Submission is a hideous word. In the fight world, it means, “You just lost.” In other circles it means that someone is quitting, giving up, docile, meek, a loser. How wonderful for us writers that each time we want to send out a piece, we have to visit the magazine’s online site and click “submission.” It’s almost like being on the gallows after a long manhunt: “I give up. This is futile. I submit. Kill me now.”
Fortunately, some magazines make the effort to entertain us before they slaughter us. In fact, I’ve belted out some huge guffaws reading some magazines’ online submissions rules.
For instance, the Jersey Devil Press warns writers who don’t follow the rules that they “will most likely be met with a severe and perpetual frowning upon and potentially a cursing of your name.”
The Molotov Cocktail is a bit more stern, telling writers what kind of stories not to send: “If you send any of these, they will make us want to punch you in the face.” They go on to tell unpublished writers not to mention that they are unpublished. “If you hope to make us your first, we would prefer seduction over pity-(coitus)”
Some instructions are funny without trying to be. For instance, if you plan on submitting to the Vestal Review, they would like you to know that they love humor submissions:
“Vestal Review is a magazine for flash (short-shorts) fiction. We realize that there are different definitions of what a flash story is and all of them have merit. In our definition, a flash story is no longer than 500 words and it has a plot. If it’s longer than 500 words and/or has no plot, we are not interested. We are also not interested in porn, racial slurs, excessive gore, or obscenity. On the other end of the spectrum, no children’s or preachy stories either, please. Our target audience is people over 18, so R-rated content is OK, but not X-rated. Most genres, other than children’s syrupy romance or hard science fiction are accepted, and we love humor.” Yeah, sounds like it!
Sometimes, authors aren’t sure if their story is right for a particular market. Space Squid makes it easy for them: “Note: Space Squid will no longer read humor stories about aliens abducting and raping people. Seriously, every third submission we get is like that and we believe that, although very profound for abductees, these have nothing left to say to the rest of us.”
Defenestration is an online journal that spells out their submission process in three simple steps:
A: You complete your masterpiece; it’s hilarious.
B: You convert your masterpiece into electrons, which are beamed to the cortex of a giant robot via lasers.
C: The robot vomits the submission into the editors office. Judgment is passed. Dreams are crushed. Dynasties are forged.”
They would also like a brief biography with the submission, and quite frankly, they don’t care what it says: “We don’t care if your biography is full of lies. If you want to tell us that you live on the moon and once punched koala in the face, be our guest.”
The Escape Pod would like your email address. Your MAIN email address: “If you give us three email addresses and say ‘Use this one on Tuesdays, and this one when Neptune is ascendant,’ we’ll probably forget.”
Hey, nobody wants the hangman telling them knock-knock jokes while he’s fitting a noose around their neck. However, when committing the painful act of submission, a little gallows humor sure helps.