Monday, June 29, 2015

Beguiled Allegory

There are more opportunities for publication than you might think. As a writer, I know this. As an editor, I know this. I know that even a very small and humble publication like Umbrella Factory Magazine is adding to this opportunity for publication. I say this because UFM generally published about 16 writers a year. This isn't much, but when you consider that there are thousands of publications like UFM the amount of space for writers is astonishing.

It's been my experience that to be published is very important to many writers. It was and in many ways still is important to me. I also think with most writers, the pursuit of publication is not a priority. I have met many writers who want publication but they are waiting for an editor or an agent or a magazine to come to them. This never happens. And so, these writers never get published.

To get published, a writer must submit work, send email, network and otherwise become a shameless self promoter. There is no sense in writing the best short story ever, if no one will get to read it. Of course, just because it's published doesn't mean it's the best short story ever. A published short story means two things: first, a writer took the time to write it, rewrite, rewrite again and sent it to a magazine and second, the story delighted an editor. Brilliant system too.

Then there are the prolific writers who are prolific submiters. A prolific submiter is someone who submits and submit and submits and submits and this tactic works only because if you submit 100 stories, someone, somewhere will publish something. In my time at Umbrella Factory Magazine I have met a few of this kind of submiters. They don't read the magazine, they don't really follow the guidelines and they don't address the editors with any sort of tact. These submiters do not have time to do the right thing, they have to submit 100 things today.

One of these prolific submiters, who is in fact a repeat offender of the UFM submissions, drives me crazy. This writer has something submitted to UFM at any given moment. As close as I can tell this writer does not get the hint, I have rejected everything for years. Dozens of pieces. And at this point, I don't even read new submissions. When I deal with writers I am very cautious and kind with my rejects. I know how it feels to be reject. I treat this writer no differently. Our interactions are just a writer and an editor. I just hope someday that this prolific submiter moves on.

Last night, I looked at this writer's cover letter. It was not a proper cover letter. But there was a list of former publications. So, I did what any curious person would do. I looked up the first publication listed to see if it was legitimate.

Allegory was the first publication listed.

When I opened up Allegory, I immediately began to look over site. I think I do this perfunctory inspection only because I work an online magazine too. I look at the layout, I see how readable it is, I know nothing of design, but I know what's easy to read. Should I like what I see, the skim turns into examination.

When I examine a magazine what I really mean is, I look at the editors, the masthead, the submission guidelines and the “about us” content. Then I'll look to see if I know any of the contributors who I will read first.

I cannot even put into words how impressed I am with Allegory.

First, this magazine has been going since 1998. I would expect an established magazine to have high standards and good quality stuff. Why it has taken until June of 2015 to find this magazine is a good question.

Second, the care this magazine has taken on their submissions page baffles me. There are great links to help writers and their submissions. Links that help with cover letters, Standard Manuscript Format and very specific format directions, are included on the submissions page. This should make every manuscript accessible, readable and probably publishable should the writer follow the guidelines. In short, Allegory specifically tells everyone who submits how they want to be treated.

I have not submitted a short story since 2011. Nothing. There is no real reason why, I just haven't. The last few years have found me with my two novels and a third one forthcoming through Ring of Fire Books. I've been writing screenplays and making film at Rocket House Pictures. I have been writing short stories, but I haven't been sharing.

Until today.

I was so pleased with Allegory and their submission guidelines I thought I might submit something myself. I picked a story that might fit with some of the other stories I read in their magazine. They are a SF, Horror and Fantasy publication. I do not write this sort of thing, but I have a story that has a supernatural bend in it. These were my steps: I read through the story. I put it into the format that they wanted. I read through all of the submission guidelines. I read through all of the links they provided me. I wrote the cover letter to standard. And I submitted my story.

I feel so good about the submission.

I think at this point, it does not matter one way or the other if my short story gets a publication in Allegory or not. I have grown as a writer today just by submitting. I've grown a little as a literary magazine editor too.

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