Call for Submissions: Hoot Review

Hoot Review

I love the idea of this mini-litmag on a postcard and the challenge of staying under 150 words.  Also, they have online workshops where they will help you edit your work before you even submit.  This one is definitely worth sharing.

Here are their submission guidelines:

We accept fiction, non-fiction, memoir, poetry, and book reviews year-round. Graphic fiction/non-fiction also welcome, but it must fit on a postcard.  We publish only one (1!) piece in print form each month– we publish 1-4 pieces in our online issue.

We accept work on a rolling basis–you can expect to hear from us within a month to six weeks, if we’re on schedule, which we are about 50% of the time. We do pay for pieces published on postcards (more details on this below).

  • ALL PROSE: <150 words. We’re not going to count them, but…we mean it.
  • ALL POETRY: <10 lines (if it’s more, be open to “creative reformatting”), but still <150 words.  Remember, it has to fit on a postcard!
  • BOOK REVIEWS: These will be published online, or on the back of a postcard when possible. Still <150 words. Must be of a recently published book (within the last year). The book must be published by an independent or small press. You are welcome to query before submitting if you would like our feedback on the book you are reviewing. If you would like your book reviewed by us, please send a query letter to info@hootreview.com.

You may submit as many works as you like, but two per submission. All work must be previously unpublished. Simultaneous submissions are, of course, allowed–but please let us know if your work is placed elsewhere.

We will read all types of work. However, we especially like work that is audacious, surprising and zesty. Furthermore, we want this postcard to be shareable. As you’re submitting, remember the Refrigerator Rule. Ask yourself: “Would someone want this hanging on their fridge?” Work that’s about the depressingness of gloomy alcohol clinking on the bottom of a shadowy glass in the gloaming after a father’s death wouldn’t work as well hanging from a fridge or tucked playfully in someone’s lunchbag.

That said, if you’ve got some melancholy work that is surprising and zesty and GOOD then we would be very excited to check it out.

See our “ISSUES” page to read samples of the work we have published in the past.

We will also read your work, and give you detailed feedback, BEFORE you submit. (We must be crazy.) Bring your piece to our super friendly online workshop, held every other Wednesday.

Depending on how generous we’re feeling, we also often give feedback with our rejections, especially if it is requested.

Note: We do not solicit work — and we read all of our submissions blindly (we don’t look at cover letters until we decide to accept/reject). Every submission we receive is given the same consideration, and is read by at least two, but up to four people, and often out loud (while we consume delicious items, like raspberry tart and/or dumplings.)

COSTS & PAYMENT:

To use our online submission manager, it costs $2 to submit up to two pieces of work. We also accept submissions by regular mail, for no fee. All pieces are considered for both our print (postcard) and our online issues, unless you specify otherwise.

You may submit as many pieces as you like, but you will need to pay the $2 submission fee for every two submissions (your two pieces must be in the same document, or Submittable will charge you twice!)- or, if you submit by mail, you must mail every two pieces separately, with their own return envelope (you mustinclude a SASE for a response.)

As for payment– it is sort of like we hold a mini-contest every month (but it’s not exactly a contest, as our submissions are rolling). The author we publish on a postcard receives 30% of all the submission money (after Submittable takes its 52% cut) for that month, from the 20th of the month two months prior publication, to the 20th of the month one month prior (guaranteed minimum of $10!), along with five copies of that month’s issue. For example, if we publish you in October, you get 30% of the money we received between August 20th and September 20th.

Authors published in our online issue do not receive monetary compensation at this time, but will receive five copies of the corresponding month’s postcard.

OTHER STUFF

  • You have to be okay with having your work ‘creatively’ formatted—so that it will both look cool and fit on a postcard.  Which means—we might paint the words on some wood and photograph them, or photo-edit the words onto an interesting-yet-appropriate thing, like a medicine bottle label, or a paper napkin, etc.  If you are submitting a poem, this sometimes means we have to change line breaks…though we try not to do this, and we always do it tastefully (at least, we think so.) Do not submit your work if you are not okay with this.
  • We are often asked about what informs our decision regarding publishing a piece on a postcard versus publishing it in our online issue. Choosing pieces for postcards vs. online is not a matter of “which ones we like best.” We love all of the pieces we publish. Factors include- what pieces we have for other months (we try to balance poems and prose, as well as keep style and content varied from postcard to postcard), appropriateness for sharing (see the Refrigerator Rule above), and illustration potential (both imagery and length of the piece factor here, as longer pieces are much harder to work with.)

