Creative Writing

On Reading Submission Guidelines

A Guest Post by Jaymee Goh

http://jaymeegoh.com; https://ko-fi.com/jaymeegoh

Originally posted on 1 Aug 2019 as a Comment in the Malaysian Writers Community

Earlier yesterday, there was a post from a member inviting folks to participate in an anthology project. Several members responded with interest, which led to other members asking the original poster some questions about the publication and publishing model. From the answers, it became clear that this was a self-publishing venture, which required buy-in from everyone participating.

I was pretty flippant in my comment towards people who responded in the affirmative, but to be fair, it was not clear to me whether folks said “yes” because they misread the USD50 as a submission fee, or as payment.

If you mis-read it as payment, you’re not at fault!!! The post was not very clearly written. The rest of this post is for you.

If you read it properly, and were interested, also legit!!!! Participating in a self-publishing project is often very attractive for the writer who has no intention of making money from their writing, really just wants to see their writing in print, and is willing to pay money for that to happen. The rest of this post probably does not apply to you.


That said, what goes into a submission call? Here are some notes from the short story submission trenches:


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

What is this project about? From the description you should be able to tell the medium (poetry? non-fiction?) and genre (memoir?), the wordcount, the prompts for submissions, and possibly examples of work they’re looking for.


FORMATTING AND COMMUNICATION:

Depending on the volume of a market/venue, publishers and editors will have list of how they prefer to receive their submissions. Things like font (Courier, Times New Roman are standard), file types (.docx, .rtf), spacing–most of these are in place to make your submission easier to read. What it also implies is…. whether or not you have actually read the submission guidelines and can follow instructions. If you decide to use a hard-to-read font because you think it’s ~fancier, it tells the editor that you don’t understand instructions and won’t take directions for revisions/edits well, so unless your writing is stellar af, you come off as difficult to work with. If there is an e-mail for you to send submissions to, which is not the editor’s personal/office e-mail, use the submissions e-mail! Do not send it to the editor, nor even CC them. It doesn’t make your submission stand out, unless you want to look annoying and arrogant.


PAYMENT AND RIGHTS:

Payment will usually either be listed as a flat fee or per word. Sometimes markets will list whether the payment will be upon acceptance, or upon publication.


PROJECT DESCRIPTION:

What is this project about? From the description you should be able to tell the medium (poetry? non-fiction?) and genre (memoir?), the wordcount, the prompts for submissions, and possibly examples of work they’re looking for.


FORMATTING AND COMMUNICATION:

Depending on the volume of a market/venue, publishers and editors will have list of how they prefer to receive their submissions. Things like font (Courier, Times New Roman are standard), file types (.docx, .rtf), spacing–most of these are in place to make your submission easier to read.

What it also implies is…. whether or not you have actually read the submission guidelines and can follow instructions. If you decide to use a hard-to-read font because you think it’s ~fancier, it tells the editor that you don’t understand instructions and won’t take directions for revisions/edits well, so unless your writing is stellar af, you come off as difficult to work with.

If there is an e-mail for you to send submissions to, which is not the editor’s personal/office e-mail, use the submissions e-mail! Do not send it to the editor, nor even CC them. It doesn’t make your submission stand out, unless you want to look annoying and arrogant.


PAYMENT AND RIGHTS:

Payment will usually either be listed as a flat fee or per word. Sometimes markets will list whether the payment will be upon acceptance, or upon publication.

Upon Acceptance means that as soon as the contract is signed, they’ll send you the money.

Upon Publication means that you have to wait until the piece is published, before they send you money, which may involve some rounds of editing.

(Neither is worse than the other. It’s just a matter of how publishers do their workflow.)

You may see, particularly for book anthology projects, payments by royalty, i.e. a % of sales. Payments by royalty is as good as selling your story for free. Anthologies very rarely make enough money for the publisher to justify the effort of calculating out royalty, and if you do receive payment, it will probably be like, a couple of dollars, if even that. And most publishers do not pay out unless it’s more than $10.

If there is no payment listed, that’s also something to take note of. Maybe you don’t need to get paid and that is cool! If you have a story of the heart that is best placed in this market, then submit as you wish.

Rights are what they are buying from you–what publishers usually want is to be the first to publish your work, and to be the only venue showcasing your work for a certain amount of time.In many SFF markets, this is usually a year, after which you are free to submit your work elsewhere as a reprint.

