The Pulp Literature submissions window is open until November 15th. Last week we revealed three reasons slush pile readers pass on submissions. Now we’ll reveal three things that make slush readers swipe right.
- Do your research. We don’t expect you to know everything, but good writers do their homework. Whether it’s creating realistic fight scenes, composing diverse characters, or following our submission guidelines, we appreciate when authors put in the effort to get the details right.
- Tension and suspense. Readers are curious creatures, and they want conflict! Writers who know how to arouse the reader’s curiosity and manipulate the tension of the story will win points with slush readers as well.
- Originality. This should be no surprise: readers want something fresh. That can seem daunting, but trust us, everyone has at least one original story waiting to be read. Be sure to read a few issues of the magazine to make sure you’re not submitting something too similar to what we’ve already published.
Of course, each slush reader is going to bring personal preferences to the mix, and there are plenty of nuanced reasons even good stories are rejected. Just remember it’s nothing personal and perseverance is key! And be sure to read our article, Slushpile Confidential: 3 Mistakes That Will Sink your Submission.
Pulp Literature is opening its submissions window from November 1st to 15th. To help your story succeed, our slushpile readers are sharing a few of the things that make them swipe left on stories. Be sure your submission avoids these pitfalls.
- Author didn’t follow guidelines. It’s easy to skim over this information, especially if you are submitting the story to multiple publishers, but it’s an automatic disqualifier for Pulp Literature. We get around a thousand submissions every time we open the submissions window, and we don’t have time to read stories from authors who haven’t bothered to read the submission guidelines.
- Too much exposition. Hate to break it to you, but exposition is boring, and short stories don’t have room to be boring. Think about working the backstory into the action of the narrative, and don’t be afraid to cut.
- Inappropriate subject matter. Werewolf incest child porn. It’s a real thing, and you know who you are. That’s an extreme example, but being aware of the market you are submitting to is important. Be sure to read a few issues to know what stories will hit the mark, and which ones are off by a country mile.
Thankfully, most of the authors who submit to us don’t fall into these traps, and we truly appreciate the time and effort you put into presenting a polished and considered story.
Of course, each slush reader is going to bring personal preferences to the mix, and there are plenty of nuanced reasons even good stories are rejected. Just remember it’s nothing personal and perseverance is key!
Calling all writers! We have a very short submissions opening period on right now!
For this period we are specifically looking for
- Science Fiction. We like all forms of spec fic, from alternate history to space opera. But it’s been a while since we’ve had much good old fashioned hard SF come through the inbox. Send us your best!
- Mystery. We’re always well-served with the cozy Stella Rymans and the time-travelling Seven Swans, but we’d also like to see some shorter whodunits. Have you got an intriguing and original mystery that’s 5000 words or under? Send it in.
- Stories by Indigenous Canadians. Since most of us in BC are guests on First Nations’ territories, we’d love to print more stories by the descendants of Canada’s first people.
Please note that due to the large number of submissions we receive we can’t reply personally to every submission. If you submitted in a previous opening period and haven’t heard from us, we are unable to take the story. If we have contacted you to say its still under consideration, be patient. Sometimes it takes well over a year to find the right issue for a story we like.
I’m reading some great novel submissions to Pulp Literature Press these days, and reflecting upon excellence in storytelling.
Indicators of Excellence
- build upon structural understandings and storytelling gifts, the way GRR Martin sets up his huge cast of characters in triangles.
- develop central and supporting characters that are true to themselves. Robert Ludlum brings his acting experience to the creation of villains who believe in their own struggles.
- create settings that ground us in imagined worlds, whether fantastic or mundane. For example, in Emma Donoghue’s novel Room, four walls are a child’s universe.
Further Marks of Excellence
These gifted storytellers also
- develop worlds through philosophical and insider knowledge, the way Robert Heinlein employs both his background in engineering and work in philosophy and values, good and evil.
- transform character through hard decisions and sacrifice. LOTR. Say no more.
- gift us with moments of intense beauty and personal resonance, that remind us what our character is struggling to maintain and create. For, what would Narnia be without its many moments of intense beauty, to remind us why these children raise swords against their enemies?
It seems a lot of excellence to bear in mind. Still, we do exactly that every day in our work. All these skills come to us hot from the furnace of intense interest in our craft, alongside our love of books we’ve read, affection for our own characters, even the baddies, and a desire to be the best storyteller we can be. We do all this for our readers, so that they too will look up from our books, the way we look up from others’, to say I’ll be there in a minute, I just have to finish this chapter.
I hope you’ll have another brilliant week in your writing career. Cheers Mel
If you enjoy reading Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, get her pocket-sized writing guide, The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume, here. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires you through 30 days of hints and help with narrative structure.
From Pulp Literature Press
It’s Pride Week in Vancouver! To celebrate, we are specifically requesting submissions from the LGBTQIA+ community during the first week of our August submissions period. If you would like to self-identify in the submissions form please do; but also don’t feel you have to. If your story is accepted you’ll have the choice whether to self-identify or not. We certainly won’t out you without permission.
Please read our submission guidelines carefully. Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, we can’t reply personally to every author.
We request that each writer submit only one story during this week. However, you are also welcome to submit a second story during the remaining three weeks of the month.
Everyone else, don’t worry — we are open for the entire month of August. We look forward to receiving your fabulous fiction after August 7th!
Happy writing, and happy Pride week!
The recent US elections revealed an ugly underbelly of fear and bigotry that surprised the world and has terrified many marginalized groups across the country. We here at Pulp Literature feel for our American friends, most of whom are not racist, sexist, homophobic, ableist, or anti-immigration. And while we can’t open Canada’s borders for you, we can open submissions.
To balance the rhetoric coming from south of the border, we are calling specifically for stories that give voice to the rest: to queers, women, immigrants, indigenous people, disabled people, and people of colour. We want stories by and about humans of all shapes and sizes: feminist, LGBTQIA, people of colour, Métis, First Nations, differently-abled … any and all segments of the population historically lacking representation in the mainstream.
But what if you happen to be a straight white dude? We’ll still read your stuff, but it will help to have a character with at least one of the above attributes, and who is convincingly portrayed. Don’t think it can be done? Read Bob Thurber’s ‘Wager’, PE Bolivar’s ‘The Lament for iCarus’ and Rob Taylor’s ‘Here I Lay Down My Heart’. They’re all astoundingly beautiful stories by white North American men writing outside their own experiences.
Submissions will be open from November 15th – 30th. Writers, poets, artists, send us your best and most diverse works. We invite you to self-identify if you like. We’ll look forward to your voices!
Submissions Guidelines here.
To read a sample issue, back our Kickstarter campaign at the $5 level. We’ll send you your choice of back issue right away, no money down.