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Electronic submissions

(34 posts)
  • Started 9 years ago by bradrtorgersen
  • Latest reply from bradrtorgersen

  1. There is a bit of a debate happening over at John Scalzi's blog right now, over electronic submissions.

    It got me to thinking: I really don't mind paper subs, and in fact sort of like the ritual of printing out a sub, putting it in an envelope, going down to the post office, etc.

    Gordon, I was wondering, what is the reason why F&SF still does over-the-transom submissions? There is a lot of conjecture at Scalzi's site -- and not just a little meanness -- but nobody has presented much in the way of practical fact.

    Personally, I wouldn't mind e-subs so much of there was an agreed upon industry standard for e-subs. All the short F and SF markets have different standards and I get annoyed having to tweak a MS every time I send to a new market, just to fit that market's particular or peculiar e-guidelines.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  2. Laird
    Member

    Hi, Brad:

    Yes, the usual pissing and moaning about one facet or another of F&SF is occuring in the usual quarters. Yawn.

    Google or a search on the F&SF threads (probably here -- I haven't checked) at Night Shade's boards will enlighten you as to Gordon's reasons for his submission preferences.

    As for this: "I get annoyed having to tweak a MS every time I send to a new market, just to fit that market's particular or peculiar e-guidelines."

    Airing peeves re: editorial sub preferences is not a winning strategy.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  3. Frankly, would be writers who focus on submission vectors are betraying their amateur status. Making a single submission easier is irrelevant. You should be hunkering down for the long haul.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  4. BrianJackson
    Member

    JackSkillingstead is right. If you can't take the heat, get the hell out of the uh, den where I keep my laptop...

    bradrtorgersen is also correct. I like to see paper flying all around like a ticker-tape parade over here. If I get a good ms dropped all over the floor it's like snow in California!

    Electronic submissions are wack. Do you want to live in the future, or do you want to do it the way Asimov and Bradbury did it? Those suckers had to daydream about electronic submissions, we get to thumb our nose at the concept!

    Lucky us!

    Brian J.

    PS.) Laird- at the first sign of urological difficulty in your fortunate life you will drop the term "pissing & moaning" from your bag of phrases.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  5. Laird
    Member

    Brian:

    I have been fortunate enough to avoid sleeping with women who might've caused any such difficulties.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  6. BrianJackson
    Member

    Lizaird-

    That's totally under the belt.

    I'll bet you have avoided sleeping with women entirely. Or versa vice.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  7. Laird
    Member

    "That's totally under the belt."

    Well, yeah. Literally.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  8. BrianJackson
    Member

    You think I wrote that accidentally?

    That's called a clever line.

    I actually write them all the time on here.

    I also switched around "vice versa" to be doubly clever, as vice versa means 'the other way around' and vice has a sexual connotation. Then I went back and misspelled your name so it looks like "lizard" while incorporating some carny like I was discussing last night in another thread. It's actually very multi-layered at only three lines long, 5 AM CA time for a non-tweaker.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  9. Laird
    Member

    Yes, I noticed. However, I don't think it's clever to goad Stephen King as you do.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  10. BrianJackson
    Member

    What do you think, Steve will roll his old bones out after me, or write me into a bad novel? I actually like a great many of King's books and I shouted some of them out in a backhanded way on that other thread.

    He seems like an interesting character, Jack Skillingstead. I've got nothing against him.

    I also have some cheap heat with Gordon Van Gelder and John Joseph Adams. You could certainly perceive I'm goading GVG & JJA, but I'd lay odds that both realize I admire them and The Magazine a great deal. I send them all my best, literally and literarily.

    I'm all about subtext.

    Brian Jackson

    Posted 9 years ago #
  11. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

    My stated reasons have been posted many times and some of them are outdated now, but the real reason---never before revealed!---is this:

    I want John Scalzi to call the magazines "irrelevant." It gives me a secret thrill every time he does that. Ooh, say it again, John!

