Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Terminology

I haven’t done a post like this in a while so I figured it was due. For my aspiring writers out there here’s some basic info for getting your work published.

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Do you want to be a horror fiction writer?
Getting published – Terminology

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Terminology – I thought it would be a good idea to review some of the terminology that is often part of the submissions page and instruction for publications for which you want to send a story. Some of this stuff is pretty basic but it is important to know for someone starting out.
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One of the big questions is what constitutes published/unpublished works.
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Unpublished – unpublished work is a story that has never appeared in a public forum anywhere. That includes in any book, magazine, webzine, on the internet, on your own blog, or on a forum even if it only got five hits. Some publishers/editors will make an exception for a story that was posted in a closed group, where you have to sign-in to read the stories and is there for the purpose of critique. Writers clubs, groups, and associations all fall into that category. The idea is the general public could not read it unless they are a part of that group and would have had to sign in. Also stories in these groups are usually not searchable in search engines. I will let the publisher/editor know if my story had been posted in a literary critique group and let them decide if they consider that published or not published.
Submission
Naturally, that is the story, poem or prose that you will send in (submit) to the publication.
Call for submissions
The publications call to writers to submit work based on their guidelines. It is usually posted on their websites, on listing pages such as Horrortree.com, Duotrope and on Facebook Open Call groups. There is often a reading window with a deadline.
Copyright
is the rights that you as a writer have upon creating your story and the right to let others (publications, websites, etc.) copy the material into their media presentations.
First English Language Rights
Many publications want First English Language Rights. That is, they want to be the first to offer the story to the public for reading in English. That means they want Unpublished work. They will often want an exclusive period where they won’t want you to have the story available anywhere else for the public to read. That could be from six months to a few years.
Reprints
If a call for submissions allows Reprints, that means you can send work that had been previously printed, posted, or offered in other media. Previously published works can be submitted as long as you have allowed for any exclusive time period to end.
Simultaneous Submissions
means you can send them a story or work that has also been submitted to another publication for review. Sometimes the reading periods and wait time is long for publications. If the call to submissions includes allowance for Simultaneous Submissions, you can send your story to several publications at the same time. You have the responsibility to let the other publications know immediately if your work was excepted elsewhere. Once accepted to a publication or website, in most cases, your work will be ineligible to be accepted into other publications until two things have happened; you have let the exclusivity time lapse and you resubmit the work as a reprint to publications that will accept reprints.
Multiple submissions
Means you can send more than one story, poem, or prose to the call for submissions.
Word counts
Submission calls usually have a preferred length of story. In your word program you will have to click on word count and the program will count the words. You will have to make that count clearly visible somewhere in your submission. The call will usually tell you where to put the word count. If it doesn’t, you can put it in your cover letter or directly following your tittle and byline. Everything that is separated by spaces is considered a word. ‘a’ is a word. A street or house number is a word. (215 13th Street = 3 words). An abbreviation is a word.
Byline
is your name, writing name, pseudonym and correct representation of that name. I like to be called Mike when I’m with my friends, but when my name appears in print as credit for writing a story, I like to use Michael – every time, everywhere.
Manuscript formatting
There is a standard way that your story should be formatted. However, with the advent of digital  submissions (email and form submissions), some of those rules have changed depending upon the publication. The Shunn Format was the standard for many years, but on the submissions page there may be preferences that the publications will want different. It’s best to start with the standard format and then change aspects according to special instructions.
File types
A Word document is .doc and .docx file types. However, with the Word format, depending on your computers age and Operating System, there could be difference in how your formatting looks compared to when the publisher opens the file to look at it. I prefer to save my files as .rtf documents which helps it have a uniform visual look no matter what program it is opened with. To save as an .rtf, open your story file, select SAVE AS, and then select .rtf from the drop down bar.
Author bio
Most publications would like a short Bio (biography), perhaps one paragraph about you the writer, written in third person (as if someone else had written it). They don’t want a full history of your life. Make no mistake, the author Bio is also a testament to your writing skills. Try to make it interesting and readable to someone that has no idea who you are and probably doesn’t care. You can see a sample of my BIO on my author page here: Michael Thomas-Knight, Author
Cover letter
Write a cover letter that is simple, with no frills. Just have a greeting and introduce yourself. Tell them your story title and what publication you’re submitting to. End with a thank you.
typing
“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”
– Ernest Hemmingway
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.”
– Edgar Rice Burroughs

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4 thoughts on “Do you want to be a horror fiction writer? Terminology

  1. Pingback: My Writing – 2016 Overview | parlor of horror

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