READY TO SUBMIT?

Click here to go to our online submission manager.

Submission Bonanza! How-To Step 2: Finding Literary Magazines

submission bonanza logo 2 copySubmission Bonanza! How-To Step 2: Finding LitMags

One of the lessons that really hit home during my Submission Bonanza! was that I need to be more choosy about the literary magazines that I submit to.    Now that I have a few acceptances under my belt, I realize that I may have sold myself short in my submission process.  Before starting this challenge, I was just excited to have my work ‘out there.’  And in some ways I still am.  But after my first acceptance, when I had to contact all the other magazines I had submitted to and ask them to withdraw the submission that was accepted, well… I was kind of sad to be withdrawing some of those.

Don’t get me wrong, it was great to get acceptances and I’m looking forward to seeing the publications, but next time around, I will be a little more thoughtful in choosing which literary magazines I submit to.  Many magazines are looking for unpublished pieces so that they can have first time rights and once you give those away, it’s much more difficult to find places that will want to publish a piece.

Here are some general things to think about when looking for magazines:*

Do you want to get paid?

My own Submission Bonanza! challenge started as a labor of love and I wasn’t at all thinking about getting paid.  But now that I have racked up some acceptances, I’m a little more keen to be compensated for my work.  A lot of magazines offer contributors copies as payment.  Others offer a small, token payment of $5-20 USD.  Still others pay by word, line, or page.  One of my favorite payment systems is automatic consideration in a contest, which means the chance of a bigger monetary prize and a contest to put on your CV, in addition to publication.

 Are you willing to pay to submit to magazines?

A lot of magazines that I found asked for a small ($2-3 USD) reading fee if you submitted online.  This means that you don’t have to spend the time/money to print your pieces, get envelopes, and pay for postage for your submission and your SASE for the response.  This could be a reasonable trade-off, especially if you are looking to get paid, or if you are submitting to magazines abroad.  If you do a month-long Submission Bonanza!  at the end of the month you will have spent about $90 USD and have 30 chances to get paid and published.  On the other hand, there are plenty of magazines out there that don’t charge a reading fee, even some that compensate writers, so you just need to decide what you are comfortable with.

 Do you want to be in print or online?

There’s something really satisfying about seeing your work and your name in print.  A lot of print magazines have years of prestige and awards behind them.  But, as brightonsauce said, there are very few people reading print literary magazines these days.  Perhaps you could reach a bigger audience with a small online magazine than you could with a small print magazine.  There are also a lot of litmags out there that have both print and online editions.  This is just something to give some thought to as you look for magazines.

What kind of rights are you willing to give up?

I am not a copyright lawyer, so I am not going to try to explain the legalities of the different kinds of publications rights.  But, I will direct you to this article and this article, both of which I found useful when I started thinking about publication rights.  What’s on your blog seems to be a little bit of a gray area.  I found magazines that specifically said personal blogs counted as being previously published and also found magazines that said that this kind of publication was not considered by them to be previously published.  Just to be safe, I took down the pieces I was submitting from my blog, but it was something I had to wrestle with a bit.

Are you submitting online or by mail?

I was fortunate enough to do my Submission Bonanza! from a tiny island in the Caribbean that did not have a post office.  So, this made this particular decision quite easy for me.  A lot of literary magazines that I found charged a fee for electronic submissions but not snail mail submissions.  I also found quite a few that no longer accepted submissions by post.  Just something to consider as you search.

Do you want to submit this piece to other magazines?

Luckily for us writers, most of the literary magazines that I looked at accepted simultaneous submissions, which means you can submit that piece to other magazines as you wait to hear back from them.  If you plan on submitting your work to more than one magazine at a time (which I highly recommend!) make sure that they all accept simultaneous submissions.

There are a lot of tools out there to help writers find magazines that they can submit to.  One of the most popular is Duotrope.  You can currently use their free trial to give it a go, but they have recently gone to a paid subscription service.  It’s $50 USD per year and helps you keep track of deadlines and submissions, so a lot of writers find it invaluable.

