Stupefying Stories is currently CLOSED to unsolicited submissions. For more information about what we’re likely to be looking for when we reopen to submissions, see our Submission Guidelines, but be advised that they are subject to change.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

The Slush Pile Survival Guide

"Twelve Tips for Making A Good First Impression"

by Katherine Karr, Editorial Minion

When you send a submission to STUPEFYING STORIES, the very first thing that happens is that it's received by a kindly, somewhat gray-haired, grandmotherly type woman -- in other words, me. Some mornings Bruce beats me to the inbox, but most morning's it's my job to:
  • receive the email
  • download the attachment
  • run it through our anti-virus and anti-malware filters
  • verify that the story file is actually openable and readable
  • log the submission into our tracking system
  • send the author an email confirming receipt of the submission and providing the tracking number
  • and then and only then do I put your submission into the review queue, for consideration by the first readers and editors
Since my mother taught me that it's always important to make a good first impression, here's what you can do to make a good first impression on me.
  1. Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. If my anti-nastyware filters find a virus or trojan in your submission, it's dead on arrival.
  2. Make sure you're sending us the story you want us to consider. You wouldn't believe how often a submission arrives with one story title given in the cover letter, a different title as the name of the attached file, and yet another title in the manuscript itself. I have no way of knowing whether you decided to change the title of your story or sent us the wrong file by mistake.
  3. Make sure you're sending us a file we can read. Whatever else you may have heard, .rtf files are best, Word 97-2003 (.doc) files are the next-best, and Word 2010 (.docx) files the nextest-bestest. Bruce has a philosophical attachment to Open Office and its friends, but .odt files often prove troublesome. Don't send us Apple .pages files, PDF files, or Word Template or Macro files or anything like that.
  4. Send us a file, not a link to a file-sharing site. Email accounts get hacked or spoofed all the time and we receive an unbelievable number of email messages that ostensibly are from names we recognize, but in fact contain a link to a Belorussian malware site or something. All such email messages are deleted immediately.
  5. Be careful about putting web links in your cover letter. If you include too many, our filtering software may decide your message is spam and can it. Just this morning I fished such a submission out of the trash. The author had included so many links to other sites where his fiction is available, our filters decided it was spam and trashed it.
  6. ARTISTS! If you're hoping to get a cover assignment, send a query first, and preferably send it directly to Bruce. If you try to email your portfolio to the submissions address, it just overflows our inbox and takes me offline until Bruce can go in and manually delete your messages from our email server. He gets very crabby when he has to do that.
  7. Put the name of your story on the subject line. Including your name is nice, too, but don't go overboard in either the TMI or minimalist directions. I receive a lot of submissions that try to pack the author's entire c.v. into the subject line, but even more with the subject line, "Story Submission." When I have to search through several thousand email messages to find a particular one, meaningless subject lines make me cranky.
  8. Send one story per email. If you send one email with three story files, it complicates my job and according to Bruce is a pretty good indicator that you've just discovered us and decided to dump all your old trunk stories on us. Multiple submissions go straight to the "short shrift" pile.
  9. Write some kind of cover letter. You don't have to give us your entire resume, your philosophy of literature, or a detailed synopsis of your story, but whenever I receive an email with a blank subject line, no body content, and an attached file named "story.docx," it gets put into containment until Bruce has the time to examine it thoroughly and verify that it's safe to open.
  10. In the body of your message, be sure to include your name, your pen name if used, the title of the story, and whether this submission is exclusive to us or a simultaneous submission. This is important because exclusive submissions go to the top of the pile. This may only mean that your story gets rejected faster, but still, the editors will look at your story sooner rather than later.
  11. If you've sold to us previously, be sure to include that in your cover letter, because submissions from previous contributors also go to the top of the pile. (It's a big pile. There's a lot of room at the top.) Don't count on me to recognize your name, because as much as I wish I knew each and every one of your personally, I don't. I mean, how often does your own grandmother have trouble remembering whether your name is Katy, Kari, or Kathy?
  12. Finally, if you send a query about your story or a withdrawal because you've placed it with another publisher, please include the story title and the tracking number we sent you when we received your submission. It makes it a lot easier for me to track down your submission and keep our tracking database up-to-date.
Thanks for reading this, and I look forward to seeing your submissions,

1 comment:

Judith said...

Very helpful! Thanks.