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.

HOW CON: Play the Imagination Game to Inspire Your Writing.

Imagination Game Instructions

• Collect in a little box or bag of miscellaneous random items. Buttons, mini toys, pictures, doodads, playing cards, game pieces, etc… You can have many or one that you choose from.

• Empty the contents of your imagination-inspiring bag/box.

• Look over the contents and let your imagination go. How do these things go together?

Play by yourself: Write a story involving all or some of the items in the bag.

Play with others: Each person should have a bag. Tell each other your stories one at a time, using the props to describe and act out your story.

Play with others with just one bag: Take turns picking out items out of the bag until they are all gone. Then tell each other a story using your items.

Have fun!
When you are done, you can keep the pouch and use it for later
and mix and match items with your friends.
Did you enjoy your Imagination Game?
Share your stories with us!

HOW CON: Writers, Learn What the #NGHW Challengers Learned

Our Next Great Horror Writer challenge was an excellent learning process for our contestants and listening to the audio will give you tips on writing and examples of what can be done better and what really makes editors pause and listen to your work. Each audio below covers a different style/aspect of writing. Hosted by Emerian Rich, Dan Shaurette, and H.E. Roulo

#NGHW Episode 1: The top 15 are chosen. 100 Word Stories and how they got into the top by answering questions well and submitting excellent cover letters.

#NGHW Episode 2: 300 Word Monster Stories, how to write flash fiction. Guest judge horror writer and podcaster, Mark Eller.

#NGHW Episode 3: 500 Word Blog Posts, what makes a good blog post impactful.
Guest judge The Count from Cemetery Confessions.

#NGHW Episode 4: Spoof Commercials. How to write short comedy. Guest Judge author and humorist, Timothy Reynolds.

#NGHW Episode 5: Horror Romance Poems, how to write romance poetry. Guest Judges Julianne Snow and Nina D’Arcangela from Sirens Call Publications

#NGHW Episode 6: Horror Music Story, how to write a short story that will sell. Guest Judge Jeremiah Donaldson

#NGHW Episode 7: Horrific True Tales. How to write a blog post of true life horror story. Guest Judge Stacy Rich, Blog Editor.

#NGHW Episode 8: Character Descriptions. How to write a good character description. Guest Judge Annette Curtis Klause

#NGHW Episode 9: Campfire Tales. How to craft a well-rounded short story. Guest Judge Dario Ciriello

#NGHW Episode 10: Interviews. How to interview and how to be interviewed. Guest Judge Stacy Rich

#NGHW Episode 11: Audiodramas. How to write short scripts. Guest Judge director and writer, Frank H. Woodward.

#NGHW Episode 12: 3000-word short story with a POC woman character. Guest Judge publisher Nicole Givens Kurtz from Mocha Memoirs.

#NGHW Episode 13: Review of the 3 novel pitches, how to pitch a novel, first 3 chapters, and the winners of our contest. Guest Judge Joe Mynhardt from Crystal Lake Publishing.

Do you want to be the Next Great Horror Writer? Subscribe to this blog for information on when we launch our next contest.