HOW CON: Getting out of the slush pile and staying out!

Getting out of the slush pile and staying out!
(Publisher/Editor View)
by Emerian Rich from

Choosing a sub call

*Investigate the publisher, familiarize yourself with their publications. Know what they stand for and what they’ve liked in the past.

*If there is time, ask trusted writer friends if they have dealt with them.

*Have time to write what they are asking for or have a story in your locker that you can change to fit.


*Concentrate on the deadline and give yourself a doable work schedule.

*Right before subbing, revisit the sub call guidelines on their actual site to see if anything has changed, or if you missed anything.

*Make sure you put your name and contact information on the manuscript in case it gets separated from your email.

*When in doubt, use the William Shunn method:

*Create a proper, short but informative cover letter. In the cover letter, you should include:

*Word count

*Story name and elevator pitch. Shorts: 1-2 sentences, Novels: 3-5 unless stated otherwise

*Your name and 50-word bio.

*Anything else they may ask for in the sub call.


Editor, Please find attached my 3500-word story, “Full Moon Over Washington.” In this fantasy comedy story, werewolves fed up with the nonsense of humans take political office.

Joe Wolf is the author of the werewolf series, Dark is the Night. He’s been published in a handful of anthologies by publishers such as Dragon Moon Press, FullMoon Publishing and White Wolf Press.
To find out more, please visit:

Thank you for your consideration,

Joe Wolf

Don’ts in a cover letter:

*Don’t assume the gender of the editor if you don’t know. Mr. Mrs. Miss. Ms.? Old-fashioned and can be taken wrongly. I would prefer Emerian or Editor.

*Don’t assume an acquaintance with the editor until he or she has reciprocated. Even if you met at a convention, they may not remember you. Reminding them by saying, “We met at WolfCon. I was the guy in the elevator who chatted about Walpurgisnacht.” Is a great way to establish a memory, but don’t be upset if they do not remember you.

*Don’t use swear words, off-color jokes, or racial slurs–even in the title and even if you’re trying to be witty. There are very few instances this will work, especially on a cold-contact where you don’t know the editor or their style.

Don’ts of submissions:

*Don’t sub something that doesn’t fit the theme or guidelines.

*Don’t just send it with no cover or explanation.

*Don’t leave out a part cause you don’t want to do it. Yes, we need what we ask for. You can’t leave out the synopsis if we need it.

*Don’t burn bridges. If we decline you and you launch into decline abuse, you will be on the bad list.

*Don’t send multiple stories or simultaneous submissions unless the sub call states it’s okay.

3 thoughts on “HOW CON: Getting out of the slush pile and staying out!

  1. Burning bridges, indeed! Bad idea. I’m not sure what’s it like these days, but back when I was editing and doing most of my short story submitting, I knew quite a few other editors in similar strata of the small press and online publishing world. We did indeed share horror stories of poor sports and outright crazies. There was one in particular who achieved a horrible notoriety for setting himself up as the Bhad Boi of the Horror Genre and deliberately managed to alienate everyone more talented than he – which was everyone. I mean literally, everyone. Your four-year-old niece. A dog. Slime mold had more talent. And spelled better. And probably smelled better.

    There are several significant writers whose names you’ll all likely recognize who would prefer to never be reminded of that specific person whose initials may or may not be N.P. There was a camaraderie among us in those halcyon days that I often miss, but wouldn’t want to go back to having to deal with his ungrammatical tantrums and poorly spelled tirades across every media platform of the time.

    Yeah, don’t be like that.


  2. Pingback: Summer 2021 Update! | emz unplugged

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