Speculation on Zahir Journal Rejection Letters

I don’t have to speculate, I know.  Right on time this past week, on the dot of their official submission response time, I got a form rejection letter.  I hope you have better luck in your writing submissions!

Zahir: A Journal of Speculative Fiction

Type of Journal: online, with a annual printed anthology

What They Want:  “well-crafted speculative short fiction stories including but not limited to science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and surrealism. We are especially attracted to stories that are on the literary side and that don’t fit comfortably within the usual genre boundaries” sub-5000 words.

When They Want It:  seems to be rolling submissions, so anytime.

How They Want It: online (pay $2.50) or snail mail to:

Zahir Publishing
315 S. Coast Hwy. 101
Suite U8
Encinitas, CA 92024
(for free)

See more submission guidelines.

Simultaneous Submissions?  Yes.

Multiple Submissions?  No.

Official Submission Response Time:  4-8 weeks

My Personal (rejection) Submission Response Time:  8 weeks, 3 days

Payment:  $10 and a copy of the print anthology

They have an online archive, so consider reading up before submitting.  Good luck and Happy Fourth of July!

Hunting for Undiscovered Publication Paths

As I mentioned earlier, I was slammed with a load of rejection letters this week.  This means that I need to start up the submission process again.  However, I’ve kind of run out of ideas of where to send my writing.  Does anybody have any recommendations for literary journals to submit fiction and creative non-fiction to?  Or a resource that lists submission-accepting publications?  How do you research and discover new literary journals?

On a side note, I did learn about a really neat new boutique publisher of long form non-fiction.  The Atavist only publishes Kindle singles (and the same stories on other e-reader platforms, like the Nook, and iPad).  If you like reading non-fiction stories and journalism that’s too long to fit in a magazine and too short to be a book, go read “My Mother’s Lover” or “Lifted” (my two personal favorites).  I’m a big fan of this seemingly new genre of writing.  They accept pitches, so if you are itching to write one consider querying them.  They seem to do a pretty fair payment price split (50/50, I believe).

My current short story submission status:

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time:  unknown
  2. Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  Official Response Time: up to 4 months
  3. Zahir (date submitted:  April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 1-2 months
  4. storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)  Official Response Time: 2-6 months
  5. Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  Official Response Time: 3 months

It’s been just over two months for my Zahir submission, so maybe I’ll be hearing back from this week.

Now, back to bed.  Good luck with your writing, submissions, and literary journal hunting.  And good luck to me on recovering.

The “Writing What You Know” Rule is Baloney

A lot of you writers are probably throwing up your arms in disagreement at my sacrilegious statement.  But honestly, fiction writing would be really boring if authors strictly stuck to writing only what they know.  Books wouldn’t portray fantasy creatures that they concocted because they never experienced meeting one themselves.  Can you imagine how awful it would be if J.K. Rowling had never written about a hippogriff simply because she was tethered to the impractical rule that you only write what you know?

And how sad would you be if Orson Scott Card had never written the Ender’s Game series, just because he had never traveled to outer space before?  How TAME and utterly LAME would fiction be if writers always followed this rule?

Anyway, just some food for thought as you work on your own writing.

On a side note, if you’re in search of some bedtime reading material, a friend sent me the link for these sheets.  I’m not entirely sure how I feel about them though.  I feel like I might become a little OCD in how I make my bed every morning.  They would have to go in the appropriate page order!

Apparently there’s this thing called “Publishing Time” that significantly slows down the entire submission response process across the industry.  I’m not a huge fan.  As you can see, I’m still waiting on a lot of stuff.

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  
  2. Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)
  3. matchbook (date submitted: March 7th; what submitted: 1 short short fiction)
  4. The Susquehanna Review (date submitted: March 14th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 2 non-fiction)
  5. Zahir (date submitted:  April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  6. Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle (date submitted: May 11th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  7. Brevity (date submitted: May 19th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  8. storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  9. Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)

I emailed Cicada magazine awhile ago to ask about my submissions since it is way past the official response time, but no response to that either.  I’m a little surprised just because I’ve had really good response time experiences with them before.  [shrug].  Maybe it’s a combination of Publishing Time and Summer Time.

I did get two rejection letters this week though–form letters at that–which wasn’t terribly heartening.  I’ll give a short bio for both those journals tomorrow on New Magazine Monday.  At least the rejections give me the opportunity to better inform you all how long you might have to wait :]

Keep writing while you wait!

Unexpected Writing Scams: Should You Pay to Submit Your Writing?

