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Thread: Submission guidelines for short fiction

  1. #1
    Out of the cradle endlessly rocking Exir's Avatar
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    Submission guidelines for short fiction

    I have a few questions about submitting short stories to literary magazines:

    1) When they request a bio, what should I say? I'm previously unpublished, and a 14-year-old student -- thus, no work experience. What should I write, a list of hobbies? My story is about a girl killing a centipede to stop its suffering. Is the line "as a child, I spent my time squashing centipedes for far less honorable reasons" alright?

    2) Since my story is so short, is a short query-like summary needed?

    3) If the guidelines said nothing about bios, should I include one?

    Thanks!
    "A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse."

    -- Oscar Wilde


  2. #2
    Fish Whisperer aka eraser's Avatar
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    Every published writer started with a big zero in the credits department. I advocate being "honest-but-vague."

    1) Your age need only be mentioned if signing a contract becomes part of the equation. Keep the bio short. Something like: I am a student living in China whose interests revolve around ____, ____ and ____.

    The squashing centipedes line is iffy.

    2) A one-sentence description of the story as part of your (short) cover letter should suffice.

    3) No. They'll ask for a line or two later in the process, if your piece is selected for publication.

    Good luck.
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  3. #3
    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    I've never described a short story beyond genre and word count. Some places ask you not to describe it. You definitely don't want to go into the detail you would for a novel query.
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  4. #4
    Crypto-fascist Soccer Mom's Avatar
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    If they ask for a bio, I would actually flip it around and use the line " As a child, Exir spent his time squashing centipedes for far less honorable reasons." Since you don't have a job, just list your profession as "student." And don't sweat it too much. The cover doesn't make or break your story. It's the story that matters.
    Last edited by Soccer Mom; 06-07-2008 at 08:27 PM. Reason: Cause I was teh stoopid.
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  5. #5
    Out of the cradle endlessly rocking Exir's Avatar
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    Re soccer mom: I'm a he, darn-it!
    "A work of art is useless as a flower is useless. A flower blossoms for its own joy. We gain a moment of joy by looking at it. That is all that is to be said about our relations to flowers. Of course man may sell the flower, and so make it useful to him, but this has nothing to do with the flower. It is not part of its essence. It is accidental. It is a misuse."

    -- Oscar Wilde


  6. #6
    Disgruntled Scientist dgiharris's Avatar
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    Also,

    a great way to start adding some fluff to your bio is try writing for your school paper and send some letters to the editor of your hometown newspaper.

    If they are picked up, then that counts as 'publication in a periodical' also, if you can enter some contests and place, then that is another piece of fluff to build up your bio as you can use the generic "contest winner".

    Anyways, but don't worry so much. The BIO isn't really a make or break unless you are trying to write an authoratative piece in which your BIO is a major justification for why people should listen to you. Otherwise, with fiction, usually, the work stands completely on its own.

    In short, don't sweat it too much

    Mel...

  7. #7
    The moving hand, having writ... AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Remember, too, that the best bios may be sidestepped for the magazine's own reasons. I sent the required bio when I sold my first story to a major market. I was quite pleased with it, since it was clever, somewhat funny, yet fit the story's dark tone. However, the editor learned I'd taken a class from an author she admired, and someone in-house wrote about my studying at the feet of so-and-so for my bio.

    But hey, the check was good.

    Maryn, not sure the bio matters much at all
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