AWP Giveaway!

Superstition Review table at the AWP writers' conferenceThis weekend Superstition Review has a table at the AWP Writers’ conference in Washington DC. We have some really cool swag, including mugs, t-shirts, and notebooks we are raffling to convention-goers. If you’re at AWP this weekend and want to win, follow us on twitter @Superstitionrev and send us a tweet saying “Hello @superstitionrev from AWP.” Winners will be announced on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 4PM. Swing by the Superstition Review booth (501-T) to claim your prizes.

You can find out more about AWP here: https://www.awpwriter.org/

 

Guest Blog Post, Martin Ott: Submission Season

Martin Ott‘Tis the Season

It’s September again, the time of year when thousands of hopeful writers hunch over keyboards with coffee breath and some nervousness, preparing their babies to go out into the world. Some of them will find good homes, but the vast majority will make their way back for some attention and TLC.

For more than twenty years, I have submitted fiction and poetry to magazines, anthologies, and online journals. In that time, I have published more than two dozen short stories and two hundred poems, received valuable feedback, and developed relationships with editors. I have also been rejected time and time again. I’d like to share some advice that might help prepare you for submission season.

Value Rejection

By my best estimate, I have had a submissions acceptance rate of approximately 2% over the past two decades. This means that I have also had more than 10,000 rejections. In my early days of submitting, the rejections filled more than one recycling bin. I used to save handwritten rejections, until even these became too numerous to keep in a drawer.

Success comes with rejection, and writers who take submissions personally are missing the point: readers and tastes evolve constantly at each and every magazine. I have placed work at magazines that have rejected me ten times or more.

Do Your Homework

Even if submitting is a number’s game, there are still things you can do to increase your odds. In any given year, I read twenty or so literary magazines to get an idea of what my peers are doing and to gauge the creative tastes of publications. I read submission guidelines carefully, and look at work on the magazine’s website that the editors have selected as representative work. Then and only then do I submit.

Now for Some Controversial Advice

There’s only one rule I break, something that other writers I know do as well. I occasionally submit work to magazines that don’t accept simultaneous submissions while I am submitting the same work to other places.

At writers’ conferences, I make it a point to talk with literary magazine editors that don’t accept simultaneous submissions. Many of them acknowledge that they know that most writers aren’t following this guideline, and many even privately agree with a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy.

You should still be careful if you take this approach. I place all publications into roughly five tiers. I only send out work a handful at a time to the top tier, and this is the only place I break the rule and send simultaneous submissions to (a few) magazines that have a non-simultaneous submission policy.

Has this approach ever backfired? Yes. One time I missed out on publishing a poem in a top magazine and had to explain that I didn’t follow guidelines. When I weigh this against the high-quality publications I’ve placed my work in by accelerating the submission process, I consider it an acceptable risk. I’m certain that there are writers and editors who will disagree with me on this point.

I also strongly believe that every magazine and publisher should accept simultaneous submissions, particularly from those of us not submitting through our agents or emailing to a friend on staff. Since magazines work in an open marketplace, why not show the same respect to writers?

Define Your Submission Strategy

I tend to be patient with my submissions. I wait for my work to make its rounds from tier to tier, before submitting them more widely to lower tiers. One fiction writer friend has told me that she submits to eleven places at a time. Another poet friend confided that he once sent more than a thousand poetry submissions in a year.

At any given time, my work is in circulation from three to ten places, depending on the tier. In recent years I have stopped submitting to my lowest tier, as the quality of publications is now more important to me than the quantity.

Be Nice to the Editors

When you receive a rejection, don’t freak out and write back to an editor to explain why she or he is wrong. This is doubly true for feedback. Unfortunately, this is a rule that I have broken. It cost me placing a poem once in an anthology, when I didn’t like the edits I was getting, and I shot back a late night discourteous email.

I have received valuable feedback on my work, including on a short story The Policy that I published at Superstition Review. Some of the best comments on the story came from student editors, and their feedback made it better.

It might also not be the smartest idea to harass editors about why they haven’t taken a look at your work yet. Here is a great set of guidelines from Mixer Publishing that made me laugh:

Please wait at least one year before querying about your submission. If you need to withdraw your submission before that, our submission system will notify us of the withdrawal. We no longer respond to queries regularly due to the large amount of submissions we have and due to time restrictions. If we receive multiple queries from you or antagonistic emails, we will put you on an industry blacklist that we share on a secret database with the most powerful writers and editors in the world, who are all usually in a bad mood or hungover.

Tools for Submissions

I have used many tools over the years to manage my submissions. Currently, I use a combination of Duotrope, New Pages, and the CRWROPPS email list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CRWROPPS-B/.

One of my friends has built a “secret’ weapon that he calls the Database of Doom. It contains a custom-made spreadsheet of publications by tiers and submission windows. He lets me use the Database of Doom, as long as I am mindful of its powers. Talk to your writer friends about submissions and share tips.

When in Doubt, Submit

Many writers disagree about the right time to submit.  I think that a writer should wait until the piece no longer feels like a draft. However, when in doubt, my advice is to submit and submit some more. You may be surprised by the results (publication, feedback) and even rejection may tell you something about the quality of your work.

 

“Submission Bombers” Organize to Bomb Editors

Submission Bombers, a new group founded by Weave editor Laura Davis, has organized a bunch of writers who all feel marginalized in some way, encouraging them all to submit to the same market at once. The idea of Submission Bombers is to give editors what they claim they do not get: submissions from “the marginalized.”