Like Brevity, I’m a little confused about the cancellation of the Richard M. Thorson Literary Prize for Agrarian Prose, for the allegedly unacceptable practice of charging contest submission fees.  Very nearly every sanctioned writing contest I’ve ever entered, I’ve been required to pay a small reading fee.  None of them were scams.  Many were posted by sources that I trust, such as Poets & Writers writing contest listings online and in their magazine, or on the Writer’s Relief’s listings.  They’re hosted by completely reputable literary journals.  Even book contests organized by the National Association of Elementary School Principals have fees.  In fact, I won 2nd place in a writing contest at The Baltimore Review that required a small entry fee of $15 (normally it’s only $10 entry fee, but I opted into the reduced year’s subscription combo package).  Nobody is calling for all these contests to be cancelled and, as someone who has submitted to both the aforementioned contests, I’m certainly not feeling scammed.  I understand that writing contests depend on those fees.  Where do you think the prize money for winning first, second, or third place comes from?  How else would they function?

Some literary journals, such as Zahir, are now requiring writers to pay small fees for general online submissions too.  Ranging between $1.50 and $2.50, these literary journals argue that it’s the same price you would pay for postage to mail the manuscript snail mail style.  If writers choose to mail it snail mail, they don’t have to pay the fee at all.  I think it’s pretty fair, all things considered.  I accept that it’s a tiny donation to keep some of my favorite literary journals afloat.

But maybe I’ve just been lucky in my writing submissions.  There are a lot of scams out there.  Other writers have recommended using Writer Beware to safeguard themselves against lecherous agents and fake writing contests.  (P.S.  NEVER PAY TO HAVE A LITERARY AGENT READ YOUR WORK!!  Read this list of red flags for things reputable literary agents should NEVER ask you to do or pay for.)

What do you think?  Should writers have to pay an entry fee for contests?  Is there a maximum amount that contests should charge?  Is it fair that literary journals are charging for general submissions?  Have you ever encountered any writing scams that you’d like to warn us about?

Lesson: You Can Get a Rejection Letter at Any Time

Despite the fact that it’s Sunday morning, I was able to wake up and smell the roses with a form rejection letter in the mail.  A form rejection letter at that.  [Depressed hang of head].

But at least we learned something from it, yes?

 

Palooka: A Journal of Underdog Excellence

Official submission response time:  under a month

My personal submission response time:  11 days

 

The rest of my submissions:

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  
  2. Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)
  3. matchbook (date submitted: March 7th; what submitted: 1 short short fiction)
  4. The Susquehanna Review (date submitted: March 14th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 2 non-fiction)
  5. Zahir (date submitted:  April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  6. Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle (date submitted: May 11th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  7. Brevity (date submitted: May 19th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  8. Owl Eye Review (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction
  9. storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  10. Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)

I did send an email to Cicada, politely wondering if my submissions have been lost or forgotten, but didn’t get a response to the email (I sent it 2 weeks ago).  What do you do when that happens?  How long do you wait before you email them again?  Should I try a different means of contact?  (Even though they don’t have one, to my knowledge).  Any helpful advice out there?

How to Grab an Editor’s Attention: Bragging (Politely) in Your Query Letter–With Example

 

For those of you who are shy and don’t like bragging about your publishing credits for fear of being impolite, stop being shy!  Literary journal editors and literary agents WANT to hear about that stuff!  A query letter and a cover letter are like job interviews.  Proving that you’re a qualified writer helps you–and your short story–get the job!  And, if you’ve been following along, and read my last post about how to win writing contests, talking about your past publications boosts your chances.  (Unfair to the brand new writer, maybe.  But they are like recommendation letters, illustrating your past quality work and dedication to writing).  As Brevity: a journal of concise literary nonfiction encourages in their blog, yes, you CAN and you SHOULD tell people about your accomplishments!

Here’s my example bio paragraph of a query letter and/or cover letter:

I recently graduated from Bloomsburg University with dual degrees in Creative Writing and History. My writing has received the 2009 and 2011 Bloomsburg University English Department Award for Creative Non-Fiction, the 2009 Fuller Fiction Award, the 2011 Savage Poetry Award, and 2nd place in The Baltimore Review’s 2011 creative non-fiction contest. I have had work appear or forthcoming in Inside Pennsylvania, The Stillwater Review, and The Honors Review.

This is the appropriate way–the way that editors expect–you to present yourself.  The facts, without inappropriate bragging embellishments like “I am a super talented writer,” or “you’ll love every word I blessed the page with.”  After the introductory paragraph with information such as the title, genre, word count, and brief summary of your short story submission, you slap in this form biography paragraph.

