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.
Last call for submissions for 2017!
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.
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.
Submissions are now open for the month of February.
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!
Have you thought about submitting short stories to literary magazines? If not, why not? Tonight at our free talk with the Golden Ears Writers in Maple Ridge we’ll discuss
- Why short stories are a great way to launch your writing career
- How stories in literary magazines can improve your own book sales
- Where and how to submit
- What catches an editor’s eye
- How to learn from rejections (we all get them!)
- Acceptance! Now what? Working with an editor
- Capitalizing and growing your brand from your short story publications
There will be plenty of time for questions and answers, and we’ll talk specifically about the types of stories and writing we look for in the slush pile at Pulp Literature.
Join us for a convivial evening with fellow writers:
Tuesday 18 November, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Arts Centre Theatre
11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge
(at 224th, north of Lougheed)
admission free, all welcome!