Tag Archives: submissions

Guy’s Top Five Favorite Publishers

I’ve been writing since the mid-1970’s. During that time, I’ve assembled a huge assortment of trunk stories. I could just let them rot away, but I don’t like to waste my time and energy. I poke at them every so often until I find a suitable market and — this part is important — I’m comfortable with the quality of the story.

Over the years I’ve found plenty of different types of markets, ranging from “for the love” to pro-level. If one of my trunk stories will work for a non-paying market, I don’t mind sending it in to the editor. I feel that it’s a better location than a hard drive that will eventually fail. Because I’m a prolific writer, it doesn’t take me long to produce stories. Now that I’m switching to dictation software because of worsening carpal tunnel issues, I expect my output will expand even further.

Here are some of my current favorites:

WordFire Press

This is a small-to-middling sized pro-level Colorado press owned by Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta. I’ve done some minor work for them in the past, and they’re publishing a novel I co-wrote with a couple of friends. Everyone there is wonderful to work with, and I know many of them personally.

Getting published by WordFire means your work will appear next to books by Kevin and Rebecca, who are both award-winning and NY Times/USA Today bestsellers, plus the likes of Brian and Frank Herbert, Alan Dean Foster, Alan Drury (Pulitzer Prize winner), and a host of name-brand, top-tier authors. An added benefit is the ability to attend some of the best conventions as a WordFire author.

Wolfsinger Press

This is another Colorado publisher, albeit a micro press. Wolfsinger puts out several unique anthologies every year, and sometimes I write a story for them just because the anthology concept excites my muse. They respond to questions quickly and actually do thorough edits.

My story, “Grubstake”, appears in Supernatural Colorado, and a story I’ve sent in to their Love ‘Em, Shoot ‘Em anthology was accepted. They sometimes have guest editors, so it’s nice to work with new folks in a familiar environment. Although this press has a token payment and royalty setup, I can report that I actually do receive royalty statements as promised, which can be a rarity with the token-payment or royalty-only presses. They do offer discounted copies for contributors.

Another benefit of Wolfsinger is they also have a couple of fascinating eZines (The Lorelei Signal and Sorcerous Signals). I’ve been published in The Lorelei Signal, and they also put out a compilation in ebook format. Both can add to your bibliography.

James Ward Kirk Publishing

This micro press run by (no surprise) author and editor James Ward Kirk puts out several unique anthologies per year, plus a couple of annuals. This is a for-the-love or a token payment press (two $25 awards for the top two submissions). I love many of their anthology concepts and come up with complete story ideas by the time I’m done reading the submission requirements on their open call page.

I’ve had stories accepted for several of their anthologies, including “We Are Dust and Shadow” for the anthology of the same name; “A Gift of Light” in Bones II; and “The Box”, which appears in Ugly Babies 2.  I also have a story in their horror sampler and the Barnyard Horror publications. The anthology editors are great to work with, and they offer good discounts for contributors.

Garden Gnome Publications

Another oddball small press that publishes an interesting series of anthologies called Biblical Legends, amongst others. I co-wrote a couple of stories with Tonya L. De Marco about two robots who go about doing horrible things to humans — enough so that they help to create some of the legends and mythologies we have to this day. “One Bit Off” appears in their Garden of Eden anthology, and “Garbage” appears in Sulphurings.

Garden Gnome has branched out from ebook-only to some limited print versions. I am always pleased when I have more print books that I can pile on a table at a convention. This is a token-payment publisher, but they’re fun to work with.

Daily Science Fiction

If you’re not signed up for their weekday free stories that appear in your inbox, you’re missing out. This is a small SFWA-approved venue that pays better than pro rates. When they picked up my short story, “A Case of Curiosities”, I was qualified to join SFWA. This is a tough market to crack, but certainly is worth your efforts.

The owners are the editors, and they enjoy a wide range of micro-to-short speculative fiction. They do enjoy mild horror (with a speculative bent) and fantasy. DSF should be one of the first group of publishers you send your best work to. They also on occasion publish a gigantic print anthology of the best works that appeared that year.

♦ ♦ ♦

The bad thing about letting you know about my favorite publishers is that I can now expect more competition for slots. I would suggest you buy several works from each publisher you’re interested in working with to see the types of stories they pick up. Besides, it’s important to support the publishers we all want to succeed.

Best of luck with your submissions!