There are business reasons for this! Most magazines/outlets rely on providing original work to their subscribers. If your work appears in two different places, one of these publications has already lost the claim to say that they are publishing original fiction. (Even if they are providing the fiction for free, it still looks janky, like they couldn’t find anything new. This is particularly the case for specific markets with a targeted audience.) (With reprint anthologies, the publishers are relying on the taste and reputation of the editor to sell the book.)

Because of this, some may also specify whether they allow simultaneous submissions. That means whether they are okay with your piece being under consideration elsewhere. For example, if one ghost story anthology gets you writing one, and then another ghost story anthology comes up, with similar deadlines, to simultaneously submit is to send to both of them at the same time. Because of the reading schedule of editors varying, you could hear back from one sooner than the other, and the second one may want the story, and are gonna be unhappy if they hear you have it accepted elsewhere, which means they can no longer acquire it. Some places don’t mind this, but do ask that you let them know if your piece has been accepted elsewhere, so they know to remove it from consideration.


ON SUBMISSION FEES:

Depending on the venue you may or may not see a submission fee! Many popular genres do not have a submission fee, and in fact actively fight against them because submission fees mean only a certain number of people get to submit. This limits the pool, and prevents a lot of writers who are otherwise awesomely talented from submitting.WHY does this practice persist? The reasons boil down to:

snobbery: the market may be prestigious, and to separate the perceived wheat from the perceived chaff, they put in a fee, so only people who really want to be read will submit;

business model: the market does not have enough of a readership to make money off their subscriptions. Since there are probably more submitters than there are subscribers, they recuperate costs by charging submission fees. This is generally the case with many literary journals.

You may also see this called a “reading fee,” especially for writing contests. This is because however much money they are offering isn’t enough to pay the judges who are doing the reading, so the submission fees off-set that cost. While there is a general trend of pushing back against submission fees, you may still choose to submit to a venue that charges them, and that is your prerogative and your privilege.


WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU THINK ABOUT?

Permanent website link: Most publishers will have their own websites where they will post their calls for submissions. Otherwise, an editor may post the call for submissions on their own website/blog. This gives you a chance to check out the oeuvre of the editor/publisher.

Lately, with the popularity of crowdfunding, the submission guidelines may themselves on on a Kickstarter page. But they are usually also replicated elsewhere.


Publisher website and catalog: Is this the publisher’s first shot at the anthology rodeo? There isn’t anything wrong if it is, but you should be aware of this going in! If not, look at their previous anthologies. What is their usual target market? Or are you familiar with these works in your genre? Are these books you feel you should be reading?

Often, this is also where you get a sense of their publishing model as well. Where do they usually sell, as mostly ebooks on Amazon, print books? No one’s gonna tell you their print run in guidelines because that’s not usually the author’s business, but knowing where the books are gonna sell is pretty helpful.


Hope this all is all informative, even if these are questions you never asked!!!

#MYWritersBookFest2015

The Malaysian Writers group is holding the #MYWritersBookFest2015 throughout October!

A BookFest to celebrate the first anniversary of the Malaysian local writing community that transcends genre, language, function, medium and experience levels. #MYWriters will be hosting a month-long festival throughout October 2015 by holding mass writer appearances, book sales & signings at various locations in Malaysia.

Meet and mingle with local writers, find out about their writing and publications, buy their books or bring your own copies, take wefies and get their autographs!

We are giving out free bookmarks for this occasion! Remember to bring your bookmark along when you visit the locations and get your check-in stamps. Get 3 stamps to be eligible to join the Lucky Draw during our Finale.

Check out the schedule below and mark your calendars now!

3rd October (Sat), 4pm-5pm – Supermart Pop @ Art Row, Publika, KL
FEATURED WRITERS: Gina Yap Lai Yoong, Hanno Frank, Heidi Shamsuddin, Ivy Fung, Lilian Chan, Prose-ACK, Steven Steel

4th October (Sun), 4pm-5pm – The Refinery, d7 Sentul, KL
FEATURED WRITERS: Dennis De Witt, Elizabeth Marshall, Fadli Al-Akiti, Frances Yip Ipohgal, Gina Yap Lai Yoong, Suscelah Fonseka

10th October (Sat), 4pm-5pm – Zest Cafe, Bangsar South, KL
FEATURED WRITERS: Arthur TY Foo, Chuah Guat Eng, Farouk Gulsara, Ivy Fung, Tina Isaacs, Tutu Dutta