If you don’t have the funds to invest in Duotrope, never fear!  There are lots of resources out there for writers who are looking for markets to be published in.  The one I’ve personally used the most is Poets & Writers, which has a free search function where you can search by payment type, genre, or format of the magazine.  (This one is also recommended by Mary MacAvoy.)

You can also take a look at The Submission Grinder, which is another one of my favorites.  The platform is still in Beta mode, but their database is growing rapidly and they are quickly becoming a good, free alternative to Duotrope.  This one is easily searchable using lots of different criteria, so it’s incredibly useful.  One drawback is that it only looks at magazines that accept fiction, so if you’re looking to submit nonfiction or poetry, you could still use it (since a lot of literary magazines accept multiple genres) but you’ll have to do a little more research to weed out the magazines that accept your genre.  (And Rachel K. Jones finds this one useful, too.)

There are also lots of lists of magazines.  For example, I personally was interested in magazines that were affiliated with Writing M.F.A. Programs, so I used this list.  Maybe you want to be in a Top 50 magazine, so you could use this list.  Perhaps you know you want to submit electronically, so you could use this list.  If you’re looking for magazines that are particularly edgy, you could look here.  Maybe you just want a giant resource of lots of magazines, so you could look here or here.  I personally was looking for magazines that accepted online submissions, did not charge a reading fee, accepted simultaneous submissions, and were reading in the summer months, sothis is the list I came up with.

Goal for this week:

Compile a list of magazines (I would recommend double the number you are planning to submit to) as possible candidates to submit your work to.

*More info on how to match your specific pieces to magazines will be coming in a future post.  For now, keep your eye out for magazines that publish the genre of pieces you have, match your criteria from the questions above, and that you like the feel of.

Submission Bonanza! How-To Step 1: Choosing and Editing Submittable Pieces

Submission Bonanza!submission bonanza logo 2 copy

How-To Step 1: Choosing and Editing Submittable Pieces

It feels like a big decision:  when is a piece done?  We all want our work to be ‘perfect.’  Naturally, we want to put our best foot forward and make sure that anything we submit is the very best it can be.  But don’t forget, this challenge started with one of The Copybot’s 100 Ways to Become a Better Writer: #66 Rack up Rejections.  You can’t wait until you know that a piece will be accepted to submit it.  You need to submit it first to find out.  Even the very act of submitting, whether they are accepted or not, will make you grow and learn and develop as a writer.

Of course, you want to send out solid, professional pieces.  Make sure you are submitting work that you are proud to attach your name to.  Ask yourself, if this comes out in print, would you share it with people?  Would you be proud to have your name in the byline?  To me, this is the most important criteria.

I personally am a big believer in the idea that if you wait for perfection, nothing you write is ever going to make it out the door.  No piece is ever really finished.  Your ideas about each piece of writing that you create will grow and change, just as you do.  You can always look at your work from new, fresh, different perspectives.  Some pieces will look good to you one year and like garbage the next.  And it’s really a doozy to try to predict what will appeal to different readers or editors at different magazines.  So pick pieces that you like, right now.  Chances are that if you like them, others out there will too.

Your work doesn’t need to be perfect to be out in the world.  Obviously, it’s important when polishing work to think about details.  But there is a difference between meaningful details and minutiae.  I personally spent days wondering if I should put one space or two between lines in a particular poem I was sending out.  Finally, I had to admit to myself that if an editor liked it, they liked it and if they didn’t, an extra space wasn’t going to change their mind.  No editor was going to pour over this poem for days the way I was.  They just don’t have time for that.

So I think of it as a process of polishing.  Your bits of creativity are diamonds.  Maybe they start as diamonds in the rough, so of course they need to be polished.  You want them to shine and shimmer and be as clear and beautiful as possible.  But if you sit there polishing them for years, they will wear away until there is no diamond left.  It will become just a pile of dust that you can’t sell or use or share with other people.  Or worse, you’ll have a nice little diamond sitting in your desk drawer collecting dust instead of sparkling.  Diamonds need to reflect light in order to shine, and so does your writing.  It’s not going to shimmer in the darkness of your desk drawer/computer hard drive/recesses of your brain.  It needs to be out in the sunlight. So, by all means, polish your diamonds.  It’s necessary.  But don’t chip away at them until there’s nothing left and don’t let them sit in darkness unable to sparkle.