About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

The Art of the Cover Letter

Look at you writing that cover letter like a champion!

Perhaps the most dreaded feedback for a writer or a skyscraper architect to receive is: “Can you make it shorter?” For some writers, this is one of the most painful parts of the editing process. For me, it’s… well, I actually haven’t gotten that note before. I write short, and I friggin’ like it that way.

Turns out I’m not alone. I’ve received some significant compliments from editors and publishers on my short, concise, and to-the-point cover letters. I found this curious, until I realized I have lots of experience with cover letters. At a former job, I was first point of contact for applicants and read literally thousands of cover letters. I’d taken note of what worked, what didn’t, and what could work if finessed. Below, I’ll give you that basic structure based on what you’re submitting to an editor or publisher.

The most important thing to mention is that if you can turn the basic into the unique without it being overblown, braggy, or down-right weird, then do it. Your cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself in a provocative, distinct way. Take advantage of the opportunity!



(A)It’s my pleasure to submit SHORT STORY/MANUSCRIPT TITLE for your consideration for PUBLICATION NAME.

(B1) [If you are submitting a novel, directly go in to a little about yourself. In this section about yourself, be sure to mention:

  • If you have met the editor or publisher at an event, immediately remind them when and where you two met, and remind them that they asked to see your work
  • Published works (if you have many, choose your top three or just use the titles of the magazines, for example: My short stories have appeared in Intergalactic Medicine Show, Pseudopod, and Daily Science Fiction.)
  • Ongoing works such as blogging, reviews, or newspaper/magazine columns
  • Soon-to-be published works
  • Long-term works (ex. “I am currently writing a horror fantasy series set in 1920’s Brooklyn.”)
  • Any other writing-related credits (editor, copywriter, etc.)
  • One or two sentences about yourself including your day job, inspirations, aspirations, unique experience you hold that might be attractive to a publisher — this is an opportunity to hook an editor with your personality]

(B2) [If you are submitting a short story, I recommend first talking about the story:]


(C1) [For submitting a novel, now is the time to go into 1-3 paragraphs about your story. This will be different than what is explained in B2, as you need to go into a longer pitch of your novel. In these paragraphs, take the editor on a small tour of what they can expect to read in your novel. Go over the main characters and basic plot, then mention the themes you delve into as well. After the long pitch, if you haven’t mentioned it already, state your target audience for your novel, approximate word count, and any other information you feel is important for the editor to know. For example, mention that you gave your novel to ten 5th grade boys (your target audience), and provide quotes of from the boys detailing how they loved the book.]

(C2) [For submitting a short story, now is the time you can talk about yourself. Keep it to a paragraph and just list your past, ongoing, and soon-to-be publications, and a fact or two about yourself (where you live, that you are a professional skydiver, that you have 49 grandchildren, etc.).]

(D) [Thank the editor for their time in this short section, and put it in your own words.] I appreciate your time, and thank you for taking a look at my story/novel “SHORT STORY TITLE”/NOVEL TITLE. I look forward to hearing from you.

(E) [Your personal information goes here such as:]

PHONE NUMBER (optional)

As you may have noted, a cover letter for a novel will be a bit longer than a short story, but both should be limited to between four and six paragraphs. You don’t want the editor spending their precious time reading your cover letter. You want to leave them intrigued as to who you are and excited to read your story. So much so, they’ll jump right into reading your manuscript.

Additional (and helpful) resources:

  1. Submission and Formatting Basics: http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the-day/how-to-submit-short-stories-formatting-basics
  2. Submissions 101: http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/literary-journal-submissions-101
  3. Writing a Query Letter: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-write-the-perfect-query-letter

The Submission Sanity Saver

Are you a disorganized person? It’s okay to admit it. We’re friends here, and this is a safe place. Here, I’ll go first. I am extremely disorganized. I don’t keep a calendar. My desk at work is a mess. I consider organizing things to be a hassle, and I detest hassle. I’ve long skated by on a better-than-average memory. That document from last week? It’s in the third pile on the right, the one that’s teetering on the edge of falling.

The problem is, as I’ve gotten older, my brain has gotten more full and, well, older. My once-vaunted memory has begun to fail me. Sooner or later I’m going to have to admit that, and start being more organized like a normal person. But probably not.

