storySouth's 2008 Million Writers Award for best online short story is now open for nominations from editors and readers. Once again, the Edit Red Writing Community is sponsoring the contest, which means there is a $300 prize for the overall winner. For those who don't feel like wading through the rules, here's the award process in a nutshell:
Complete information on all this, along with links to where people can nominate stories, is available on the award website. I will also be regularly publishing comments and information on my blog and website as the award process as it unfolds.
Consider this a dose of harsh medicine for wannabe writers. Consider this insight into how to become a professional writer and, alternately, how to eternally doom your stories to editorial limbo.
For six years now I've been editing storySouth, a literary journal focusing on Southern writers. I initially edited the fiction and nonfiction while my co-editor Jake Adam York edited the poetry. Whatever we were doing must have worked because storySouth grew to the point where we needed other editors to assist us. Now Scott Yarbrough edits storySouth's fiction, Dan Albergotti the poetry, while Jake and I continue on as overall editors and I still edit the nonfiction. If you read our guidelines or masthead, these facts are laid out for the world to see.
The problem is that far too many writers are not reading our guidelines, let alone our magazine. I know this because in the last week I've received nine fiction submissions snail mailed to my house. Our guidelines specifically state to e-mail submissions to the editors. Anyone who reads our ONLINE journal couldn't fail to note that gee, storySouth is an ONLINE journal! Perhaps they accept electronic submissions. Let me look at the guidelines. The answer: YES! And who edits the fiction? Why its a nice chap named Scott Yarbrough.
Obviously the writers who mailed these fiction submissions to me never even read our guidelines, let alone storySouth. They pulled up our listing in some print or online submission database and let loose their submissions. Several of them didn't even include SASEs for a response. Two asked that their stories be considered for storySouth's Million Writers Award, which is for PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED fiction (another fact these writers could have learned by doing even the most basic of homework).
Now comes the clincher. After looking through all these short stories mailed to the wrong editor without looking at our journal or guidelines, some without a SASE, all without a clue, one pattern becomes clear--they all stink. Not one of them is readable past the first paragraph. And that brings us to this simple truth about publishing: Good writers do their homework. Bad writers do not. If a writer can't be bothered to do even a bit of reading about the magazine or journal they are submitting to, know that the editor will see this. And editors know that the truth behind a lack of preparation on the part of a writer is that their story is likely bad, bad, bad.
Editor's note: I originally posted this information on my personal blog, but thought storySouth readers would also appreciate it.
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Scott Boyan at Thinksimian has completed a wonderful meta-analysis of storySouth's Million Writers Award to determine the best online literary journals and magazines. Basically, Scott crunched the numbers from the first four years of the award to see which online magazines placed the most stories in the notable and top ten listings. You can access Scott's complete analysis as a Google spreadsheet, but here are his top ranking online journals and magazines:
Thanks to Scott for doing this analysis. And as a reminder, the 2008 Million Writers Award will start accepting nominations in about a month.
Editor's note: I originally posted this review on my personal blog, but thought storySouth readers would also appreciate it.
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The 2008 Novel and Short Story Writer's Market (N&SSW) is now out from Writers Digest Books. While I'm of a mixed mind about the book's usefulness in actually submitting to fiction markets, I've decided to recommend it once again for both new and experienced writers.
First, the back story on my mixed recommendation. When I reviewed last year's edition, I mentioned that one problem overtaking the venerable market compilation is that online resources like Duotrope's Digest and Ralan's listing (which is specifically for speculative fiction writers) have overtaken N&SSW by offering free submission information that's more up-to-date than anything a printed book can offer. I especially like Duotrope Digest, which offers an easy-to-use online market and submission database. When I asked N&SSW editor Lauren Mosko if Writer's Digest Books was considering making all of N&SSW's listings available online, she said that "Free market resource sites like Duotrope's Digest are certainly on our radar, but we feel confident Writer's Market will remain the brand writers can trust." Lauren added that they were preparing for the upcoming redesign and relaunch of WritersMarket.com.
So it's now a year later. One very good change is that N&SSW began offering a nice blog, which contains market and other useful writing information. I highly recommend writers check out the blog on a regular basis. In addition, the updated Writersmarket.com has been launched. However, Writersmarket.com remains a subscriber based system which, in my opinion, doesn't offer enough extra information and ability above Duotrope Digest to justify the subscription cost of $29.99 for one year. In addition, purchasing N&SSW doesn't give you access to Writersmarket.com. So when you buy the book you're locked into an already out of date data set, at least with regards to market information.
However, I'm still recommending the market guide because editors Lauren Mosko and Michael Schweer have compiled an amazing collection of articles to aid both beginning or experienced writers. N&SSW once again features in-depth information on writing and submitting in genres such as literary fiction, mysteries, romance, and more; of particular interest to SF/F writers is an informative interview with author Kelly Link and John Joseph Adams' "Speculative Fiction: The Next Generation." For me, the authors interviews are the best part of N&SSW, especially since they give valuable insight into the business side of writing and help writers benefit from the mistakes and successes of others.
So if you're looking for a book which helps you write and submit a compelling story, along with giving useful advice from top authors in all fictional genres, this is a great book to own. But if you're purchasing N&SSW merely for the market listings, I suggest you give N&SSW a pass and move over to Duotrope.
I'm pleased to announce storySouth's Pushcart Prize nominees for 2007:
• the poem "Dragging Canoe Vanishes from the Bear Pit into the Endless Clucking of the Gods" by Brian Barker (published in the fall 2007 issue of storySouth);
• the poem "Fish Catcher" by Melanie Carter (published in the winter 2007 issue of storySouth);
• the short story "Johnny Cash, Beset by Darkness," by John Marshall Daniel (published in the fall 2007 issue of storySouth)
• the short story "Professing Caliban" by Richard Plant (published in the winter 2007 issue of storySouth);
• the nonfiction story "Welcome to Richmond, Miss Welty" by Tyler Scott published in the spring/summer 2007 issue of storySouth);
• the nonfiction story "The House In Simi Valley" by Darlin' Neal (published in the spring/summer 2007 issue of storySouth).
Congrats and thanks to all these authors.
Must be something in the air, because a few weeks after Small Spiral Notebook hung up its editorial coat, another major journal is taking its exit stage left. Pindeldyboz will cease publication of its print edition with the next issue, with a final release party scheduled for Monday, Dec. 10 in New York City. Works from the print Pindeldyboz have been selected for anthologies such as Best American Non-Required Reading and New Stories From the South, The Year's Best.
However, the good news is that Executive Editor Whitney Pastorek tells me the web edition of Pindeldyboz will continue. Over the last seven years, the online Pindeldyboz has published over 1000 stories by more than 600 authors and was named the Best Online Publication of 2003 in the storySouth Million Writers Award. If you're interested in submitting your works for the online edition, they will reopen for subs on January 1.