Get your short fiction in before midnight on November 30th. Submission Guidelines are here.
There is no reading fee for this call. However if you’d like to support the magazine and the work we do, please consider getting a subscription or a back issue through our current Kickstarter campaign, Something Novel. Your support is truly appreciated by our hard-working editors … as are your stories. We look forward to reading them!
Jen, Mel, & Katherine
PS: If you submitted a story to us in the last round and haven’t heard back that is good news! It means the story is under consideration and has gone for a third round of readings.
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.
We’re placing the last stories in our 2016 schedule, and will have given final verdicts to our authors by February 15th (so fingers crossed for those of you authors out there who haven’t heard a final yes or no)! We’re so very pleased with the amazing stories we’ve read, and truly impressed by the talent we see.
When we opened for two weeks last summer, we received 1200 submissions. Yes, twelve hundred! We were a little stunned. And then we were a little overwhelmed. We were forced to stop giving personal replies to every submission, but we still read every story that came our way, often more than once.
This time around we aren’t opening the gates quite so wide. We have made the difficult decision to charge a small reading fee of $10 (about $7 US) for fiction submissions. This will both regulate the flood of submissions and help us keep the magazine afloat.
As a literary magazine in Canada, we are unusual in our genre-jumping domain. We like to think of ourselves as years ahead of the curve. But we don’t receive any of the grants that more literary magazines receive. We are proud of what we do, but we have to make this magazine stand on its own two feet.
Please know that submission fees are tax-deductible expenses for writers, and that every penny of those fees goes towards paying for the stories we print. We are a non-profit publisher, and we’ve given our time freely so that some day Pulp Literature will be able to support all its contributors with subscription income alone, but that day has not yet come.
Starting in March we will be reading submissions received by the end of February with an eye to the Winter 2017 issue.
So let’s hear the drumroll! We truly can’t wait to read your stories!
We are open for short fiction only from now, August 10th, until the 24th. Please see our submission guidelines before sending in your stories.
We strongly suggest reading an issue or two before submitting. You can purchase sample issues on our sidebar, or receive free access to the digital files of Issue 1 for a minimum contribution of $1 on our Patreon page.
After a thousand personal rejection letters, it’s time to do a more complete summary of what we’re looking for at Pulp Literature in terms of the stories we want to read and print. Of course, the best way to understand our mandate and magazine would be to purchase a sample e-copy, but short of that, here are some common themes we’ve found oft repeated in our letters to submitting authors:
We are looking for entertaining, accessible stories. We do appreciate clever and poetic turns of phrase, but first and foremost we want a story readers can sink into late at night before they go to bed. We want to stretch people’s minds, but not give them a headache.
We take a limited amount of downer stories. We receive so many brilliant but depressing stories that we must pass on all but the best gems. We strive for emotional balance in each of our issues. We want our readers to leave refreshed and entertained, not as if they’ve left a funeral.
We aren’t satisfied with a joke. Some writers send shaggy dog stories that end with a twist or revelation that is funny, but not a story. A story is about a person, not a plot twist.
We take all genres, not just pulp. Because our title says “Pulp” Literature, some authors assume we want guns and blood. The “pulp” in our title refers to cheap pulp paper, which we someday hope to use. We want our magazine to include a balance of all genres, including fantasy, romance, mystery, literary, etc.
We take more short fiction than novellas. While we try to have one longer work of 15-20,000 words in every issue, that is only one story out of a dozen. This means we are pickier and wait longer to reply to novellas, usually requesting a re-write. We’re not saying to only send us short works, but do realize what the odds and time requirements are for novellas.
We want both plot and character. We like some action along with those intriguing personalities, and we want to see characters that grow and change throughout the story arc.
We have high standards. We want stories we can treasure, words that show the love and sweat and effort of strong storytellers. These are the works we get excited about polishing so they shine to brilliance in our publication.