The Formula for a Biography Paragraph in Your Query Letter:

Your credentials (usually only mention this if you majored in writing somewhere or majored in whatever topic you’re writing about and furthers your credentials.  Bonus points if you have an MFA from a renown writing program).  Any awards your writing has won.  Where you’ve been published before.

Throwing out a question to any readers out there:  do you add anything else personal in your cover letters and query letters?  How much is too much personal information?  Any recommendations for what to put if you have no publishing credits or haven’t won a writing contest yet?

Jumping off of a recent discussion over at storynomad’s blog, should female writers sign their query letters and cover letters with gender ambiguous pen-names for the sake of upping their chances at getting published?  I don’t like to think that the literary world is still dominated by stereotypes and ruled by the “good ol’ boys,” but the percentage of male writers being published in literary journals over female writers is startling, according to the 2010 statistics by Vida.

But, according to Nobel Prize winner VS Naipaul, it doesn’t matter whether women use male pen-names or not anyway because he has super reader radar that can identify the gender of the writer based on the quality of the writing.  According to him, if it the writing isn’t nearly as good has his own, it’s obviously a woman’s creation.  Even Jane Austin pales in comparison to his dazzling writing talent.  I highly recommend reading the appalling article.  Would love to hear your opinions on the matter, so feel free to share!

On a personal note, it’s Sunday so normally I’d be lamenting the lack of postal service.  I’ve been so busy today though, moving in to NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute, meeting my new roommates, walking through a street fair that conveniently occurred below my dorm window (where I bought a bonsai tree!!  Here’s crossing my fingers I don’t kill it) that I didn’t have time to mope.

But, for consistency, I shall post my ongoing literary magazine submission waits:

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  
  2. Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)
  3. matchbook (date submitted: March 7th; what submitted: 1 short short fiction)
  4. The Susquehanna Review (date submitted: March 14th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 2 non-fiction)
  5. Zahir (date submitted:  April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  6. Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle (date submitted: May 11th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  7. Brevity (date submitted: May 19th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  8. Owl Eye Review (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  9. Palooka (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)
  10. storySouth (date submitted: June 1st; what submitted: 1 fiction)
  11. Weave magazine (date submitted:  June 1st; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)

While you’re waiting, write, submit, and water your bonsai trees!  I watered mine today :]

Listen to Your Mother: Waiting By the Phone Never Gets You Anywhere

Sixty-five unopened emails greeted me.  Not a single one was about my submissions.  An awful great amount were from Victoria’s Secret and Barnes and Noble, warning me about last-minute sales.  Lame.  One was The Honors Review, announcing that the print version of this year’s issue are heading out in the mail this week (!!!)  So, I guess it’s not all bad news; I’ll get to see my name in print soon.  But after seven whole days away from the computer, I was expecting to have some rejection and/or acceptance emails waiting for me.  A reward, of sorts, for being Patient and Technology-Free.  Apparently, that award has been officially retired, so I’m glad that I didn’t spend vast portions of the past week pining away, refreshing my email and compulsively checking literary journal websites (which I’m off to do right now).  Even forgetting about the EXISTENCE of the pot of water on the stove didn’t make it boil faster.

On this day upon which I cannot look forward to any responses at all because everybody in the literary and mail delivery world is sleeping in (or at church) I am still waiting upon…

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly (date submitted: January 4th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 1 non-fiction)  TWT (Total Wait Time): 5 months, 5 days
  2. Cicada (date submitted: February 16th; what submitted: 2 poems)  TWT:  3 months, 2 weeks, 4 days
  3. matchbook (date submitted: March 7th; what submitted: 1 short short fiction)  TWT:  2 months,  3 weeks, 6 days
  4. The Susquehanna Review (date submitted: March 14th; what submitted: 1 fiction, 2 non-fiction)  TWT:  2 months, 2 weeks, 6 days
  5. Zahir (date submitted:  April 25th; what submitted: 1 fiction)  TWT:  1 month, 6 days
  6. Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle (date submitted: May 11th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  TWT:  2 weeks, 4 days
  7. Brevity (date submitted: today, May 19th; what submitted: 1 non-fiction)  TWT:  1 week, 3 days

Please forgive me if I counted up the TWT wrong.  Math isn’t my strong suit.

How long have you all been waiting to hear back?

P.S.  Tybee Island and Savannah, Georgia, were awesome.  I highly recommend you visit if you enjoy the beach, seeing a brick wall pockmarked with cannon-ball holes, lighthouses, seafood, ice cream, dolphins, reading historical plaques attached to big tall monuments, or were ever a Girl Scout.