In the third of our occasional series on how to improve your chances with judges and editors, we say: do your homework: Is your product right for the publication/competition?
I know writers and poets hate to think of their work as being a “product” but that is how the wider publishing industry views the fruits of your labours, so that’s the term I’m going to use. And, just like any other product, your writing’s success is going to depend in part upon whether or not it is the right fit for the publication or competition you are submitting it to.
While you are clearly never (well I hope you are not) going to submit something that is wildly inappropriate (such as submitting a slasher-horror story to a romantic poetry competition) you will still greatly increase the chances of your success if your submission is at least compatible with and sympathetic to the nuances of the target publication or competition. And this means you need to do some initial research to check out what kind of work the publication currently publishes or what has won the competition in the past.
This is what I mean by “nuances” and it can be seen very clearly in genre fiction publications where, for example, all science fiction and fantasy (SF&F) is NOT the same. Check out Wikipedia and you will find there are literally dozens of categories and subcategories of SF&F.
In other words it doesn’t matter how good your work is, there is no point in submitting a piece of Space Opera to a publication that specialises in Steampunk. Or a series of linked haiku to a poetry competition that always gives prizes to traditional heavily end-rhymed poems about fluffy kittens. And let’s not even start on the complexities of “humorous” submissions, where one person’s joke is another’s groan.
The nuances are endless and you need to be aware of them or else you risk wasting your time and energy on submissions that are doomed from that outset to failure.
It is not that these publishers and organisers are being awkward or difficult, they are making a commercial decision. They know what their audiences like (and don’t like) and are basing their selection criteria on that. They’ve done their homework - and you also need to do your homework rather than just blast out submissions in all directions without first stopping to check if you are pointing at the right targets.
No, it's not an entry for the Eurovision Song Contest from some obscure Balkan country but the track Wiedźmowa (aka The Witchy Song) from the album Mszarna (Ptarmigan) by Ols aka the Polish singer-songwriter Anna Maria Oskierko. Ols describes her music as Dark-NeoFolk "delving into magical realms of misty forests and mysterious wetlands". (Ols is a Polish word for alder forest growing on swamps and marshes). All vocals, instruments, compositions, lyrics and arrangements by Anna Maria Oskierko.
The Weekend Starts Here! The latest Weird Tales Radio Show #16 is now available to download as a podcast
As you will have spotted by now, we are big fans of podcasting (and related internet radio/webcasting) but are podcasts the way to reinvent steam radio? Here's some interesting US-based research via TechCrunch to ponder...
And now for something different: Meet the Muggletonians - my latest WTF history tale on Ancient Origins
Well-dressed apes and Portuguese impressionists: two new pieces of short fiction on the Grievous Angel
Latest Weird Tales Radio Show - just finished editing: Faeries, King Arthur & Syd Barrett - what more do you want?
The Seventies Prog Rock band Yes are currently on tour again, so we couldn't resist this haiga by one of our regular contributors John Hawkhead!
Weird Tales Radio Show
Welcome to Episode 16 of the Weird Tales Radio Show. This is our our Friday the Thirteenth, All you ever wanted to know about Aleister Crowley but were afraid to ask, Get out your Hagstones to fight the Evil Eye, is it a Bird, is it a Plane, no it’s the Monster Owl Witch Show. The Big Interview is with Ashley Cowie and we talk about the myth surrounding Aleister Crowley: psychologist? Misunderstood trickster? The godfather of modern witchcraft and wicca? Music by Ozzy Osbourne.
Follow this link to access all episodes of the Weird Tales Radio Show podcasts. The page also contains links to all our platforms. Click the player button below to hear latest show.
New on the Grievous Angel
This is a stunning new piece of flash fiction, a masterclass in how to encapsulate a good story, characterisation and emotion in just 750 words by Andrew W. Mccullough. You can read it HERE free
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