11th October (Sun), 11:30am-12:30pm – Occupy Beach Street, Whiteaways Arcade, Penang
FEATURED WRITERS: Anna Tan, Hanno Frank, Mark Walker, Mim Jalil, Kafayat Motilewa Quadri, Ksatriya, Lucille Dass, Regina Chew, Thirunavukkarasu Karasu, Wilson Khor WH, Yew Kam Keong

14th October (Wed), 4pm-5pm – Gerakbudaya Event Hall, PJ
FEATURED WRITERS: Alois Leinweber, Joaquim Huang, Liew Suet-Fun, Michael Soong

17th October (Sat), 3pm-6pm – Readings @ Seksan Gallery, Bangsar, KL (with Readings of Excerpts)
FEATURED WRITERS: Chuah Guat Eng, Farouk Gulsara, Gwen Smith, Leon Wing, Martin Bradley, Norhafsah Hamid, Tina Isaacs, Uthaya Sankar SB

18th October (Sun), 3pm-5pm – MPH, Nu Sentral, KL
FEATURED WRITERS: Azida Ishak, Carol Fung, Choon Ean Khaw, Fadzlishah Johanabas, Fahmi Mustaffa, Gavin Yap, Iwan Reaz, Khairul Anuar / Anuar Shah, Kushairi Zuradi, Lydia Teh, Melizarani T Selva, Nahari Mastono Arukin, Rumaizah Abu Bakar, Shaz Johar, Steven Steel, Tutu Dutta, Zan Azlee

24th October (Sat), 12pm-1pm – Precious Pages Bookstore, Penang
FEATURED WRITERS: Gina Yap Lai Yoong, Hannah Yeoh, Hanno Frank, Josephine Yoong, Mark Walker, Mim Jalil, Lucille Dass, Wilson Khor WH, Yew Kam Keong

24th October (Sat), 2pm-6pm – The Other Festival, Ipoh
FEATURED WRITERS: Atikah Abdul Wahid, Julya Oui, Marc de Faoite, Ted Mahsun, Terence Toh, Tina Isaacs

25th October (Sun), 4pm-5pm – Kafe Buku Oakheart, Bangi
FEATURED WRITERS: Damd Ahmad, Faratira Aimiza, Farouk Gulsara, Gina Yap Lai Yoong, Hafiz Latiff, Khaliq Ghazali, Nahari Mastono Arukin, Sayidah Mu’Izzah, Tina Isaacs

29th October (Thurs), 8:30pm-10:30pm – If Walls Could Talk (Poet’s Day), Gaslight Café, KL (with Poetry Performance)
FEATURED WRITERS: Anne Varghese, Dhiyanah Hassan, Kathleen Choo, Lara Hassan, Liew Suet-Fun, Wong Pek Mei & Sliz, Melizarani T Selva, Michelle Leong, Raja Rajeswari Seetha Raman, Sheena Baharudin

31st October (Sat), 3:30pm-5pm – Dataran Underground, KL (FINALE)
FEATURED WRITERS: Adib Zaini, Adifitri Ahmad, Amir Hafizi, Anna Tan, Anne Varghese, Atikah Abdul Wahid, Asmar Shah, Azida Ishak, Bissme S, Chuah Guat Eng, Eeleen Lee, Eileen Lian, Emmy Hermina Nathasia, Fadzlishah Johanabas, Farouk Gulsara, Foo Sek Han, Gina Yap Lai Yoong, Hani Suraya, Heidi Shamsuddin, Iwan Reaz, Julya Oui, Khairul Anuar / Anuar Shah, Kris Williamson, Kushairi Zuradi, Leon Wing, Lokman Hakim, Mamu Vies, Melizarani T Selva, Mimi Mashud, Muhammad Azhar Abdullah, Muhammad Fatrim, Nadia Khan, Natasha Gideon, Ninot Aziz, Roy Ablah, Sabah Carrim, Steven Steel, Syafiq Aizat, Syahmi Hafizuddin, Ted Mahsun, Thirunavukkarasu Karasu, Tina Isaacs, Tutu Dutta, Uthaya Sankar SB, Zedeck Siew

Click on the event names for links to the FB event pages. For more info, view updates at https://mywritersbookfest2015.wordpress.com or email us at malaysianwritersgroup@gmail.com

Crowdsourced Storytelling: Twas an Unfortunate Night

Members of the #MYWriters Facebook group* participated in a crowdsourced storytelling exercise where each person takes turns to contribute two words to complete a story.

We have 1,215 members to date, and about 50 members participated in the online exercise within an 8 hour time span, so you can imagine the awesome and creative havoc caused!

