Monday, April 19, 2010

On Tree Crotches, Slush Piles, and Secret Keepers

by Mindy Friddle

Before I shamelessly self-plug at the end of this note,  I hope to earn the privilege. 

How? I'm going to share some tips with you about how to avoid the slush pile from a writer/poet/editor. [Not me!}

First-- an aside:
How's your spring? Are you sniffing and dripping on the keyboard? Are you able to pry one swollen eye open in the morning thanks to Allegra and Bobbi Brown? [That's not as naughty as it sounds.]  Me, too.

When I want to clear my head, I go outside among the tall, stoic trees. And lately, I sneeze. Everything is chartreuse. Everyone is sneezing and wheezing, suffering from all the trees'  floating "male gametes"--tree sperm.Yeah, Baby>

There must be some randy going-ons at night in the forest--which gives new meaning to "tree crotch."

So, what does that have to do with the slush pile? Not a thing. Here are the tips I promised to keep you out of the stanky pile o' slush:

A Few Tips to Keep You Out of the Slush Pile

From Jillian Weise's excellent class for the Writing Room in February, a few do's and don'ts that drew gasps from the audience. [Okay, I'm exaggerating-- not gasps, just mad scribbling as they wrote everything down.]  
Who IS Jillian? Her work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Tin House and Washington Square, among other magazines. Her novel, The Colony, was published in March. Her  books of poetry include Translating the Body (All Nations Press, 2006) and The Amputee's Guide to Sex (Soft Skull Press, 2007).  She has worked on the editorial board of The Paris Review and currently works as an editor for The South Carolina Review. 
She suggests these Do's when you submit your work to magazines:

Use 12 point Times New Roman font.

Include a header with your name, address, phone number and email on every page.

Simultaneously submit, and keep a spreadsheet of your submissions. Jillian submits new work every 3 months, wave after wave. When rejections come in, she deals with them in the next 90 day wave. When acceptances come in, contact the other publications to which you submitted and let them know. 

Do use Duotrope's Digest to research and target magazines appropriate for your work. And--of course-- read and subscribe to magazines, and be thoroughly familiar with the publications you submit to.

Write a clear and succinct cover letter
  •  Keep it short and to the point.
  • Address to the editor by name if possible.
  • Don't end with "Cheers." 
  • Don't mention your blog unless it has higher number than Slate.
  • Don't kiss butt, with gushing compliments about how wonderful the publication is. Save that for a separate letter to the editor. [In other words, let your work speak for itself.] 
  • Do mention if you haven't been published before. Seems counter-intuitive, but magazines love to be the first to publish someone, and discover talent.
call the magazine to check on your work...withdraw your call...don't call the magazine for any reason.
And don't forget you can also submit online.

Ok-- so here's my plug, no longer shameless because--I hope--I've provided you with some information that just may prove helpful.

The paperback of SECRET KEEPERS, my second novel, will be out next month. ------------>
Picador, my publisher, says May 25 is the magic day.  

Thanks for reading this far, and hope you'll look for a copy.
Happy reading. Happy spring.

Mindy Friddle is the author of THE GARDEN ANGEL (St. Martin's Press/Picador) and SECRET KEEPERS (St. Martin's Press). Visit and her blog, Novel Thoughts: On Reading, Writing & the Earth to read excerpts from her novels, interviews with authors, book reviews, and random musings. Find her on Twitter @mindyfriddle.


Terresa said...

Tree crotches, love that!

And excellent avoid-the-slush-pile suggestions. (I'm taking notes here!)

PS: Secret Keepers is such a lovely title. Looking forward to adding it to my "to read" list.

Anonymous said...

I love the cover of that paperback. It's a knockout!

Laura Marcella said...

I love spring and being outside, so I'm super glad I don't have any allergies!

These do's and don't are excellent. Thank you! I've used Duotrope and it's terrific. New Pages is also a fantastic literary journal site.

Thanks for the plug- I'll be sure to check out your books!

Marisa Birns said...

I love watching Bobbi Brown on the Today show. She makes everything look so easy, right?

But, it's not.

I live in DC and there's plenty of stuff here to make an allergy sufferer...well...suffer.

But I seem to be immune to them so far.

Will use your tips. Hate winter slush and probably would not love the pile either.

I'll keep my unswollen eyes open for SECRET KEEPERS.

Mindy said...

Thanks Terresa, Laura, and Marisa for your comments and kind words --M

Victoria said...

I found a lot of helpful info here!