Sunday, November 27, 2011

Alternative outlets may be just the right venue

One of the great sources for potential markets that I've mentioned in several posts is, but I've generally focused on the literary outlets included there. also has a section titled "Alternative Magazines" that is worth perusing as well. There appear to be a few distinctions between literary and alternative outlets, but, given the focus on this blog, I'll underscore that literary publications tend to publish almost exclusively creative work (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction) with perhaps author interviews and book reviews; whereas alternative publications tend to have a particular agenda, and their use of creative work is limited, preferring to publish essays and journalistic exposes.

Nevertheless, some alternative outlets do actively seek creative writing, and you may find that your work suits an outlet's specialized viewpoint. Here are just a few possibilities that I unearthed thanks to NewPages' Alt listings.

Well known in the literary world, The Bloomsbury Review offers book reviews on literature that is ignored by more mainstream publications because it's been released, generally speaking, by smaller, independent presses. As its homepage says, "The Bloomsbury Review is simply lively writing about good reading and good writers." Its editors, however, are interested in publishing original poetry as well. They tend to avoid simultaneously submitted work, according to their guidelines, but poets may want to check it out (as should essayists and reviewers).

Another possible outlet for creative writers of various ilks is Feminist Studies, which is "committed to providing a forum for feminist analysis, debate, and exchange." As far as creative writing is concerned, FS's editors "welcome all forms of creative expression, including but not limited to poetry and short fiction in all forms," says their guidelines page. Be aware that the editors do not consider simultaneous submissions.

A third interesting possibility that I'll highlight is Stone Voices, "a magazine and online community that explores the connections between visual arts and the spiritual journey." Among the editors' many interests are fiction and poetry, and they emphasize that each issue is done with high-production value so that it's "a book worth enjoying ... [and] a book worth keeping for a long time." Like many specialized journals, they have fairly lengthy and specific submission guidelines, but it's a venue that's worthy of attention for fiction writers and poets.

These are just three of numerous alternative outlets listed at Not all alt journals use creative work, but many do, and you just may find a nice fit if you take the time to check out the possibilities.
Men of Winter (now available for Nook and Kindle, as well as in print)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Four intriguing publishing possibilities to check out

Thanks to my weekly email alert from Duotrope's Digest, I've discovered three new journals and one that is expanding its scope which are all definitely worth noting, for writers and readers of excellent literature alike. (I've written about Duotrope's usefulness, bordering on necessity, for anyone looking for outlets for her and his creative work -- see the sidebar for older posts, several of which mention the digest.)

A brand-new, and sassy, journal that is seeking submissions for its inaugural issue is What the Fiction, "a journal of great fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry," according to its webpage. WTF was inspired by a creative writing class at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, and its editors plan to release their first issue online in early 2012. They also intend to do a "best of" print anthology by the end of the year. Edited by Michael Brantley, the journal's webpage provides a plethora of information about its editors and their inspirations and attitudes. It's worth checking out for the insight -- and as reading entertainment in itself.

Executive editor Sarah Rae of Poydras Review has an ambitious agenda for her gestating journal. In addition to short fiction, nonfiction and poetry, the journal will include articles on theory -- and the editors hope to attract "the largest public possible by using a variety of mediums including print, online, and ebooks," according to their mission statement. A woman after my own heart, Ms. Rae has an MFA in creative writing and MA in psychology (all right, I have neither an MFA in creative writing nor an MA in psychology, but my dissertation devoted much space to trauma theory and neuropsychology).

Another intriguing journal, nearly brand-new, is From the Depths, produced by Haunted Waters Press. From the Depths is a print journal, the first issue of which will be out this winter, but the website will also feature work by its contributors -- in fact, some of that work is already posted and well worth checking out. I must say, while I really appreciate the attitude of What the Fiction and the ambition of Poydras Review, I love the feel and look of Haunted Waters Press, founded by Savannah Renee Warren and Susan Warren Utley.

Finally, Noctua Review, a journal of the MFA program at Southern Connecticut State University, is expanding the mission it began in 2008 (to publish the work of SCSU graduate students) by including work from "writers and artists across the country," and will release this new incarnation of itself in 2012. Editor in chief Julie Oliver appears to have a full masthead of editors to undertake the journal's rigorous new scope.

