Subtitle: Guaranteed Short Fiction Sales On the First Try: Go From Rags To Riches Instantly! Never See A Rejection Slip Again! Become A Household Name Over Night! Rise Right To the Top Of the Amazon Rankings!
The above mentioned super-double secret short fiction submission ‘trick’ – known to every successful editor and publisher in the industry (it was originally developed by Gutenberg) – is one that is handed down during an annual right of passage ceremony held in a secret location on the Isle of Crete and imposes upon its recipients an admonition never to reveal it to the great unwashed upon a penalty of death by means far too horrible to relate. For all of you, however, I am willing to risk that fate. I must break the silence once and for all. After all, this guaranteed method literally works every single time –
so long as you are an official resident of la-la-land.
When you live in la-la-land the world is a wonderful place. Everything has a glow to it. Your every thought drips with portent and genius. The world awaits your dawning brilliance with barely restrained anticipation. Why, even now I and every other editor on the whole planet is hoping – nay – PRAYING – to the gods of all that is right and just and proper in the universe that you will deign to consider sending little ol’ us your latest masterpiece.
Even when we tell you we aren’t interested – YOU know better. Of course you do. You know that all of our silly rules and regulations concerning fonts and layout and subject and formatting are for all those other people, those little, talentless, foolish, delusional, people who annoyingly and with great temerity deign to call themselves writers, perhaps even anoint themselves with the grandiose title of AUTHOR. They who mistakenly follow the rules, they who make an obsession of spelling and grammar, they who willingly jump through our flaming guideline hoops, seeking circus-like applause from the masses, YOU know THEY are all WRONG.
After all, they don’t know the secret. But now you do.
You know that in order to submit your stories with a guarantee of a successful sale, you must do exactly the opposite – to the letter – of whatever submission guidelines have been published by the editor.
You know that the PERFECT time to submit your stories is during that period of time when the publication states they are NOT accepting submissions. (If everyone else is following that rule, the ONLY story the editor will have to consider is yours!); you know that when the publication specifies certain genres and particular types of stories, you will stand out like a shining star by submitting a story that is anything but that particular genre: it will confuse us and make us believe you are actually writing on some Thomas Pynchon – like obscure genius level. We’ll be embarrassed to admit we don’t understand it and to hide our shame we’ll buy it); you know to lace your story with curses and steamy hot sex scenes when the publication states it publishes for a family audience. You know that when the publication states it prohibits simultaneous submissions, you should send that ms to EVERYONE (and let them know you have – editorial jealously will lead to a bidding war); you know that when the guidelines specify a font that is clear and unadorned, you MUST use one that is florid, dense and difficult to read; you know to use colored fonts (fluorescent green is a stand out!) when plain ol’ black is requested; you know to include obscuring imagery as a background to your text; to use bright orange construction paper when submitting by mail; to turn off spell check and to always, always, always submit your first, un-edited drafts (editors just love to have the chance to fix your work – it makes them feel wanted and important).
And don’t forget to include that complete biography and prior publication history that starts with that crayon-drawn illustrated story that was published on your refrigerator door in Kindergarten and continues all the way up to the very last second of the present. Be sure to carefully detail all of the obscure, unknown, unprofessional publications you’ve traded sexual favors to be published in (because we’re not really familiar with the field and absolutely need this information to properly do our jobs) – and don’t forget to mention every single last one of your social networking influences (because we need market share too). Don’t forget the links.
We (the secret cabal of fiction editors – even those who are not yet accepting fiction) really hope you follow this secret-to-success because we have a problem. It really annoys us when we have to deal with submissions outside of our guidelines, but we don’t dare to really let you know just exactly how much it pisses us off. How much time it wastes. How mentally painful it is to read some of this (insert your favorite word for excrement here) and realize that the author honestly thinks it is worthy of our attention. Of our time. Reading stuff like this reminds us – constantly – of what we’d like to be reading instead. And now don’t have the time to read. Because of YOU.
But we don’t dare let our true feelings be known. We can’t say what we really want to say, things like “I am now dedicating myself to making it my life’s work to see that you are never published anywhere, ever” or “my grandmother writes better prose – and she’s been dead forty years!” or even “your manuscript was before me, now it is behind you, folded into multiple pointy corners. I suggest that you file it in the appropriate orifice where it will no doubt find the audience it so richly deserves”.
Why don’t we say these things (except perhaps that one time a year when we’re all on the Isle of Crete, hunched around our ceremonial fire in the secret cave when we can let our hair down and share a year’s worth of horror stories)? Because there is that slight, remote, vanishingly tiny, miniscule, itty-bitty, microscopic, sub-atomic particle-sized little chance that you might one day produce a masterpiece.
And none of us wants to be known as the editor who foolishly let that gem go by – or worse, the editor who failed to recognize your genius when you were still a crappy, illiterate, crown-scribbling hack.
If, however, you do us the favor of following these secret submission guidelines, we’ll ALL be off the hook. We’ll enshrine your name in the Sacred Scroll of the Circular File and make rude noises whenever it is mentioned, finally free from concerns over blotting our careers with having failed to recognize the one true genius.
Instead of letting you know how we really feel, we’re forced to write kind letters of encouragement or send a form (both of which remind us – painfully – of what we really want to be saying) and occasionally bitch about you all in pieces like this. And then we say things like this:
READ THE FRACKIN SUBMISSION GUIDELINES AND FOR ONCE IN YOUR SORRY-ASSED FRACKIN LIFE, FOLLOW THEM! TO THE LETTER!
If you do, we won’t be talking about you so much on the Isle of Crete, around the sacred fire, in the secret cave. And believe me, that’s a good thing.
(Those who take this to heart, Amazing Stories’ Submission Guidelines for fiction can be found HERE. You have been warned.)