    But seriously, there are several reasons and the biggest one is that there are *many* people submitting manuscripts and few of us here reading them. I remain unconvinced that we could install an electronic system that would let us handle our volume of submissions effectively.

    At least once a year I speak with an editor who does take e-subs and ask them about their system, what they like about it, what they don't. Most of them don't accept submissions that are longer than 5,000 words. None of them say the volume of submissions they receive matches ours. None of them have convinced me that we could make e-subs work for us.

    ---Gordon V.G.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  12. Thanks, Gordon. I suspected it would be a simple answer.

    Which is why it's just plain odd to see people kvetching, in hi-def hi-dudgeon, about snail mail subs.

    Seems like a tempest in a teacup.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  13. Standback
    Member

    I'm imagining a wonderful start-up here, catering to the lucrative demographic of fiction magazine publishers, which provides a product which A) handles e-submissions, and B) automatically screens out the ones riddles with a ridiculous amount of spelling errors, grammar gaffes, bizarre fonts, and last lines revealing that it was all a dream and the protagonist's name is Adam.

    Advanced versions of the product would recognize excessive use of silly-sounding fantasy names, flowery said-bookisms, and every trope in the Turkey City Lexicon.

    All this, of course, is mere preparation for truly advanced AI. When we develop that, our product will allow editors to construct a digital facsimile of themselves, and will promptly be able to get rid of all slush-readers. The only possible difficulty I foresee is when somebody sends in a virus-infected submission, and consequently the next issue of the magazine consists entirely of the full documentation for Microsoft Excel, with the editor's email address book printed as the editorial.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  14. BrianJackson
    Member

    Standback-

    An electric John Joseph Adams?

    vs. MechaGodzilla?!

    Posted 9 years ago #
  15. Kyte
    Member

    Many people don't fully understand the use of the semicolon; in the case of Brian, though, it's best to not correct unless he asks what he's done wrong.

    --girl with the English teacher for a mom

    Posted 9 years ago #
  16. BrianJackson
    Member

    Kyte;

    I was on wikipedia all day trying to find out how I've misused this splendid squiggle. Please, educate me.

    Then again, what if I just use it however I want?

    Joyce denoted speech with a hyphen, and not quotation marks.

    Should we dig him up and reprimand him or republish "Ulysses" with proper quotation marks?

    Or just let it go; live our lives, it's not worth the quibble.

    ;;Brian Jackson;;

    Posted 9 years ago #
  17. Standback
    Member

    I would totally read a magazine hyped as being "edited by MechaGodzilla."

    Posted 9 years ago #
  18. Anonymous

    does that mean you would read it in its entirety?

    Posted 9 years ago #
  19. Kyte
    Member

    Yes, of course you can use it however you like. But if you have an interest, you can learn the English teacher rule, then make an educated decision on whether to break it.

    As you mentioned, wikipedia (and elsewhere, I suppose) states that a semicolon may be used to "indicate interdependent statements." I asked my English teacher mother about this, and she said that the key is that the "statements" must be *main* clauses--in other words, things that could stand as separate sentences on their own.

    "In the 'interdependent statement' usage of a semicolon," she said, "you should be able to replace the semicolon with a period."

    "Then why don't you, like, just use a period?" I foolishly asked.

    "Because you want to want to emphasize the *interdependence* of the statements." I had to go over to the other topic to find the exact example that you were wondering about:

    The example: With a capacity for gold standard one-liners like that, and in the absence (vaccuum really) of Henny Youngman; have you ever considered a career in television or on the radio?

    "The main clause," she said, "is 'Have you ever considered a career in television or on the radio?'. The part before that is an introductory prepositional phrase--actually two of them conjoined by the 'and.'" She said that the book way of punctuating would be:

    Usual Style: With a capacity for gold standard one-liners like that and in the absence (vacuum really) of Henny Youngman, have you ever considered a career in television or on the radio?