We are having a brief open submission period for short fiction only from August 10 – 24th. Please check our submission guidelines carefully before sending us your brightest gems.
Writers love feedback. No, let me clarify: Good writers love feedback. I have just finished sending out critiques for Hummingbird contest entrants who paid an extra $15 to get comments back. In addition to the magazine earning some spare change in the process, we’ve also earned deep thanks from most of the writers. To quote one author, “I can’t thank you enough for your kind words and thoughtful, measured critique … your feedback really does help me see how it can be the best version of itself.”
I get rather chuffed about this kind of thanks. (Translation of ‘chuffed’ for North Americans: very pleased indeed.) In fact, it’s rather addicting. When we began sending out rejections two years ago, I took pains to write a personal note to each author, giving a bit of a reason for the rejection, or a tip on how to improve the story. I often received notes of thanks.
Those days are over. Until now, I’ve been able to review every comment from every slushpile reader and moderate every response that gets sent out to our loyal submitters. I’ve enjoyed making friends along the way. But the price to the magazine has been high. It has taken long hours to sift so carefully through every submission — time that could be better spent on workshops, marketing, and editing our accepted content.
For this reason I regret to say we will no longer be giving personal feedback with every submission. This means the editors will have more time to do higher level editing, writing, and promotion for the magazine. It also means that authors who would like feedback from an editor have a choice of paying the extra fee during our contests, or outright hiring us, with proceeds going to the coffers of our non-profit press. We also have the fabulous Brewer award level on our Patreon page that lets writers get 20 pages of critique every three months.
Thanks for making me chuffed!
Susan Pieters is our acquisitions and developmental editor. She looks forward to the next round of submissions, which is opening soon!
Having realized there is no way we are going to process all these things in a candy overdose coma on the Saturday after Hallowe’en, we decided to extend the deadline for the contest to Tuesday. But then, nice people that we are, we thought it wouldn’t be fair not to extend the other deadlines as well. In an effort to regain our sanity we have staggered the closing dates as follows.
Monday November 3rd: Submission Call closes
Tuesday November 4th: The Raven Cover Story Contest closes
Wednesday November 5th: deadline for backers to get a free copy of Sidnye
So have fun on Friday, and use your weekend to get those submissions, entries, and pledges in! Happy Hallowe’en!
To celebrate the start of our first Magpie Award poetry contest, let me honour Max Plater, a poet from my very first writer’s group who passed along the best writing advice I ever received: trust your reader. As I continue to work through the submissions pile in our inbox, it is clear in the first paragraph which writers have learned to trust and respect their audience’s ability to perceive and follow the delicate rabbit trail. The writers with a true voice, that elusive quality so much sought and praised, reveal an intense intimacy and vulnerability (even if it is only leaked through the cracks.) Lesser writers smack of explanation, of grand action spelled with capital letters, and leave no room for lingering footnotes in the reader’s mind. The Golden Rule of Writing is this: trust your reader as you trust yourself. A writer must dig inside his own soul, wrestle with his art, and dare to go all the way down the rabbit hole. Because if he does, we’ll follow.
I once drove a friend home from a dinner party, and though I wasn’t sure where she lived, I drove confidently for five minutes before my friend asked me where I was headed, since she lived in the opposite direction. I turned around and asked her why she hadn’t said anything earlier. She said, “You just seemed so certain of where you were going.”
Good writing is like good driving. Good writers power forward with such confidence, that we as reading passengers are sure they’re going somewhere important. We stick along for the ride and put up with a lot of uncertainty about the destination because we trust the writer. We are lulled by their clean manner and professional style. We are engaged because they take us off the humdrum freeway and onto the scenic route. We give our allegiance to the intensely focused voice, the strong sense of purpose, the magnetic direction of burning truth. Good writers gain our trust so we don’t want the journey to end. Good writers can take us anywhere.
Pulp Literature is now re-opened for submissions. Good Drivers Wanted.