Kicking the Bucket With Authority
By Kelley Davidson, Graduate Assistant, Bluegrass Writers Studio
How To Get Out of The Slush Pile and Into My Heart
During Winter Residency 2k15, Ty Franck (one half of the genre titan James S.A. Corey) had this to say about the success rate of submitting work to journals and other publications: “Slush readers are typically poor grad students or interns who are tired and swamped with homework. They’re dying for a reason to throw your manuscript in the garbage. If you don’t have them hooked by the first few sentences, you’re doomed.” He couldn’t have said it better.
As Editor-in-Chief of Jelly Bucket, I’m spending most of my workdays going through the slush pile now that our reading period is open. While I like to think that I am a pretty neutral reader, there are a few tips that I’d like to dish out to potential submitters in order to increase the chances of publication within our (or any) journal.
First of all, make sure you’re submitting the correct manuscript to us. You would be shocked at how many pieces I’ve already had to reject because the author had simply selected the wrong file to attach. On several occasions I was hooked into the first few pages of a manuscript, only to find it cut off mid-sentence. So when you’re submitting, make sure you’re being mindful. Create a desktop folder of all your complete, polished work and only select submissions from that folder.
Secondly, send us a cover letter. Please do this. After the first few rounds of cuts, I am admittedly much more partial to someone who takes the time to craft a little bit about themselves and share that with me. However, I recommend that you refrain from name-dropping and/or citing every single publication you’ve ever been in. If you’ve had great successes with publication and brushes with fame then I congratulate you, I really do, but please don’t send me a cover letter that’s got two sentences about you and three pages of your publication history followed by an itemized list of every autographed book you own. 5 or 6 listings of your most recent publication history will suffice, and it will give me an idea of whether or not your work is a fit for us.
Lastly, remember to follow a few simple (albeit a little tedious) guidelines, as far as your manuscript format goes. Put your name, address, phone number and e-mail address on the left-hand side of the first page, followed by the work’s word count. Remember to number your pages and insert a header with your last name beside them. While I am not a complete stickler about this rule, many many MANY publications won’t even bother reading the first word of your manuscript if you don’t follow these rules.
With these things in mind, please continue to bombard our Submittable account with your flawless poetry, prose, nonfiction, and text-as-art. Our reading period is open until June 1st.
Published on February 10, 2015