Still, there’s one organizational decision I’ve made that I don’t regret in the slightest: surrendering my short story submission process to Duotrope. Duotrope is a one-stop-shop website for submissions. Short and long fiction, nonfiction and poetry, Duotrope has you covered. They currently list over 5,000 markets, and continuously update their list as new markets become available. They feature a robust search engine where you can specify which criteria you are looking for in a market. They list acceptance rates, pay scale (or lack thereof), average response speed (or lack thereof) and each market’s page on Duotrope links to the market’s main site.

Simply put, I would be utterly lost without Duotrope.

Every time you submit, you complete an entry with the name of your story (stored in your account database), the venue and the date of submission. Duotrope starts counting days. When you get a response,  you update the entry, and the site uses your inputs to improve its own venue database. Better still, they keep records of every story you’ve submitted and which markets you’ve submitted it to. They even compare your acceptance rate to others who have submitted to the same market and give you a sense of how you’re doing.

Just this morning I was thinking to myself that I had a story out on submission. I couldn’t remember which venue or, honestly, which story, but I was fairly certain I’d submitted it awhile ago. Surely, I thought, I should have heard something by now. I logged into my account to see if I’d run over the expected amount of time for this market. Turns out my memory just wasn’t so hot (damn you, age!). I’ve still got sixteen days left until the story has been out past this market’s normal response times.

Now for the bad news. While the site was free when I began using it, eventually soliciting donations was apparently not enough to pay their bills. They have since gone to a pay system, which is unfortunate for those without much disposable income, but at $50.oo a year, I consider it a steal and well worth it. They even offer a free trial! If you do a lot of submitting and have been trying to keep track of it all yourself, I strongly suggest you consider giving them a try.

Greg LittleGregory D. Little is the author of the Unwilling Souls, Mutagen
Deception, and the forthcoming Bell Begrudgingly Solves It series. As
a writer, you would think he could find a better way to sugarcoat the
following statement, but you’d be wrong. So, just to say it straight, he
really enjoys tricking people. As such, one of his greatest joys in life is
laughing maniacally whenever he senses a reader has reached That
Part in one of his books. Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, it doesn’t matter. They
all have That Part. You’ll know it when you get to it, promise. Or will
you? He lives in Virginia with his wife, and he is uncommonly fond of

Thoughts From The Slush Pile ““ Success

I’ve recently become a slush pile reader for Flash Fiction Online. In my opinion, good Flash Fiction (a complete story of 500 to 1,000 words) is harder to write than a complete novel. In one of the slush rounds – reiewing stories their writers hope to have FFO publish – I moved two of the stories to the next phase of consideration. Why?

One was science fiction, and one was fantasy/slipstream. Even though the two stories were nothing alike, they had some common traits that helped them move to the next round. So what did they do right?

(1) The prose was clean – no typos, no major grammar problems.

(2) The main characters were well-defined and interesting.

(3) Each character had an interesting problem to solve. One wanted to go home, and the other had a major decision to make. The second story violated my withholding “rule”. It didn’t tell me something the main character would know – what the decision was. I didn’t mind the withholding this time because the point of the story wasn’t the decision, but how the character makes it.

(4) The writers had strong “voices”. A writer’s voice is different than technical proficiencies. It’s a little hard to define. Voice is the personality of the writer coming through his or her words. It makes the story unique. Five people can write a story about a werewolf’s first transformation. While the plotline will be the same for each, the stories will be told very differently because of “voice”. For these submissions to FFO, the fantasy’s voice was a bit irreverent and humorous. The science fiction voice was curious and intelligent.

(5) They were complete stories with beginning, middles and ends. Rust Hills said “a short story tells of something happening to someone” in his Writing in General and the Short Story in Particular. Submissions that aren’t complete are character sketches or scenes. While they may be fabulous, they aren’t what FFO is looking for.

(6) Setting. It’s difficult to convey a full setting in 1000 words or less, but both of these stories gave me enough of one that I could see where the characters were. One in deep space, and one in a somewhat run down kitchen.

Note the order I put the above-list in?

I did for a reason.

Your story might have all the other elements, but if it is riddled with grammatical errors, I won’t read on and find that out. If the story is readable, I look for a character to care about. And so on. My list isn’t absolute. I might pass on a story with grammatical errors if the voice or characters are stunningly fabulous. Don’t put the bar to publication any higher by making technical errors.

What am I looking for as a slush pile reader?

The same thing I’m looking for when I buy a novel. A great story told well.

Keep writing, and keep submitting. I hope to see you all over at Flash Fiction Online.