To me, the easiest way to think about these decisions is to realize that in the end, it’s not my decision if something is ready to be published in a particular literary magazine.  I only have to decide if I would be proud to see this piece, with my name on it, in print.  If I would, I’m sending it out and the readers and editors at the various literary magazines that I’m submitting it to can decide if it’s ‘perfect’ enough to print in their publication.  Do you want this piece published?  If you do, then send it out.

Perhaps the most practical reason to submit something that might not be quite ‘perfect’ in your eyes is that you might get feedback on it.  Last year I submitted to Flash Frontier and got a lovely letter back saying they liked the piece, but suggesting ways that I could make it more solid and clearer.   (You can see the before and after pieces.) It was invaluable advice.  I took the advice and it did polish that tiny diamond I had.  And, they ended up publishing it.  I found that many of the literary magazines I looked at offered to give writers feedback, if you asked for it and were willing to wait a little longer for a response.  Some venues (like Hoot Review) even have scheduled workshops and are willing to work with you on a piece before you even submit it.

One more thing I’ve had a lot of comments about from people out there is that they don’t have enough pieces or work finished to do this challenge.  Many literary magazines are happy to accept simultaneous submissions, which means you can send your piece to more than one litmag at a time.  You could send just your favorite piece to 30 different magazines all at the same time.  So, if you have just one poem or one book review or one flash fiction piece, you have enough to do the 30 day challenge.

Organizing:

I personally chose about 15 of my strongest pieces, gave them a little polish-up and made sure they were ready to go out into the world.  Once I knew which pieces I was ready to submit, I made a handy little spreadsheet so that I could keep track of what I submitted to where and when (see below).  This is incredibly important because when your pieces get accepted (yes, when, not if) you may need to withdraw them from other magazines.  One of the pieces of info that I knew I needed was word count because I planned to submit some flash fiction, and I listed that below the title of each piece.  This spreadsheet  is also how I kept track of my responses.  You can see in this image that Camroc Review sent me my first rejection (in pink), so then I knew that those pieces could be sent out to even more places or maybe that they needed more polishing.  At the bottom of this spreadsheet, which you can’t see, is a total of how many times I submitted each piece, just a sum of all the 1’s I input to show that something had been submitted.  It’s a really good idea to make this spreadsheet now so that you don’t have to do it while you are doing the work of submitting later on.  You don’t need to know the litmags just yet, we’ll take care of those next week.

submissions spreadsheet

 

 

So, this is the goal for this week: collect one, a few, twenty pieces of writing that you like.  Polish them (gently!) until you would be proud to see them published.  Get yourself organized so that you keep track of your little diamonds, whether you are using Duotrope, a notebook, a dry erase scoreboard, or a little spreadsheet like mine.  And get ready to rack up rejections – and probably some acceptances too!

 

 

 

P.S. Thank you to everyone for the comments and suggestions.  Definitely keep the questions coming and feel free to suggest issues that you want to see addressed.  I’ll do my best to respond to all of these.  Keep in mind also that I’m learning as I go too, so your knowledge and experience is appreciated as well!

 

30 Litmags in 30 Days: Create Your Own Submission Bonanza!

submission bonanza logo 2 copy

I did it! I completed my self-imposed challenge, Submission Bonanza!  During the month of July, I submitted poetry, creative nonfiction, short stories, and flash fiction to 30 litmags.  I’m not going to lie, it took work and it took time.  After so many years not submitting any work and not focusing on my writing, this was definitely a challenge for me.  But I can certainly say it was well worth it.  I would highly recommend that anyone looking to grow as a writer think about setting their own Submission Bonanza!   I’ve grown and learned so many things over the past month and I am excited to share them all with you.

You can see my halfway post, Notches on the Bedpost, to see some of the benefits I’ve gained and ways I’ve been developing by doing this exercise.  There are so many ways in which I have grown.  I’ve become a better reader. I’ve started editing more seriously.  I’ve learned so much more about contemporary writers and writing.  I feel like I am getting familiar with literary magazines in way I wasn’t before.  Most importantly, I’ve been motivated to write more than I ever have before.

Also (spoiler alert!) I have received a few replies already and it’s not just rejections I am racking up.

Because I felt like this exercise was so successful in my growth and motivation as a writer, I am planning on doing it again for the month of September and I would love for anyone who is interested to join me.

