follow submission guidelines. But you’re an artist, man. You don’t follow the rules. You’re a rebel—that’s, like, your whole shtick. So their submission guidelines say they don’t accept electronic submissions—then why do they have an email address? Silly publishers. Forget snail mail—just shoot them an email, wow them with a kickass cover letter, and they’re sure to make an exception. Hey, speaking of cover letters…
Step 3: Use your cover letter to show that you are funny/weird/awkward/pompous/racist.
One of your friends told you not to bother putting much in your cover letter, because most publishers don’t actually read them. Well, fuck that. You’re going to MAKE them read your cover letter. You’re going to write some brilliant prose in a barely-legible font so they HAVE to look at it. You’re going to intrigue them with your description of how you’re a lone wolf artist, someone who’s got a sense of humor so unique that nobody else finds it funny. You’re going to tell them about how Shakespeare was a hack and monkeys could write better than David Foster Wallace. And they’re going to LOVE it.
Step 4: Don’t waste time revising your story—much like what you left in the toilet this morning, it is perfect just the way it came out.
Look, let’s face it. You are a writer, that mythical beast who comes up with brilliant stories and shares them with the world for fun and profit. You don’t have time for revision, and besides, your first draft was perfect. You even ran spell-check on it, and it only found two errors! Other, less talented writers may need to revise their work to make it publishable, but you, my friend, are a freaking Mozart of words: everything that comes out of you is genius. Plus, you’ve got this great idea for a character study of a guy who works at McDonald’s, but dreams of becoming a famous writer—no use wasting time revising the story you just finished when you’ve got an even better one waiting in the wings of your imagination!
Step 5: Submit your work to as many places as humanly possible all at the same time.
Because your work is so wonderful, you know the first person who sees it is going to accept it. But why send it to just one magazine for consideration? Who are you to deny ALL of the magazines the opportunity to look at what you’ve created? Go ahead: send it to all of them, all at the same time, even if they specifically say they don’t accept simultaneous submissions. And even better—don’t tell them it’s a simultaneous submission. That way, when it inevitably gets picked up by Atlantic Monthly, you can send all the other schmucks an email saying, “BOOYAH! Off the market, bitches. IN YO FACE.”
Step 6: When the publisher sends you edits, tell them to fuck off.
Edits?!? To your brilliant piece of literature? That’s like giving Tom Wolfe fashion advice. If a publisher dares to approach you with proposed edits—even if those edits actually make your piece better—do the only logical thing: tell them your piece is awesome as it is, and they can either publish it unchanged or go screw themselves. Because nothing says “successful writer” like alienating the very people who can help you achieve that success!
So there you have it. If you too would like to fail in publishing, simply follow these six easy steps, and you’ll be not getting published in no time at all!
Without further ado, let me introduce you to the folks who decided not to follow this advice and found a home in this issue.
Our Editor’s Choice for this month goes to the short story, Confluence, by Brandon Madden. It’s very difficult to describe anything about this story without giving it away, but I can say one thing: this story will leave you questioning the very nature of what you think is reality. It’s an excellent story, and we’re very proud to feature it in this issue.
CONTENTS OF ISSUE 9:
Brandon Madden — “Confluence” (Editor’s Choice)
Sean Padraic McCarthy — “Teeth”
Caleb Sarvis — “Thoreau in a Phone Booth”
Sushant Supriye — “The Fifth Direction”
M.M. Adjarian — Sister Moon
“Twenty Questions with author Alysha Kaye”
W. Jack Savage — Three Images
David Klugman — The Prison of Forgotten Dreams
Jim Pollock— Girl Walking Her Pinata
Photography by Lis Anna-Langston
The Waiting Room, by Alysha Kaye
One Kick, by Chelsea Cain
One last note: get out your calendars, because we’ve got two dates for you to mark down. The first is Halloween, when we’ll have something special coming out by Strange Fish author and artist N. Piatkoski. The second is December 8, when we will release Issue 10. Issue 10 is going to be a big one. It’s where we will celebrate our one-year anniversary, and we’ll have both old and new contributors there for the party.
In the meantime, enjoy Issue 9, and remember: it’s easy to not get published, and nobody ever succeeded by doing what’s easy.
—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 10/6/2014