    She said that the first comma is not needed (but don't get her started on commas). The introductory prepositional phrase ends after "Youngman," and this is normally separated from the independent clause by a comma. In modern usage you may omit the comma after a short introductory phrase.

    She said that you could also turn the first part into a main clause, like this:

    Alternative: You have a capacity for gold standard one-liners like that; so in the absence (vacuum really) of Henny Youngman, have you ever considered a career in television or on the radio?

    Next, she said that the hyphen in "one-liner" is by the book, and she droned about a spelling error and something about polite society, but fortunately I had tuned her out by then.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  20. BrianJackson
    Member

    Kyte-

    Thanks for this post. I'm man enough to admit that I needed it!

    Except I can't figure out if I will learn the usage of the semicolon now or avoid the usage of the semicolon from now on.

    I really thought that it was comma = pause / semicolon = long pause.

    I was also doing this thing where if I had used too many commas in a run-on sentence, I would substitute some semicolons in there to change it up instead of just correcting the flow of the line itself.

    I had an english teacher tell me in high school that a simple way to use a comma correctly is always before "but" or "and".

    I love to be reminded that I'm not as smart as I think I am. Ideally, that makes me smarter.

    But that was before the proper usage of the semicolon hit the table and bounced off the tray. Hmmn.

    Thanks!

    Brian J.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  21. Kyte
    Member

    Yes, the semicolon discussion was some fun. When I started high school, my mother bought me the Webster's Standard American Style Manual. It's easier to go to her for grammar questions than read the book, but only if I'm willing to sit still for the whole story.

    There are places where a semicolon can replace a comma combined with a conjunction. For example:

    I read the June issue, and it was excellent.
    I read the June issue; it was excellent.

    What I like to think about: The two versions mean the same thing, so why would you choose one vs the other? Pacing, tone, other nuances, I guess. Nine other semicolon uses in the manual, too.

    I'm sure it's not original with her, but my mother says to know the rules and then decide whether to break them. For creative writing, she says to not worry about the rules as you're writing; you can fix that up later. For business writing, she says to know and use the rules as you write: this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  22. MattHughes
    Member

    "I read the June issue, and it was excellent.
    I read the June issue; it was excellent.

    What I like to think about: The two versions mean the same thing, so why would you choose one vs the other?"

    Speaking as an old speechwriter, the second version is more emphatic. The "and" in the first one adds nothing and tends to prevent the speaker from taking that little pause that sets up the panache of "it was better."

    Posted 9 years ago #
  23. Kyte
    Member

    Thanks, Matt! That does help--enough so that I'll look for opportunities to use it myself.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  24. Daryl
    Member

    Jonathan Strahan, reviewer and anthology editor, just posted this on the topic:
    http://www.jonathanstrahan.com.au/wp/2009/07/06/paper-vs-electrons-submitting-stories-in-2009/

    He ends with:
    'blockquote'
    People have discussed the various reasons for refusing electronic submissions and they seem to come down to:

    (1) I’m afraid of the flood o’ crap and
    (2) I hate reading onscreen.

    I sympathise with (1), but honestly my experience is that it does not happen... [snip]

    ... I don’t, however, have much sympathy with (2). Setting aside people who have very real medical issues that make reading on screen a significant problem (and this is a real thing), there is little excuse for not reading onscreen in one form or another... [snip bit about getting an e-reader]

    ...By accepting electronic submissions you increase the range of writers will to submit stories to you. You increase your submission period by removing postal-time restrictions (a number of terrific stories I’ve published have come in on the deadline that I’d not have been able to consider if they’d been sent by post). You decrease your costs. You simplify management. You have faster, more immediate communications with your writers. All in all, I think the positives about accepting e-subs far outweigh the negatives.
    '\blockquote'

    I don't think he addresses Gordon's main concern -- Volume.