All this month, I will be posting a practical guide on how to create your own Submission Bonanza! Once you lay the groundwork (finding magazines, choosing your pieces, writing your cover letter) this month, you will be ready by September 1st to start submitting to the many, many litmags which will be opening their mailboxes for submissions.

After I did the prep work of looking for magazines, editing my work, and writing a template of my cover letter and bio, it took me about an hour to submit to each magazine.  Decide for yourself a reasonable goal for your Submission Bonanza!  I am fortunate to have an hour a day to submit to magazines and also still have time for my writing.  What kind of time can you make for it?  Can you do an hour a week?  Three hours a week?  An hour a day? Three hours a day?  You want to challenge yourself, sure.  But you also want to make a Submission Bonanza!  that you can stick to.

I am really excited about doing this again and getting into gear for another flurry of submissions.  If you’re excited too, let me know!  I would love to share lessons learned, tricks and things to consider, and just general motivation and support with anyone who’s game!

 

Notches on the Bedpost: Unexpected Lessons Learned from Submitting Writing to LitMags Every Day

Notches on the bedpost - scratches on the back.

Earlier this summer, I was inspired by the devilish number 66 on a list of The 100 Best Ways to Become a Better Writer.  Rack up rejections.  The phrasing and sentiment behind the idea played over and over in my mind and I was captivated by it.  I started imagining pieces of my writing marching out into the world dressed to the nines in their Saturday night best, and returning home (accepted or not) to put another notch on the bedpost.  Perhaps they would have short-lived flirts with editors who didn’t want to take them home, or one night stands with litmags where they weren’t accepted but, hey, at least they were being read, even if only ephemerally.  Or maybe they’ll find the editors of their dreams and fall in love together, being read again and again, put into print to show the permanence of their mutual devotion.  In any case, they were going out, having a good time, and meeting some new people.

So, I encouraged myself to bring these absurd reveries to fruition by setting a challenge for myself.  In the month of July, I would submit work to one literary magazine every day.  I called it Submission Bonanza! (and yes, the exclamation point is quintessential – I’ll take it as one of my five) because it was by far the most submitting I’ve done, ever.  I’m a little more than halfway through my challenge and I’ve learned quite a bit from it. I’ve learned some basic, practical, and incredibly necessary skills, like how to write a cover letter for my work or what to include in my author’s bio (look out for posts on these in the future).  But I’ve also learned some things that I didn’t quite expect to learn.

1. I’ve been introduced to more contemporary writers and magazines.

In trying to decide which pieces to send to which magazines, I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  In this digital age, a lot of literary magazines have either full issues or teaser bits and pieces of issues on their websites.  Thankfully, I’ve not had to buy year-long subscriptions of every magazine I’ve submitted to (I am a poor grad-student-to-be, after all) in order to see what kinds of writing might be a good fit for the magazines.  The interesting thing about all of the reading I’ve been doing is that it is very contemporary.  It’s very now.  Though I love me some Pablo Neruda or Sylvia Plath, they have become quite canonized.  It’s incredibly interesting to read what people are writing now.  It’s also really useful to get to know the magazines and publishers that are working with these things.  You can see the magazines I’ve been submitting to at the original post about the challenge and read what they’ve been publishing.

2. I’ve become a better reader.

All of these pieces I’ve been reading, I’ve been reading incredibly closely and critically.  I don’t think “Gee, that poem makes me feel… (warm, angry, fuzzy, whatever).”  Because I am reading to find out what editors might like in my own writing, I have to ask myself a myriad of questions about everything I read.  What did the editors like about that piece?  What does it have in common with the other pieces that were chosen? How does it compare to pieces I’ve written?  Reading critically like this has forced me to turn the same discerning eye back on my own writing, which brings me to…

3. I’ve been motivated to edit more.

We’ve all heard the mantra again and again about how important editing is.  And yeah, I know it’s important.  But usually when I write, I become inspired and it takes off on it’s own.  It’s like I’m being filled with some spirit that’s vomiting words on the page that are beautiful and make me cry and the muse has me speaking in tongues and finally when I finish I am exhausted.  I feel good, sure.  But I also feel done.  Reading the works published in some of the magazines I’ve read feel so polished, though, so purposeful.  In some ways very different than the literary upchuck that I produce in my frenzied first drafts.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my writing as if it were my little children, but children need to be raised and tended, nurtured and loved.