These are just four engaging journals in the process of launching and expanding. In addition to Duotrope's Digest, also check out NewPages and the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses for other great possibilities.
Men of Winter

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Submishmash seems to be leading the submission race

In an earlier post, I wrote about the various ways that writers and poets can submit their work to editors and publishers -- via email, an online portal, or snail mail -- and it remains true, but even though it's only been a few months since that post the submission landscape has changed appreciably. I completed a novel in June, after five years of working on it, and I began writing a series of short stories. As such, I've been quite active in the last few months in terms of contacting publishers (regarding the novel) and editors (regarding the stories). Based on my experience, it seems that more and more people are utilizing the submission service known as Submishmash. There are others, including Tell It Slant, but far and away Submishmash is leading the pack.

In fact, Submishmash now calls itself the number-one submission management tool, used by over 2,000 publishers and universities, according to its website. It's hardly scientific, but since the first part of July, I've contacted 84 editors, including publishers about my novel, and 25 (or nearly 30 percent) have used Submishmash. Two have used Tell It Slant (about 2 percent), and seventeen have used some other online portal system (just over 20 percent). Of course, email continues to be an option, but my sense is that the majority of editors/publishers who were already attracted to electronic submissions have moved to a service like Submishmash, if not Submishmash itself. Of that 84, only seven were email contacts, or about 8 percent. I mentioned in my post regarding writers' guidelines that perhaps email submissions required the most care in that journals/publishing houses tended to have very specific -- and idiosyncratic -- instructions about how to prepare your submission. I imagine that those e-submission enthusiasts prefer the simplicity a service like Submishmash offers.

A few journals still prefer snail-mail submissions, perhaps believing that it keeps the number of submissions manageable. And along with the rise in submission service use, like Tell It Slant and Submishmash, there's been a rise, from my perspective, in journals that require a nominal reading fee (usually $2 or $3). This may be an opportune time for me to acknowledge that the unscientific statistics that I used in the previous paragraph were undoubtedly skewed by the fact that I'm increasingly attracted to journals who use online submission managers. I cannot put a number to it, but I know in my perusals for outlets for my new novel and newly written stories that I passed up a few possible contacts because they were requiring snail-mail or email submissions, and at that moment I didn't have the patience or ambition to pursue them. By the same token, I passed up a handful that required a reading fee. Now, however, I've become comfortable using PayPal to dole out the two or three bucks, so I'm more inclined today than I was even a couple of months ago to pay the reading fee.

There is some debate in publishing circles about the ethics of charging a reading fee, and tied into that debate is whether or not a reading fee suppresses the number (and hence overall quality) of submissions. I'm sure that some editors/publishers, especially those over the age of, say, 25, are disinclined toward the fee because in the "old days" only disreputable journals charged a reading fee. Professional and serious outlets would never lower themselves to charge a fee -- which no doubt led to the creation of so many writing contests, as it was seen as more noble to charge $15 to enter a contest (which in various ways was returned to the winners and entrants) than to charge everyone a couple of dollars, almost none of which would be returned to the writers and poets, in terms of a subscription or sample copy, etc.

The journal I read for, Quiddity, has recently switched to using Submishmash (from snail mail); and I find it quite handy. I receive an email from one of the editors letting me know there are submissions for me to read. My account is the same for both my Quiddity reading and for my own submissions to journals/publishers which use Submishmash. As a  reader, I simply log in, click QUIDDITY, then click on a story (I'm only reading prose), and it pops up on the screen. I generally increase its magnification a couple of times to make it exceptionally easy to read, and when I've reached a decision I either click the thumb-up or thumb-down icon (there's a maybe option, but as a group we decided even before Submishmash that maybes are virtually useless -- it's yes or no, or get off the pot).

There's also an option of adding a comment to the submission, which I don't bother with either. If I read something wonderful and I fear that Quiddity may lose it if we don't act promptly, I'll email or text the appropriate editor and alert her or him that we have a live one we may want to act on as soon as possible.

Just a couple of side notes regarding using Submishmash: I was having trouble at first receiving email notifications from the editors that I had something to read, so I contacted Submishmash support and received a response literally within the hour (it turned out to be a minor technical glitch that was immediately cleared up) -- and this was on a Saturday morning. Even though using Submishmash as a reader is handy, I do sort of miss having to haunt the campus, where I only teach part-time, to pick up fresh or drop off read submissions, and likely running into one of the editors or interns in the Q office. And in addition to the human contact, I miss the feel of the submissions, the bulk and smell of them, and the knowledge that the actual writer who composed the piece physically handled the material and signed the cover letter. I liked looking at the signature to see what it may imply about the author.

Would I want to go back to snail mail? Probably not, but one does lose something of the experience by going to electronic submissions. And based on the trend I'm seeing as a writer, it's full steam ahead for e-submissions, with Submishmash in particular leading the field.
Men of Winter