When I first started submitting to publications, I did a lot of things incorrectly. I sometimes didn’t read the guidelines, I misspelled the names of editors, I forgot to include a SASE (yes, that’s how long I’ve been doing this!). Now that I’m an editor, I look back and realize that I learned a lot, but I learned it the hard way.
We’re seeing a lot of those same mistakes from authors and artists who are submitting to Geek Love, and I thought I would try and help people through those rough patches. Here’s why: First, we want to see your work so that we can accept it and mistakes mean that it might not get to us properly or that we might miss something. Second, there’s a system behind the guidelines we’ve created (more on that below) and it makes a great deal of extra work for us when authors and artists don’t follow the guidelines. Lastly, because I wish someone had given me this kind of help when I was just starting out.
Okay, so for those who don’t know, Geek Love is a collection of geek-themed erotic stories, art, comics and photos that we’re Kickstarting. It hit its goal in just a few days (woo!) and now that the collection is definitely a go, we’re inviting story and art submissions from authors and artists around the world.
We’ve had a lot of people respond in a short amount of time, which is awesome! But it means more competition, which in turn means that people who follow the guidelines are already a step ahead of those who don’t.
Here are some tips for submitting your stories and art the right way (Please note: while this definitely applies to Geek Love and most of the other publications I’d edited, this is by no means either law or a comprehensive list. Other editors could probably add a lot to this in terms of how they work with submissions).
- Read the submission guidelines. We’re including the submission link in almost everything we post about submissions and the link is on the Kickstarter page, so as to make it easy. This is a critical first step and one that people often miss. The guidelines will give you everything you need to know. (Okay, almost everything! See #4).
- Don’t say something like, “Here is a link to my art. Email me if you want some.” This is a great way to be a frustrating submitter — we’re slammed with running the Kickstarter, reading the slush pile we already have, getting the word out about the book, and trying to do all of our other work (Geek Love is all volunteer for the editors and core team) and, unfortunately, we just don’t have time to check people’s websites. There’s another reason for this, which is #3:
- We are choosing submissions blind, meaning we look at art and read stories without knowing who created them. This is to ensure that we’re always picking pieces based on quality and fit, and never on the name of their creator. This is why we have a single email set up for submissions. It’s another reason to go through the proper submission process — you never know how the publication has set up their automated stuff behind the scenes.
- Once you’ve read the guidelines (and ideally anything else you can find about the publication), do feel free to ask any questions that haven’t been answered. Editors aren’t perfect, and they forget to put important things in the guidelines all the time. It is best if you follow the guidelines and ask via the email provided, but it’s understandable that as a society, we’ve become used to responding on whatever media we read the post on. That’s fine, too, but realize it could get lost among other comments.
- Don’t send pieces that don’t fit the guidelines. If the guidelines say “2000-5000 words” don’t send a piece that’s 7000 words (or even 5005 words!) and assume the editor will help you edit it down. Don’t send something homophobic, misogynistic, racist or negative toward “fat gamers” to an anthology with guidelines that clearly state we are geek-, QUILTBAG-, gender-, race-, orientation- and body size-positive.
- With that in mind, DO send things that fit the guidelines. For example, Geek Love is very short on art of sexy geek men, couples, people with a range of skin color and body sizes, and a few other things (all of which are in the guidelines). This means that if you send us a great image of a sexy woman, you are competing with all of the other images we already have of sexy women (and we can only take so many). However, if you send us one of the art or story ideas that we really need, you’re already ahead of the game.
- Send pieces in the format the guidelines request.
- Be polite and give us the benefit of the doubt. I really love authors and artists who appreciate editors’ time and who understand that they have a lot on their plate. Usually, their follow-up note shows up a week or two after we said we’d respond, and it sounds like this, “I’m sorry to bother you, because I know you’re busy, but I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to decide on my story/art yet.” This is perfect, because if their story DID go missing for some reason or if our response went missing, we can clear it all up. What is not perfect is a daily email asking curtly if we’ve chosen their fantastic story yet because otherwise they’re going to send it somewhere else.
- Remember we’re geeks too! This project is very much a labor of love. While we are Kickstarting to raise funds for printing, shipping and paying contributors, the core team is all volunteer. If there’s any money left over, we’ll pay ourselves back for the money we’ve already put into the project. If there isn’t, we’ll know we produced a fantastic book that made a lot of people happy. We want to do this, we love to do this, and we want to do it with you, if at all possible. All you have to do is make it easy for us to say yes!
- Lastly, help us spread the word if you can. Sexy geeks fucking rock. The whole world needs to know how much we rock, and all the geeks out there need to know that there’s a collection celebrating that, whether they want to submit something, help fund the Kickstarter, buy the book or just do a happy dance in their game room.
I’m sure there are other things that others may want to add, or that I’ll add to this list as we go forward. Any questions? Just ask! (In the comments of this blog are fine in this particular case, although the firstname.lastname@example.org addy is fine as well).
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.