Read more on Davis’ blog. 

Behind the Scenes of Issue 9: Fiction

sarahmurray

Our Issue 9 Fiction Editor Sarah Murray shared these thoughts about the editorial process.

What was your favorite piece? 

“The Ruins” by Elizabeth Rollins. The details in her story were so vivid and poetic. I saw a vast humanity in her desert imagery. 

Where there any submissions that you would have liked to include but you weren’t able to? 

There were several. There was one about a little girl, set in India, that really left an impression on me. I think it was her agency that attracted me.

How do the editors choose which submissions to publish? 

Submissions were honed through a voting process, and after we had figured out which ones got the most responses from our editorial staff (Fiction had 4), we would have a round-table discussion about each one. We really do pay a lot of attention to each submission.

Were there times that you just knew that a piece was perfect for SR?

Yes. Those are the pieces that, when you read, you can’t shake them for days afterwards.

What were some of the common pitfalls of the submissions that were not selected?

That’s actually a really hard question to answer, because a lot of the submissions we received were very different from each other. We did receive quite a few pieces that we did not feel were fully developed yet, and at that point it’s really easy to decide that it’s not the right time to publish, both for Superstition Review and the author.

What was the strangest submission you read/reviewed?

In the realm of fiction, there isn’t really a lot that I would consider strange, because it’s an arena where anything goes. Otherwise, it’s not art.

Please sum up what you’ve gained from your internship this semester. Do you feel like you have a better grasp on editing? Literary magazines? Why?

This internship was my first experience with literary magazines from the inside. I know what it’s like to submit to one, but it’s comforting to now know what goes on behind the scenes. You learn how to navigate your audience better, working for one. It was definitely a great experience.

How has editing impacted your own writing?

Reading always affects writing, and I’ve read more literary fiction through this internship than I had before.

What were some of the obstacles you faced in preparing for Issue 9?

Mostly it was just the decisions on which stories to publish and which ones you had to say “no” to. Those were really, really difficult decisions.

Splash of Red

Splash of Red is an international online literary arts magazine that publishes poetry, fiction, non-fiction, art, interviews, and graphic narratives. They have published interviews with many Pulitzer Prize winners, US Poet Laureates, and acclaimed writers as well as some of the top editors and publishers in the country for their Industry Interview Series. What sets these interviews apart from others is that they focus on the readers of the literary magazine, many of whom are writers themselves. The interviews delve into writing processes of the interviewess, editing techniques, and strategies for getting around writer’s block. And the Industry Series investigates the other side of the table that writers rarely get a glimpse into in order to better their odds at getting their work published. But the meat of the publication is the fantastic submissions that come from all over the world.

The name of the publication comes from three inspirations: 1) the infamous red ink in draft after draft to get the best quality writing, 2) the blood and passion that goes into only the most skillfully crafted art, and 3) great work stands out just like a splash of red.
In 2010, Splash of Red organized numerous live events where authors came to speak with audiences for live Q and As. Some of the authors included Pulitzer Prize winning author Junot Diaz, famed writer Eleanor Herman, and Daniel Wallace – author of Big Fish, who spoke with eager audience members following a showing of the film based on his novel at a local independent theater. Additionally, the online magazine involved local communities by spearheading a special public mural on the New Jersey boardwalk in Asbury Park. Three artists chose three poems published on the website and created pieces of art inspired by and including those poems which were then painted in multiple, large murals across the backdrop of the mid-Atlantic.

Interested fans can follow Splash of Red on Twitter, Facebook, or become a member and get email updates about newly published work and events. One of the things they pride themselves on is creating an online literary arts community where readers can post comments on anything published on the website, submit art inspired by splashes of red for their Red Gallery, and involving members in creative decisions and directions for the publication including suggestions for interviewees.

If you take any one thing away from this blog post, take this: check it out. The website is www.SplashOfRed.net and feel free to peruse, read, comment, and investigate at your own leisure. Make it your own and enjoy!

Issue 9 Launch Party [Recap]

We would like to thank all of our staff, interns, contributors, readers, Art Intersection, Mind Over Batter, and Pomegranate Cafe for making the launch of Issue 9 a success. On launch day alone, we had over 460 visitors, half of which were new to Superstition Review. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Check out some of the photos from our Issue 9 launch party.

Cake pops courtesy of Mind Over Batter.

Poet Gregory Castle reads his work. Editor Jennie Ricks presents her favorite work from Issue 9.

Editor Caitlin Demo presents her favorite work from Issue 9.

Friends of Superstition Review

Artist Carolyn Lavender discusses her work.

Editor Sarah Murray presents her favorite work from Issue 9.

 

Some of our talented SR Interns. Friends of SR including Faculty Advisor Melanie Pitts, Professor Duane Roen, and Hannah Roen, who was an editor for Issue 1 of SR.

Artist Monica Martinez discusses her work.

Editor Corinne Randall presents her favorite work from Issue 9.

 

Editor Christine Peters presents her favorite work from Issue 9.

 

Delicious vegan rolls courtesy of The Pomegranate Cafe.

 

Contributors and staff mingling before the presentation.

 

 

 

 

Delicious hummus & veggies courtesy of The Pomegranate Cafe.

Editor Christine Truong presents her favorite piece from Issue 9