    --Daryl

    Posted 9 years ago #
  25. BrianJackson
    Member

    Daryl-

    Did you see the photo of the 10" stack of two days' worth of slush envelopes they posted here last May or the May before that? Dude, imagine that by a million if any jerk could just email in every assswipe thought they droodled out. Gordon has to make you jump through this hoop, it probably keeps out a couple of the kookier, lazier "aspiring authors".

    My guess is, if you want to impress an editor and make a sale, you do exactly what the editor says as far as format and submission process, and not give them any guff. They have a system, the system works for them, and The Magazine is better than ever at twice the size.

    I mail in my submissions. And it costs plenty, 'cause solid gold weighs a ton.

    Brian Jackson

    Posted 9 years ago #
  26. JonathanStrahan
    Member

    Daryl, you are completely correct. I don't address volume in my post, and Gordon rightly raises that in the comments to it. Volume is a significant issue. The likely percentage increase at the offices of F&SF, Asimov's and Analog, even if it's a relatively modest percentage increase, is still a large increase in what is already a huge number of submissions. I can understand why someone would not welcome that, and I can understand how it could present significant resourcing issues.

    As I said in my response to Gordon, it wasn't my intention to directly address the Big Three, though that is what I did on my blog. I can completely understand why he has the policies he has, though I do think for anyone with a lower volume of submissions there are real advantages to moving to electronic submissions.

    The one thing I regret the most about my post is that it can be read as saying that F&SF, Asimov's, and Analog are in some sense not 'credible' because they don't accept electronic submissions. That is not my view, was poorly expressed by me, and I apologise to Gordon, Sheila, Stan and all of their respective teams for any offence that impression may have caused.

    -- Jonathan

    Posted 9 years ago #
  27. I still don't believe making submissions easier is necessarily a good thing. How much effort is involved in printing a story and sending it via the post office? If you're cranky about doing that, how in the world will you find the patience to write seriously over the long haul? And with all due respect to Jonathan, why does anyone need "an excuse" for not reading online? Everybody reads online every day. And if we're not staring at a computer screen we're staring at a TV screen or a movie screen. I don't begrudge anyone their Kindle, but I'm a little tired of being chastised for failing to be in love pixels instead of ink.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  28. BrianJackson
    Member

    This from the guy with the word processor of the Gods.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  29. Gordon Van Gelder
    Editor/Publisher

    Jonathan---

    Thanks for your apology, which I gratefully accept. It did seem strange to me that you were knocking so many magazines when you've been very supportive in the past. (By the way, it's not just us and the Dell mags, is it? When I spoke with Shawna last October, she didn't indicate that REALMS OF FANTASY accepts e-subs either.)

    One point to note: I don't have a problem seeing an increase in submissions to F&SF. In fact, I welcome more submissions.

    It is not fear of more submissions that keeps me from accepting electronic submissions. Rather, when it comes to quantity, I don't believe we could handle our current volume of submissions if we switched to e-subs.

    ---Gordon V.G.

    Posted 9 years ago #
  30. JonathanStrahan
    Member

    Gordon -

    As I said, it seriously wasn't my intention to knock the magazines. And it honestly wouldn't have occurred to me to question whether any of them accept electronic submissions. It had been my intention to point out that at my scale of submissions, electronic submissions seem to work better than print ones ever did and that some of the reasons proposed around the traps for not accepting them didn't seem to hold water. None of which suggests that anyone must or should accept them.

    Just to clarify, though. Your concern is over how you would receive, track, process, and respond to a large volume of electronic submissions? That's interesting. I'd have thought, and I have a small amount of experience here, that it would be reasonably straight forward to build a system that would do that. You know, receive the sub, allocate it a job number, get it to someone to read, follow up for a response from the reader, get that response out and so on, logging it all.

    The one assertion I've seen elsewhere that I'm not convinced by is that accepting electronic submissions would somehow increase the viability of a magazine (any one, not just the Big Three).

    -- Jonathan

    Posted 9 years ago #

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