Helpful Hints

A Few Observations on Being an Editor

By Peter Coleborn and Mike Chinn

Over the years we have been linked to several anthologies for The Alchemy Press (and elsewhere). At the moment, we are reading for The Alchemy Press Book of the Unknown. In order to solicit submissions, we post guidelines on our website and these tend to be disseminated widely across the web, and in due course the submissions arrive. Here are a few tips on ensuring your story receives favourable attention.

  • Obviously read the guidelines. If the call is for vampire stories, think seriously before sending one about space rangers.
  • The email’s subject line should include the story title and author name, for example: “Unknown submission/ The New Mother /Lucy Clifford”.
  • If the guidelines provide the editors’ names, use them in your cover email. At the least, start with “Dear Editors”. It is rude to send in a submission with a cover email that says “find attached doc, thanks” only, or similar.
  • If a word count of 3000-7000 “unless agreed beforehand” is stipulated, do not send a 1300 or an 8000-word story without agreeing beforehand. It makes eminent sense to include in your cover email (or letter) the story’s word count.
  • If the guidelines stipulate a particular font, style, grammar, best abide with them. We tend not to be prescriptive on these, but some publishers are.
  • It is not necessary to send a cover email that is as long as a short story. We don’t need a biography or complete list of past publications – we can see that on your website, so do include a relevant link (What? No website? Tut tut). Don’t include a precise of your story. A brief cover email is all that’s required. If your story is selected we’ll ask for these particulars.
  • Label the story attachment to ensure it is identifiable. Include the title and author, such as “Arthur Machen The White People” or “Hoard of the Gibbelins by Dunsany”. Why? Because a file simply labelled “Rats” will invariable get lost or muddled or misfiled, and may become detached from the original email. There could be two files with similar labels from different authors. Remember we could receive over 200 submissions.

These hints are not particularly proscriptive. They are intended to make life easier for the editor and thus give you, the writer, a better chance. Other publishers may take a different stance, of course. Remember to read carefully the submission guidelines.

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