Some Thoughts on Submitting to an Anthology

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 • 5 Comments on Some Thoughts on Submitting to an Anthology

I am knee deep in reading and rereading anthology submissions.  This is both the fun part and the hardest part.  I received over 130 stories for this collection.  I can only choose 20.  I have narrowed it down to around 38 stories and I still have to cut that by half.  Hard, I tell you.  Here are a few things I’m seeing that I thought I would share for those of you who are submitting to anthologies:

—Be sure to put your

name

on your story.  This seems like an obvious one, but I have received at least 15 stories with no name on the actual attachment.  Once that story is downloaded to my computer, the only way I can find out who wrote it is to go back to my e-mail and search for the story title.  A bit of an annoyance.  It won’t deter me from choosing a fabulous story, but I greatly appreciate it when the process isn’t made more difficult. 

—Put your name at the top of your story, not at the bottom.  A few authors seem to prefer to put their name and contact information at the end of their submission.  Why??  I prefer (as do most editors, I would think) to see all of the pertinent information at the top of the first page.

—Be sure to put your real name AND your pseudonym on your submission, not just in your e-mail.  Please.

—If an editor requests a specific format—say 12 pt. font and Times New Roman—do

not

submit a story that is 14 pt. font and Comic Sans.  Yeah, it happened.

—Do not submit a story after the call for submissions has closed and pretend you did not know when the call closed.  I’m much more inclined to accept a submission that is a few days late if you’re honest with me.  Life happens—god knows it’s happening to me right now—and sometimes a fabulous story trumps a due date.  But don’t lie to me.

—Make sure the title on your submission matches the title on your e-mail and the file name.  I received two stories where the titles did not match the file names.  I’m already pretty scatterbrained, please don’t make it harder on me.

—Please do not submit a story that contains incestuous elements and insist that it doesn’t meet the definition of incest.  As far as I’m concerned, family members in the same room during sexual activity—even if they’re not having sex with each other—is incest.  As far as I’m concerned, non-blood related family members (step-parents and step-siblings) having sex with each other is incest.  Do not argue these points with me.

—If an editor requests a specific file format—say Microsoft Word .doc—do not submit your story in some other format.  If I can’t download it, I can’t read it.

—Ditto pasting your story into your e-mail.  I’m simply not willing to take the time to copy, paste and format your story correctly.  That is your job.

—If you are writing a story with a particular theme—say fairy tales—be sure to give your story a very unique title.  I received several stories with the same titles and had to rename them.  You do not want your story to accidentally get overwritten by the next “Cinderella” I receive, do you?

—Likewise, if you’re writing a story for a particular theme, you can probably safely discard the first idea you have because there are likely several other people who had the same idea.  I know this is a hard lesson to remember and I’m as guilty as anyone, but the reality is that several very good stories will be rejected from this anthology simply because I cannot include too many stories based on the same fairy tale.  That hurts me as much as it hurts you.  Sometimes the best stories are the ones that are not only well-written but also push the boundaries of the theme.

—Do not submit a story that is unfinished in the hopes that I’ll like it so much I’ll ask you to finish it.  Do not submit a story that is wildly outside the word count.  564 words is

not “slightly under” the minimum 1500 words.  Likewise, 7300 words is not

“a little bit longer” than the maximum 4000 words.  Do not submit multiple copies of the same story because you’ve “edited it to make it better.”  Submit a clean, final copy and be done with it.

Do not submit a story that has absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the anthology

.  This will only make my head explode and that’s not really fair to the other writers who actually followed the guidelines, now is it?

—Should your story be rejected, do not ask me for feedback.  If you want a critique of your story, take a class or join a writers’ group.  Any feedback I give is entirely at my discretion and will not be based on your request.  I simply don’t have the time to provide feedback unless I’m feeling particularly motivated by a piece.

—Do not tell me your life story.  Be succinct in your cover letter.  Keep your bio short and sweet and focus on your writing credits and maybe one or two pertinent personal details.  I do not need to know that you broke your leg last week, that you drive a Ford pickup (unless your story is about a Ford pickup), that you’re fighting a custody battle with your ex or that you are suffering from a wicked hangover.  (No joke.) 

—Write a fabulous story and

most

of these minor annoyances won’t matter at all.  Seriously.  (Except the one about incest.  Seriously.)

Posted by Kristina in Musings
  • Erobintica says:

    Kristina,

    These are great guidelines, especially for us fairly new folks. Most of this should be common knowledge if you’ve ever submitted anything anywhere, but there are some differences.

    I know that I submitted (not to this call – I’ve had a very unwriterly summer) a story that I left my name off (and cringed after when I realized it) – and part of the reason was I went on autopilot.  Most of my submissions in the past have been of poetry and most places do not want your name on each page (my understanding is so that the poems stand alone when being looked at – though we all know that certain names get accepted more easily) – they want a listing of the titles in the cover letter.

    Anyhow, great post and I’ve bookmarked it so that I can easily find it in the future.

  • Oh, I definitely did one of those. Name on submission? Yep. At the top? Yep. Real name there too?

    Nooooo!

    Sorry, Kristina. But thank you, for putting up these comments. A few of them are things you don’t even think about until you realise what an editor has to do- backtracking to your email, and so on. Must be a nightmare to get seven Cinderellas with no names and only pen names and files names not matching up!

  • Kristina says:

    Erobintica ~ Absolutely, there are differences in submission guidelines depending on what you’re submitting and to whom.  I think there are “standards” in each instance and I was speaking to the short story anthology market (specifically erotica).  This wasn’t intended as a vent, but more as helpful hints for erotica writers.  We all forget something sometimes—and I’m as guilty as anyone, especially when I’m pushing up against a deadline!

    (Oh, and in one instance I received a story that had neither a name nor a title! I had to laugh at that one. wink )

  • Kristina says:

    Charlotte ~  You know, you jut outed yourself because I didn’t even notice in your case!  Probably because I “know” who you are. 

    On a few submissions the issue was that I don’t know the the authors personally and was having to try to determine which was the real name and which was the pseudonym.  Yikes!

    And, seriously, I’m not complaining the least.  I love this job and the little headaches go along with it. But if I can make it easier in any way—for the writers and for myself—I’m going to try!

  • Hee hee- I don’t mind outing myself! Always better if a writer owns their mistakes, I feel. But it’s good to know that it didn’t cause you any trouble! Thank God you do know my real name.

    And exactly, about making it easier for writers. I didn’t think of your blog as complaining or venting at all- I’m always glad when you and RKB, amongst other editors, take the time to say specifically: look, here is where you might have already, or may go wrong in the future. It just saves everybody time.

    And it helps me not worry about the little things, next time. If I’ve got some idea in my head of the details that irritate editors, I don’t worry that’s why I’m about to be rejected. Always better to have two or three reasons why you might be rejected – too many stories like yours, not quite good enough, didn’t fit with the antho – than eight million.

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