Here is our combined story:

 

TWAS AN UNFORTUNATE NIGHT…

It was an unfortunate evening, when little Brandon ventured out to see of Devil’s Wearing Prada red stilettos. Brandon thought he died of drinking. When suddenly, Xenovia flew past the green dragon with no strings attached. Then she drank bourbon while spit dribbled off her pointed chin, (in) drunken stupor, reflecting despair.

The dragon wept fire.

Wine bottles and cheese start molding into gold. Brandon was elatedly pungent. But then, alive again. A wizard picked up their hat together with musty mold. A robot belted out My Heart with gusto. The Catalonian openly bleeding all over the face of diarrhea. But now – not now. Then when? One day. When the sun turned green. Or the moon moons. Moon turns into sushi.

Sun down.

Glittery vampire sucked oranges and vomiting green dragons. And plenty of them. Of slimy bloody oranges. A witch juicily smiles, rubbing her sides with her Sharpie marker that’s shaped to fit his nose so rotund and photogenic, yet probing.

Branded decided and dreamt about his again, against the wall. Fatalistic fate woohoo, danced the night and go to sleep. In Neverland, Salak Selatan.

Samir now and dream. He wasn’t. What happened?

Not again!

Will I? No siree. He refused to abide to unrealistic electric dreams. Too weird.

He wanted to kentut all over, but then could not vanish completely in putrid. And then, somewhat awkwardly, stumbled on reciting poems.

Suddenly, lightning. Brightened the mystic night and split into mountains.

Meanwhile, the postman said, “Flying mushroom,” when he cart-wheeled continuously and entered while munching Mr. Potatoes. Blue Cheese was not fully aware that everyone are psychotic like me.

But then, my cow gone crazy over the KL tower despite (the) gruesome green warts.

“Look up!” said none of the idiotic fools.

Who usually sleep naked and play sadistic Monopoly? Soap bubbles, when will I see soap bubbles floating on lucid dreams in my secret territory, silly imagination, like dancing runs wild?

Hates chatting, standing erect suspense is.

The murder that still tickles me. The murderer got caught just as she undressed. The moment only to whip out an itsy ice cream coated cake.

But, alas…

Sugary cocaine, my friend.

“No!!!” yelled Yilda Runeguts.

Brandon glanced up at the cataclysmic being who seemed lost but found pieces of tuna-filled pitas laid out on brown Sunshine bread. So he tembak kaukau until his exposed heart bled profusely.

THE END

 

Well done, everyone!

We’ve just proven that writing can be fun too!

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*This writer is founder and moderator/administrator of the Malaysian Writers Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/malaysianwriters/ which is described as “A platform and community for writers of fiction, non-fiction or poetry of Malaysian citizenship/permanent residence or non-Malaysians who write and work in/from Malaysia; who are published or aspiring; writing in any genre, via any medium and in ANY language (includes short story writers, columnists, journalists, bloggers, editors, copywriters, scriptwriters and literary translators).

Don’t Give Up Your Day Job!

by Tina Isaacs


An interesting discussion began amongst my local writing community today. One lady was making plans to write full time and posed the question in our group timeline inquiring on the kinds of jobs she could do if her writing career didn’t work out.

Having contemplated the same idea myself not so long ago, I shared with her an epiphany that came to me after interacting with many writers from around the globe. And so I thought I’d share it here, in case anyone else is facing similar crossroads in their writing careers.


Now, lemme give it to you straight:

Many, or I should say most, writers DO NOT make enough money to subsist on writing alone. Especially if you have other dependents too. There are even writers who have had NYT Bestsellers who cannot afford to give up their regular paying jobs, although they consider themselves ‘full time’ writers. 

The fact is, unless you have written a multi-million bestseller like JK Rowling, Stephen King, Nicholas Sparks, Harumi Murakami, EL James and Stephanie Meyer, or unless you have a millionaire husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend/life partner who is willing to pay for everything while you write, write and do nothing but write, then hell, yeah, you have to juggle work and writing at the same time. 

Ask any of the prolific writers in your community whether they have given up their paying jobs to survive purely on book sales, and I can guarantee you find less than a handful who’d say yes (and not be lying to your face).

One established Malaysian writer told me: it’s great pocket money and that once-a-year-bonus to buy that little something extra for yourself, but it doesn’t pay the bills.  

So, as someone put it, DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB! 


