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September 2006

September 2006; School

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  • Healthy Green Artists:
    Can't spell 'Paint' without P-A-I-N
  • Myths and Symbols:
    The Tree of the Thunder Gods
  • Behind the Art:
    Caring for Your Pens and Nibs
  • Wombat Droppings:
    Painting Surfaces
  • EMG News:
    September: School

    Features

  • A Few Things to Consider When Publishing to Magazines
  • Moon Glow: A Watercolor Tutorial
  • Writing for Comics
  • Collecting References
  • Absolute Matte Walkthrough

    Fiction

  • Fiction: Countess

    Reviews

  • Movie: Snakes on a Plane


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  • A Few Things to Consider When Publishing to Magazines
    by Audrey Wildhagen

    So. Youíve finished your poem, flash fiction, essay, or short story of choice. Youíve polished every word, burned the midnight oil scouring the thing for grammar errors, and gained the approval of the few private beta readers you confide in. Congratulations! The journey is half over. Time to publish!

    This can be a daunting task, especially if youíve never submitted anything before. Separation anxiety is quite normal. The long process of choosing the right magazine, adhering to its submission guidelines, and making sure you donít stick your foot in your mouth by breaking any etiquette laws can be very overwhelming! It is something that takes a lot of nerve, a lot of patience, and a thick hide. Fortunately, publishing is something that becomes more familiar the more you do it. Keep it up and youíll find the rewards are worth itóthereís a wonderful satisfaction in knowing the editors are beginning to recognize your work out of the billions upon billions of other submissions they receive. You will carve a nice little niche for yourself, and the publishing process will become easier.

    Letís begin by figuring out how to choose the right magazine.

    The best way to do this is to read. Order subscriptions and raid your local library and bookstore for anything that looks interesting. This helps you doublyónot only does it introduce you to journals that might have otherwise gone overlooked, but it also gives you a good idea of what the editors are looking for. Besides, it makes them feel good that youíre reading their magazineóit shows that youíre interested and willing put aside time and money for their organization.

    Also, join writing communities, blogs, and critique groupsóevery once in awhile someone might direct you to a magazine or writing contest that you might not have heard of.

    Definitely check out your local Writersí Guild, if you have one. Not only will joining give you an opportunity to attend workshops and mingle with other writers, but you might end up meeting an agent or editor who would take interest in your work. Writersí conventions may be a little expensive, but the rewards are worth it.

    If youíre looking to publish online, sometimes the easiest thing to do is to just hunt around Google and see what pops up. (Some searches are more legit than others. Choose your keywords wisely!) Even if you donít find anything that seems promising, you might end up linked to a place that does.

    If youíd rather send it through the mail, thatís fine too. You can find many publishers browsing in bookstores or in libraries. Again, even if you donít find anything that looks interestingótry looking in the back of the magazine. You might find advertisements there that are more similar to what youíre looking for.

    Whether youíre looking online or off, keep deadlines in mind as well. There are magazines that publish weekly and magazines that publish yearly. Still more only publish during the summer months or during the fall. Save yourself some time and look for the kind that have deadlines within your relative timeframeóotherwise youíll end up swimming in journals whose deadlines have already passed. Donít hesitate to save any magazines you find that have deadlines in the distant future, thoughóeven if itís several months away, it could still be useful!

    A few things to watch out for when journal hunting:

  • Publishing fees. They should be paying you, not the other way around.
  • Any organization that requires you to buy their books or other merchandise before theyíll publish you.
  • Unclear or nonexistent submission guidelines. Also, if you canít find their copyright jargon, donít bother sending anything to them.
  • Unprofessional advertising. Watch out for vague phrasing, unsourced quotes, outrageous claims, and other such nonsense.

    Writer Beware also has a huge list warnings you might find useful.

    Now! Letís say youíve found a legitimate magazine that is practically begging for just what youíre looking to publish. How do you do it? Usually online journals will have an easy-to-find list of clear, specific guidelines regarding what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. This varies from journal to journal.

    Follow these rules down to the letter.

    Some editors will tear up a perfectly good manuscript if the format is wrongóif they ask for asterisk marks instead of italics or ďstraightĒ quotation marks rather than ďcurlyĒ ones, do what they say. Also, some online publications donít accept email submissions. If they tell you this, donít try it anyway. Believe me, the reading process is long and nerve wracking no matter how you send it, and email isnít going to make things go any faster.

