Now that I’ve got your attention – nope, not talking about a kink with this blog post. No whips, chains, gags or paddles. Just submissions. What/how/when. Looking at submission calls can be your foot in the door with a publisher whether you’re completely new to publishing or an established author that is looking to try out a new house.

Each publisher has their own requirements for a submission. They have their own set of do’s and don’ts. And different calls that they want stories for. What do you submit, for who, for when. As an example, I’m going to use one of the open submission calls that is currently posted for MLR. The call will be in Bold and my commentary on it in italics.

X Marks the Spot…and we’re not talking about THAT spot

We all have that one spot. You know, the one that makes you shiver or turns you into a pile of goo. Whether it’s the inside of your elbow (on just the right side) or that spot under your left ear, the small of your back, right at your hairline on the left side of your neck…you get the point. Or what if the spot you have makes you go “ewwww”? Licking that certain spot just makes you want to get far, far away…say your nose or toes? So opening paragraph of the call – what is this telling you? It’s giving you a basis for the call; it’s telling you what the editor/house was thinking about when the call was issued. It’s the main them that should be in your story somewhere/somehow. It’s telling you that they want stories about (in this case) a spot on a person. Sending in your angst-filled manuscript about an amputee – bad idea BUT if your story has an amputee that is finding out that being massaged by his partner to help him adjust to being an amputee and they find out that his stump is extra sensitive and touching there makes him squirm?

Submissions should:

  • All stories should have a character focused on the spot on another character Again this is giving you the MUST have component of the story
  • Suggestions: an established couple where the MC uses that spot to annoy the other for attention; a new couple exploring just where the “acceptable in public” spots are; finding a new spot on your partner that makes him want to take you against the wall suggestions from the editor – in some cases if there are suggestions? Yeah, means the editor would LOVE to see a story with one of these ideas in it
  • Be a minimum of 10k, maximum of 40k Guidelines on the length – important here because if there’s a maximum? Check with the editor if your story is going to be over that – sometimes there is wiggle room
  • Any subgenre is welcome and all prohibitive guidelines are observed This is a really important one. Why? It’s telling you that there are no-no’s that the publisher does not want to see. Most houses have close to the same no-no’s (like underage sex, rape for titillation) so this is where you should do your research. Look on the publisher’s site for their submission guidelines and READ them. You’ll find (in addition to the no-no’s) WHAT the publisher wants to see from you (manuscript/synopsis/what format to send) and some houses these days have an online submission form for you to fill out. Why are all these things important? It means that you’re serious about working with the house enough that you did your research on what they wanted.
  • Submissions should be sent to special_submissions@mlrpress.com where to send your submission AFTER reading what they want you to send them.
  • SUBMISSION DEADLINE: June 15, 2016 When to send your submission by. Does this mean you need to wait until the deadline to submit your story? Nope, just if you’re not going to make this deadline, reaching out is a good thing.

Any questions can be sent to Kris Jacen at KrisJacen@mlrpress.com Someone to ask those little questions to – always a good thing if you’re not 100% sure if your story could/would fit what the call is.

It’s always hard to hit send on a submission but with a little research and though up front, you can lessen the chances of getting a “no thank you” if your story doesn’t fit the publisher.