Thursday, December 1, 2022

Things All Writers Should Beware


Gabino Iglesias is a writer, professor, book reviewer, editor, and translator living in Austin, TX. He is the author of Zero Saints and Coyote Songs and the editor of Both Sides. His work has been translated into five languages, optioned for film, nominated to the Bram Stoker Award and the Locus Award and won the Wonderland Book Award for Best Novel in 2019. His reviews appear regularly in places like NPR, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the San Francisco Chronicle, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Criminal Element, Mystery Tribune, and other venues. He's been a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards twice, the Newfound Prose Prize, the Splatterpunk Awards, and PANK Magazine's Big Book Contest. He teaches creative writing at SNHU's online MFA program and runs a series of low-cost writing workshops.


He and I have not met in person, but we follow each other on Facebook and (for the time being) Twitter. Even his casual comments are worth listening to, and you should pay close attention when he takes the time to spell something out.


The following list of things to beware when submitting to magazines and anthologies (or agents and publishers, for that matter) appeared in Twitter a little while ago and are worth the time of every writer, even if only for validation.


1. Unless you can buy food and pay rent with exposure wherever you live, focus on paying anthologies. There are some situations—charity anthologies, tributes, etc—where this rule can be ignored.


2. Any editor or publisher that asks you to pay to be in a book is a predatory asshole. Tell those people to go die in a tire fire. A real professional editor will never ask a writer to pay their way into an anthology. The money goes to you, not the other way around.


3. Just like you should never pay to be in an anthology, working with a professional publisher means that they will not ask you to pay for a cover, editing, proofreading, formatting, or layout. A real press takes care of all that, which is why sometimes small payments are okay.


4. Covers matter, and anyone who tells you otherwise is someone you don’t want to work with. If the cover is trash, there’s a chance they also don’t care much about what goes into the book.


5. If you’re reading a submission call and find a dozen typos and a few misspelled words, forget about it and move on. Your aim should be to always work with professionals who care about what they put out there.


6. Read submission calls carefully and follow the guidelines. Don't send in stuff you know isn't a fit. You want to work with professionals, and sometimes that starts with you behaving like one.


7. If you are ever in doubt about a publisher or editor, reach out to someone who’s been around the block a few times. Ask questions. Most of the writers who have been in the game for a while are willing to help new authors stay safe and make the right decisions.


8. I know this one is tough, but your desire to see your name in print should not blind you from the things happening around you. An editor or publisher who works with racists, bigots, or sexual harassers is not someone you want to work with. If it is, that says a lot about you.


9. Get a contract and read it carefully. Promises are for religious stuff and to help dying folks shove off this mortal coil in peace, not for business. Get things in writing and know what you're getting into.


10. Don't be afraid because big names are attached to a project or because lots of writers are submitting. Do your best, but do it. Submit. Try. Keep at it.


11. Lastly, don't take rejections personally. I've been rejected by strangers and friends alike. I've had to reject NYT bestsellers because their story wasn't a good fit. And remember: all editors have different tastes and rejections are invitations to send your stuff elsewhere.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I tend to revise as I write, so my first drafts are the result of rewrites all along. It's that third phase that stalls me, when I know something needs more, but I don't know what it needs to be. I really wish I had a good writing skills to write about it and a good writing group to perform such amazing work.