    Neglect these rules, and you run the risk of waiting for two months, only to find out your work was rejected thanks to some silly error. Following the rules not only insures that your work will be read, but itís also courteous to the editors involved and generally makes their lives easier. Donít hesitate to ask questions, eitheróitís a rare editor that will mind this, and itís generally better to sound a little silly than it is to find out you made a mistake.

    For those of you wanting to send writing through snail mail, here are some basic guidelines to follow:

  • Your first page should not have a page number. Include your contact information first in the upper lefthand corner: name, address, phone number, and email. Below that, put your word count and genre of writing. (This is useful if you submit multiple entries for magazines that publish more than one genre.) Center the title of your piece several spaces below your contact informationónear the middle of the page. This leaves just enough space for your opening paragraph. Make it count!
  • Use a header and footer from page two on. This should have your last name, your title, and page numbers. If your title is a long one, just include an italicized keyword.
  • Bind your work with paperclips or binder clips onlyónever staple anything. Donít bother with notebooks, binders, folders, or title pages: a simple manila envelope should suffice.
  • Donít use fancy fontsóthey can be difficult to read. Unless asked otherwise, double space your work and use Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier fonts in 10 or 12 size.
  • Donít use stationary or paper that is textured or heavy. At the same time, donít use anything that looks too cheap; your run-of-the-mill flimsy printing paper will seem just as unprofessional as the fancy stuff. A simple white paper of medium weight should do nicely.
  • Include a self-addressed stamped envelope (SASE) with your work, or you risk not getting a response. If you want the manuscript sent back to you, include appropriate postage as well as a second manila folder to put it in. If not, a normal envelope with your address on it should work fine.
  • Margins should be 1 inch all around.

    Poetry writers follow mostly the same guidelines with the following exceptions:

  • Use a footer from the first page on including your name, address, phone number, and e-mail.
  • If you have multiple poems, try to submit one poem per page. There is a little room for tinkering with spacing and font size, but donít overdo it.
  • Margins are slightly different: the margin on the left hand side can range from 1.5 to 2 inches depending on the length of your lines.

    Now, suppose youíve already published something and you want to submit it to another magazine as well. Whether or not youíre allowed to do this depends on the publisher. Some will refuse to accept anything thatís been published beforehandóeven if itís just something that was on your own website. Other places will say itís all right to re-submit your articles as long as you mention that the piece was first published under the original magazine. Usually theyíll let you know their views on this somehowóif not in their submission guidelines, then in their advertisements, emails, or in some other way. Asking canít hurt, though!

    One important thing to remember, though: Never, ever submit something to a second publisher when you havenít heard back from the first one yet. Wait for some kind of response first. If itís been months after the reading period has passed and you havenít received anything, it canít hurt to write a note and ask what happened. (Donít write them letters asking them for a response, though, if the reading period is still in progress. They have enough people telling them to hurry.)

    A note on query letters:

    Some online magazines will ask that you provide a short paragraph about yourself. Oftentimes editors just want to see whom theyíre dealing with. Be brief, concise, and professionalóthere is no need to include your life story or every writing accomplishment youíve ever achieved. Try to include facts about yourself that are relevant to the magazine.

    That aside, whether youíre publishing online or off, you are typically not required to submit a query letter in order to get things done. Editors spend enough time reading the piles of submissions they receive; unless you have connections with the journal or a huge reputation, query letters usually arenít needed.

    However, if you do send one out, be careful what you say. Biographies usually arenít necessary unless they ask for one or you have something in your life story thatís amazingly relevant and adds credibility to what youíre writing. Donít mention any self-published works, vanity publications, or online works.

    What is the absolute cardinal sin of query letter writing, you ask? I will tell you! An introduction explaining what you are submitting. This is a no-no. They already know what youíre sending; thereís no need to explain it to them a second time.

    Above all, try to have fun when you publish. This is an adventure! You are taking your writing to new places! Who knows what could happen! If you end up making a mistake or getting rejected for one reason or another, donít get discouraged. Itís not the end of the world, and your reputation will not be forever tarnished by one little blunder or rejection slip. As with anything, this becomes easier with practice!

    Here are some places that might be of help:

    Livejournal Communities:

  • 55_fiction
  • fantasy_scifi
  • grindstone
  • muse_ridden
  • sfandf_writers
  • urbis_writers
  • write_away.

    Magazines:

  • The International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses
  • Poets and Writers Magazine
  • AA Independent Press Guide
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
  • The Authorís Guild

    Good luck!

  • Audrey Wildhagen
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