4. I feel part of the writing community.

Ok, I know. My work is not being published alongside Billy Collins and I am not sharing martinis and discussing themes of displacement in literature with Salman Rushdie (yet).  But there’s something about just having your writing out in the world (even if it’s not being published – just having it out), that makes me feel like I am part of the community of authors trying to make sense of the world in words.  If all literature is in conversation, I feel like just by submitting work to magazines, I am becoming part of the conversation.

5. I am more inspired to write.

Perhaps most importantly, the more I read and submit, the more I want to write.  In this exercise of trying to get something out there every day, I find myself wanting more writing that I can put out there.  It’s been like a soaring spiral on updrafts of wind.  I am reading more, I am editing more, I am thinking more, and I am writing more.

I haven’t heard back from the literary magazines yet.  That should come as no surprise as some of them have reading periods of up to six months and so far, it’s been a measly seventeen days since my first submission.  So, I don’t know yet if this Submission Bonanza! will be a successful endeavor in terms of getting published.  But I do know it has been incredibly successful in furthering my development as a writer.

And to think, I’m only halfway through.

Thanks so much to http://debitch.tumblr.com/ for the incredibly apropos photo.

Submission Bonanza!: Racking up Rejections, or 30 LitMags in 31 Days

I found this thought-provoking post the other day about The 100 Best Ways to Becoming a Better Writer on thecopybot.com.  Some of them are interesting ways to meet characters, such as “74. Sell insurance, cars or newspapers face-to-face for two months.”  A lot of them are imaginative and funny.  Some of them are just things you know you need to do, like “3. Write over a thousand words a day.”

But the one that really stood out to me and inspired me most was Number 66.

Rack up Rejections.

I haven’t been doing a lot of this.  I haven’t really been doing any of it.  In the past 10 years, I’ve maybe submitted work to 5 literary magazines.  At this rate, all my writing will sit quietly on my computer and collect digital dust until I die or my computer dies, and either way it will be lost forever. (Note to self: remember to back up hard drive.)

That’s not really how I’d like it to go.

I write because I care about inspiring people, about connecting with people in a more meaningful way than normal day-to-day conversation allows.  That’s not gonna happen if everything I write remains for-my-eyes-only-on-my-measly-little-laptop.

So, I’m challenging myself to rack up rejections this month.

So, self:

Put yourself out there, knowing that you will get lots of rejections.  Not everyone likes to read what you like to write and that’s ok.  Think of each rejection as a battle scar, a symbol that you’re fighting the good fight, getting closer to being who you want to be.

So here’s the plan:  I’ll be submitting work to 30 LitMags this month, one for each day (with one day off, just to make the number round!).  To try to keep myself honest, I’ll be posting them here as I go.  Feel free to join me!

Aaaaaaaand, we’re off!

1: Fourteen Hills

2: Flash Frontier

3: The Round

4: Bat City Review

5. Swine Magazine

6. The Minetta Review

7. Camroc Press Review

8. Black Warrior Review

9. smoking glue gun

10. The Journal

11. The McNeese Review

12. Mid-American Review

13. Front Porch Journal

14. Exegesis

15. Columbia

16. Yemassee

17. Clarion

18. The Southeast Review

19. Silk Road

20. The Portland Review

21. Reed Magazine

22. The Louisville Review

23. The Coachella Review

24. Rio Grande Review

25. Saw Palm

26. Switchback

27. Camera Obscura

28. Northwind Magazine

29. Slice Magazine

30. Post Road Magazine

Writing Challenge: When the Goddesses Come Out

 

 

Nymphs, goddesses, apsaras, maenads!  It’s May.  There’s a fresh exhilaration in the air.  Mother’s Day is coming up.  I have been incredibly inspired by all those bloggers who did the A-Z blogging challenge in April.  These things all fit together nicely in a little challenge that I am setting for myself.  This month, I am endeavoring to write about 26 strong, creative women from mythology.  So, the goal is to write 26 short stories, one based on a female mythological figure for each letter of the alphabet.  Feel free to join me, or to set your own goal for this month.  New growth and new beginnings are in the air!

 

A special Creative-Commons “Thanks!” to itjournalist from flickr for the photo!