If you are one of those who must do something related to writing, then there are many jobs out there that actually assist you in furthering your writing career while you do it: 

  • get a Masters/PhD and become a college lecturer teaching English or creative writing, or with an English or Literature Degree so you can teach English or creative writing in schools/learning centers; 
  • become an editor, proofreader or copywriter for a periodical or publishing house [some of these positions require an English Degree too, although some allow you to advance based on experience];
  • freelance by writing and submitting articles or blogposts for periodicals which pay you. Many are constantly looking for well written pieces. Here are some useful links: http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com/…/30-types-of…/ and http://thewritelife.com/find-freelance-writing-jobs/… and you can find more if you participate in your local writing community and follow their bulletin boards;
  • get a regular job writing blog or web-content, or book reviews;
  • become a news journalist, reporter or columnist for a print/online periodical;
  • if you are good at translations, try to get into literary translations;
  • many writing competitions have cash prizes too, so you can give those a try while you practice your writing.

There are thousands of options out there; you just have to know where to look. But, be warned, it’s also a highly competitive market, so you have to be tenacious, hard working and good at it before you can make any headway.


When I had reached those crossroads in my writing career, and after having gathered all the advise from fellow writers friends, I decided to write part-time while maintaining my day job to pay for monthly expenses. Surprisingly, after making that decision, it lightened a burden I hadn’t even realized I was carrying, worrying too much about which career path to take.

Oh, I haven’t given up on my dream to push for a successful writing career. It’s just that having come to that epiphany, I write with a managed expectation of what a writing career can bring me.

With clearer expectations in mind, I began figuring out ways to make all my professional experiences count in my fiction. This I did by weaving into it little anecdotes and observations during my lifetime as a litigation lawyer, because one always remember that a good writer aims to WRITE WHAT ONLY YOU CAN WRITE (in other words, ask yourself what makes you unique?); this is what translates into your individual writing voice. 

Also, I went on to capitalize on my legal experience by integrating it into my writing, starting with my two non-fiction side-projects – a guide to legal practice for newbies, and a book on Copyright & the Author.  

Calendar of Annual Writer / Literary Events in Malaysia and Asia Pacific

 

CalendarI was compiling a list of literary events and festivals for writers in the geographic region near Malaysia, for the Malaysian Writers community*, so that we as writers can be more aware of promotional and professional development opportunities nearby.

It occurred to me that other writers might benefit from it too.

So, here it is..


 

JANUARY

Kolkata Literary Meet

 

International Kolkata Book Fair

 

Pesta Buku Selangor

 

FEBRUARY

Kolkuta Literature Festival

 

Apijay Kolkata Literary Festival (AKLF)

 

Delhi Poetry Festival, followed by New Delhi World Book Fair

 

Taipei International Book Exhibitipn

 

Bangkok International Book Fair

 

Digital Writers Festival (ONLINE)

 

MARCH

Asia Pacific Poetry Festival

  • 2015 – 1-7Mar, Hanoi, Vietnam
  • see Vietnam Tourism guide http://www.vietnamtourism.com

 

Irrawady Literary Festival

 

The Bookworm Literary Festival

 

Asean Literary Festival 2015

 

APRIL

Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair

 

MAY 

Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival

 

JB Arts Festival, inclusive of JB Writers & Readers Festival

 

Auckland Writers Festival

 

Sydney Writers Festival

 

Asian Festival for Children’s Content Singapore

 

Emerging Writers Festival

 

JUNE

A Cooler Lumpur Literary Festival (formerly Kuala Lumpur International Literary Festival)

 

SAARC Literary Festival on South Asian Poetry

 

JULY

Hong Kong Book Fair

 

AUGUST

Bendigo Writers Festival

 

Melbourne Writers Festival

 

SEPTEMBER

Brisbane Writers Festival

 

OCTOBER

Asia Pacific Writers & Translators Conference

 

Bali Emerging Writers Festival (BEWF) / Ubud Writers & Readers Festival

 

Singapore Writers Festival

 

Hong Kong International Literary Festival

 

NOVEMBER

Victoria Writers Festival

 

Georgetown Literary Festival (GTLF)

 

Hong Kong International Literary Festival

 

 

I would welcome and be grateful for any input to correct the above details or any omissions. Feel free to drop me a note! 😉

 

 

*This writer is founder and moderator/administrator of the Malaysian Writers Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/malaysianwriters/ which is described as “A platform and community for writers of fiction, non-fiction or poetry of Malaysian citizenship/permanent residence or non-Malaysians who write and work in/from Malaysia; who are published or aspiring; writing in any genre, via any medium and in ANY language (includes short story writers, columnists, journalists, bloggers, editors, copywriters, scriptwriters and literary translators).