Publishing Advice: Tips for Getting Past the Gatekeepers of Speculative Fiction Magazines

The Sarcastic Muse

Publishing Advice: Getting Past the Gatekeepers of Speculative Fiction MagazinesI am an editor for a speculative fiction magazine; I get to read a lot of interesting stories and work with dedicated people. It’s a fun job and I’ve learned a lot. Like other magazines/journals, we have a slush pile, but even if your story makes it through the first round, it’s not guaranteed to make it past me. Many don’t. So, at the end of the day, when it comes to you all, my fellow writers, I am one of the many people standing between you and publication.

An editor’s literary tastes are idiosyncratic, so I wasn’t lying when I said that you can’t know why someone rejected your piece. I had a flash fiction piece rejected a couple months back by Daily Science Fiction. It made it past their first round and into the second, final one, which means it was a strong contender for publication…

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I’m Still Here

(C) Michelle T Mueller

(C) Michelle T Mueller

Every day I think of possible blog topics or I see something interesting and think, I should write a post about that.

And then I don’t . . .

BUT I suppose there’s never a time like the present to pick up where I left off (however many months ago) with my writing here.

The truth is I’ve been in a bit of a life funk. And as life funks are prone to doing, this one has carried over to my writing. In some ways, it may have helped. Lately I’ve started feeling a sense of urgency about my work — about finishing my novel — that wasn’t there before. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older (yeah, yeah I realize 25 is not old—but it’s not 18 anymore either!) or maybe it’s because I had my entire way of life swept out from under my feet in just two months. But I feel like now is the time for me to do something with words.

In the past two months I have traveled back and forth to the States, broken up with my boyfriend of 3.5 years, moved out of my apartment into a temporary one (that doesn’t exactly feel like home), worked on acquiring a job (or two), and finished and defended my master’s thesis. Writing on the internet just wasn’t the outlet I needed, and thus I have been a rather inefficient blogger.

However, the silver lining with all these changes is that I have a lot of freedom now — and the horizon is clear. Basically I can do whatever I want. Travel, move, finally try to stake out a career in editing. WRITE.

Things could be worse.

So, though I don’t like sharing personal life details too much, I figured I’d explain why I’ve seemingly wandered off the blogosphere. (If anyone remotely cares.)

But I am here. Still attempting to make sense of my strange, ever-changing world through words. Still searching for poetry. Still writing.

I am here, and I am moving forward.

Ready To Submit your Writing? Get a Submission Tracker

The Sarcastic Muse

Ready To Submit your Writing? Get a Submission TrackerA couple weeks ago, I discussed the importance of getting your work out there, and a couple months ago, I gave some pointers about submitting to literary magazines. Now that I’ve given you the how and why, you’re at the stage where it’s time to start defining your submission plans. What would I suggest?

Make goals

Aim for one hundred rejections. That’s right. This may sound like a glass-is-half-empty kind of approach, but I’ve put a positive twist on it. If you set a goal of one hundred rejections a year, then that means you’ve submitted your work one hundred times. Think about that for a minute.

But if 100 rejections feels like a little too much your first time out, then lower the goal. Either way, make one. Lay out your plan.

Don’t hang your hopes on one piece

The more work you’ve completed and prepped, the…

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Want To Be Successful? Fight for Your Writing Rejections

The Sarcastic Muse

As a writer, the worst thing you can do is work in an environment of fear of rejection.
—Carol Leifer

If you’ve sent your work out before, you’re probably familiar with responses like this one: “Thank you for letting us read [insert name of piece here], but . . .”

Ah, the dreaded “but.” A writer’s worst enemy.

Or is it?

Each time we let our work leave the nest, there’s a niggling worry that our poor words may not remember howWant To Be Successful? Fight for Your Writing Rejections to fly. We’re afraid they’ll flop into a broken, wingless mess. We’re afraid someone will tell us we’re not good enough. Sometimes this fear is so great that we don’t send anything out at all. We condemn our work before it’s even had a shot.

It’s all too easy to get emotional about rejections — to make excuses: “Oh, the subject I’ve written about is too ‘out there.’…

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Hiring a Freelance Editor: Pricing and Getting the Most for Your Money

The Sarcastic Muse

The Freelance Editor Dilemma: Pricing and Getting the Most for Your MoneyI was chatting with my cousin a few weeks ago about freelance work. He used to work as a graphic designer—doing logos and such—and so he knows how difficult it can be to find work or, at the very least, to find people willing to pay for good work. Business owners would ask to have a professional logo made for next to nothing. And I thought: If that’s all the money they were willing to put into their business, then what does that tell me they think their company is worth?

The same issue occurs in the editing world, too. While many writers do understand that quality editing takes time and doesn’t come cheap, others seem to underestimate just what exactly editing entails—and what exactly they’re paying for.

I understand why writers may wish to find cheaper editing options—monetary issues or otherwise—but as with any business (and publishing novels is…

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Join Marcy McKay’s FREE 10-Day Creative Monsters Challenge

Image used with permission from Mudpie Writing

Image used with permission from Mudpie Writing

I posted yesterday on the Sarcastic Muse about Marcy McKay’s challenge over at Mudpie Writing, but it’s such a great, free opportunity, that I figured as many people should know about it as possible.

Today is the first day of the challenge, but I assume it isn’t too late to sign up. Even if you can’t participate right now, you will still have access to all the material and can complete the challenge at some later date that suits you. Pretty cool, huh?

So what is the Creative Monsters Challenge? Well . . . it’s basically for writers who battle all those pesky fears that interfere with our writing lives: procrastination, perfectionism, self-doubt, envy, etc. We’ve all felt one or the other at some point. Here’s a chance to connect with others and work through them.

As stated on Marcy’s site:

“The purpose of this Challenge is to give you valuable information about writing fears, direct access to me to answer specific questions, as well as to get to know other writers.


For more information on the challenge, visit Mudpie Writing:
Or you can sign up directly by clicking this link here:

And if you want to know more about Marcy, you can read her story: HERE.

This is a great resource for writers at any stage, so go sign up!

Things To Know If You Want To Publish in Literary Magazines

The Sarcastic Muse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll start this off by saying: I am not a master of getting published in literary magazines. Rather it’s probably more accurate to say that I’m an expert in getting rejected by them. But there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that may be of use to you—whether you’re a literary writer or a genre writer or somewhere in between. Reading the fine print, familiarizing yourself with your chosen venue of publication, drafting cover and query letters—all of these things will bring you one step closer to seeing your name in print.

And besides, there are a ton of opportunities out there for writers—you just need to know where to look.

Cover Letters

Most literary journals require a cover letter. I’ve noticed that some of the speculative fiction magazines are more lenient about this, but as a habit, I send them one, too. Cover letters are not…

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