Literary Submissions

Writing is the easy part. The submission process, on the other hand, is an entirely different ball game. Whether you're submitting to literary agents, a publishing house, a literary magazine, or an online journal, they're each going to have a different process and want things formatted just the way they like it.

Here's the process:

Let's say I want to submit a short story for submission. First, I need to find who publishes short stories and in what medium (some are only print, only online, or both). Then, I'll need to go through the list and first check if they are interested in publishing stories in the genre I've written. If yes, I'll find "Submissions" on their website, and the first thing I do is look at the top of the screen to check for this:

"There are currently no open calls for submissions at this time."

If that isn't on the screen, read through the criteria. Often, word count is the biggest hindrance. Also, I’ve noticed that almost every site seems to be looking for “LGBQT writers/content”. Just an observation. If you manage to meet their requirements, you then start reading how they want the story submitted. Generally, they'll want an e-mail, have an online form, or some type of submission account like Submittable.

Formatting is the biggest pain, especially when trying to find a literary agent because each agent wants a specific amount of pages in a certain format, either as an attachment or pasted into an e-mail. Short stories are easier since you're sending an entire piece of work and most follow the Shunn formatting guide. However, there are often weird requirements where you'll have to go in your document and change things. For example, some want no personal information on your work while others want everything, including an address. Some will only accept a .doc format while others want a .pdf or .rtf. Some want a single - and others want double --. Once you've managed to fiddle with your original piece according to the specifications, you can move on to the cover letter.

The cover letter is generally the body of the e-mail you send to those you're submitting to. It should include your name, title of your work, word count, genre, and previous publications. Some magazines/agents/journals want a short bio written in 3rd person, while others don't. Some want your nationality, others don't. Once you've finished with that, and attached the perfectly formatted file, recheck their site to make sure you type the e-mail subject line exactly how they want.

Once you've finally completed all of this and press send, you'll immediately be sent an automatic reply that goes something like this:

"Thanks for your submission! Due to the number of submissions we receive, we don't have time to respond to every e-mail. If you don't hear from us within 2-6 months, please consider submitting your work elsewhere."

Cheers, thanks…

Then you do this again, and again, and again. There are a lot of free submissions out there, but there are also lots that charge a “$3 reading fee” and writing contests that charge an entry fee. Sometimes, you'll get lucky and people will want to publish your work, and other times, they won't. In any case, it's worth going through such a tedious process because it gives you the possibility to share your work with a larger audience and at the end of the day, isn't that what we're all trying to do? It’s a hassle, and I’d suggest making a sheet in Excel to keep track of everything, but ultimately, it’s better than not going for it.

WWU - Band Life

I’ve always thought about being in a band, touring, having fans shout my lyrics, wearing a black leather jacket, you know, the usual band stuff. There’s just something so appealing about choosing that path in life and not settling for a corporate job and not having to chat about ‘invoices’ with some guy named Dave.  For musicians, people actively consume and use what they create. We all listen to music, sometimes for distraction, motivation, to find peace, or because it reminds of us a specific time in our lives. I admire creative people. They take risks and are working to create a physical representation of something they feel inside. That’s goddamn beautiful. I respect musicians or people in a band because as a group, they can create a unique sound, which will ultimately have an influence on a large part of the population. If a song on YouTube only has 50,000 views, we think, “Well that’s not very much”. I don’t think I could speak to 50,000 individual people even if I had a whole month to try to do so.

We've all seen the videos of bands performing live and there are thousands of people chanting your lyrics, and going crazy simply because the band walked onstage. What other profession can give you instant gratification like that? Movies aren't live, and even during broadway plays, the applause is saved until the end. Comedians get immediate laughs, and although comedy is an art, I don't think it's comparable to music. However, I guarantee you people lost their mind at an AC/DC concert when the opening strums to Thunderstuck were first played. Or who doesn't sing along at an Aerosmith or Blink 182 or Bon Jovi, or Imagine Dragons concert? Or what about those moments when the lead singer holds the microphone out to the audience and thousands of people sing the words that you once wrote on a piece of paper? Incredible. All I'm saying is, being in a band would be amazing, and yet, from the recent deaths within the music industry, also extremely challenging.

I think people like musicians because the risk they take is personal. They aren’t producing something for anyone else besides themselves. The music they create reflects themselves and their body of work is largely a story about themselves. Songs about relationships, breakups, heartache, adventure, and life are generally drawn from real experiences. Now this isn’t true for all music. Movie scores are created to suit a scene and intended to evoke a certain response. Other music is created based on a demand from the music label or the ‘powers that be’. Pop music is manufactured based on what the masses want. But bands, in my opinion, at least start out with pure intentions. 

When I refer to a band, I’m talking about a group of people who got together at a young age and said, “Let’s make music for us”. They had nothing to lose, no label to answer to, and no pressure besides creating something unique. I respect that. It’s hard for many people to turn down a paid job to make music without the promise of a future. It’s a risk, and as someone who was never willing to pursue my fantasy of being an actor, I salute you. 

My friend is in a band and although I hate his music, I respect that he plays shows in dirty dive bars and he gives it his all. I should clarify that he plays experimental-punk-noise-metal. It’s unexplainable; I’m struggling to describe what I’ve witnessed at the many shows I’ve been to. It’s one of those bands whereas they play, I look at the person next to me and ask, “Do you they suck or are they genius?” But that’s not the question my friend asks himself. He enjoys playing music, the people he plays with are super cool dudes, and each week they go onstage and play for the sake of playing; mostly because they only get paid in drink tickets. And regardless of my lack of enthusiasm for his music, the fact he has a full-time job, but still finds time to play in a band, that’s something I can support.