Tag Archives: getting published

How To Get Published At Romantic Shorts

Romantic Shorts is once again accepting manuscripts for publication. And it is very exciting to see the response to this! If the sheer number of submissions says anything about our potential, this is going to be fun!!

On the flip side, I’d forgotten the frustration at the volume of submissions that end up in the virtual trash can.

I’m not talking about stories that I write a personal response to, regardless of the fact that I’m actually rejecting them. Those are all works that are well written, but maybe aren’t a good fit for us: they don’t quite have the level of romance we’re looking for, maybe cross a line we’re not ready to cross, if at all, or seem a little too clichéd or overdone.

There are also the rejections that are pretty good stories, maybe even a good fit for us, but that require far too much in the way of editing. I try to be very encouraging of these and make suggestions as to courses or coaches or writers’ groups. Many, I’ve even offered to revisit in time if the writer has worked to improve the structure.

These are all interesting in their own right; I always learn something and am grateful for the trust and the interest the writer shows in the Romantic Shorts idea.

But it’s the submissions by people who blatantly and obviously completely disregard the Submission Guidelines that begin to take advantage of my time and good manners. For shits and giggles, here’s some examples of what I’ve found in my inbox this month:

  • 5 separate submissions from four different people, each with an appropriate file type, none of which are written in English. Five seconds on the site should explain why this is a problem;
  • 1 manuscript that is one, 22-page long sentence. No punctuation. No capitals. No spacing;
  • 4 – I hesitate to call them stories – that have no romantic component to them at all. In fact, it is likely that they would be rejected as scripts for pornographic films;
  • 2 that I think have left me somewhat scarred for life;
  • and 1 that was so remarkably close to Pride and Prejudice, including a bad attempt at the period’s syntax, that I read the whole thing hoping that maybe they’d surprise me with a different ending.

Suffice it to say that, overall, I am privileged to be able to work with so many gifted writers, despite the less-than-stellar interruptions. I had one day last week where I was about to give up when I tripped over a submission by one of our own Romantic Shorts writers. A half hour later, faith restored by a truly wonderful story, it was back to business.

Bottom line, Writers: Read and Follow the Submission Guidelines. Take a good look through the FAQ’s.

If you don’t understand, ask.

And before you hit the SUBMIT button, maybe get a friend – one who can be honest with you – to give your story the once over.

~~ALEX

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Isn’t Romantic Shorts Just Romantic Guest Blogging?

The short answer is, yes.

The long answer is slightly more detailed, but doesn’t really change the short of it.

Romantic Shorts is looking for 4,500-6,000 word romantic short stories (blog post) to publish (post) on our website (blog). In return, the author receives a feature page (guest bio) and links back to all of his or her own works, websites, blogs, etc. Over time, the mutual help network that we create and build together becomes a sort of GO-TO place to learn about writers, their work, and their news, in addition to, before, or because of some relationship the reader already shares with the writer. In other words, Romantic Shorts is a place where writers can be introduced, read, seen, and loved. Readers who enjoy your stories here at Romantic Shorts, will seek out your own websites, other articles you’ll publish, and books you may have for sale.

I bring this up today, because I found this clip this morning that really explains, in four short minutes, how you can use a site like Romantic Shorts to help build a following for your writing. And in the end, that is the goal of every writer: readers!

And in the end, what you do with that following, is up to you…

Check out the video clip. It’s quite interesting.

Alex.

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The Importance Of A Synopsis

Oh, you’ve worked so hard at finishing your manuscript and it’s truly a masterpiece. Congratulations!

Now it’s time to pitch it to a publisher, most of whom simply want an idea of what your story is about so that he or she can decide whether or not it’s worth the time.

Think carefully about this. You do the same thing. When was the last time you opened a book without reading the back cover first. Do you ever watch a television show without reading the description? Ever seen a movie trailer?

We like to know what we’re getting ourselves into.

But never does an intro weigh as heavily as it does for your manuscript. It is estimated that you have between 2 and 30 seconds to win over an editor. Two seconds can cover as little as a single sentence!

But no pressure. Enter the synopsis.

Keep your goal in mind. Your synopsis, first and foremost, should adhere to the publisher’s guidelines. Many are very specific as to  length and format. Know your audience.

If, on the other hand, you’re left to your own creativity, here are some tips.

Length Can Matter – A Lot

Try to make the length of your synopsis suit the length of your story. While it can be quite difficult to sum up a 100,000 word novel into two paragraphs, resist the temptation to give two full pages of details for your 10,000 word novella.

A good guide is approximately 2-5% of your word count. 2000-5000 words for the novel. 200-500 for the novella. Depending on the topic, anecdotes and short stories should fall into the 100-250 word range.

Don’t overdo it. But give yourself some space to sell your work. You’re writing a synopsis. Not a novel…

What To Include

In a nutshell, you’re telling your story. You’re outlining your setting, introducing your characters, and summarizing your plot. You’ll want to include all of your key components, plot twists, and, yes, the ending. And don’t use the words ‘spoiler alert.’ You’re talking to an editor, not a reader.

Don’t explain why you named your characters what you did. Don’t get into how you know about a certain topic. Don’t give background information that isn’t included in the story. Don’t ask questions. Just summarize the story.

You can discuss your inner most inspirations and ideas at your book signings. The editor just wants the goods.

Is There Room For Style?

Don’t include anything in your synopsis that the reader won’t find in the story. And that includes style. If the story is humourous, write the synopsis with the same sense of humour. Casual dialogue and dialect? Match it in the synopsis. You are telling the story in a shortened, accurate, and effective fashion. You are not describing your story as if it were written by someone else.

Remain true to your point of view as well. First person story? First person synopsis.

The only thing that changes for the synopsis is the tense. Regardless of the timing of your story, the synopsis is typically told in the present tense.

Keep in mind, you have the chance to exhibit your skill when an editor reads a witty – even snarky – summary of a black comedy, immediately after the professional demeanor of your polished cover letter.

Be True To Your Story

Probably the most difficult point to relay, and the reason for this post, is the failure of the synopsis to adequately reveal the genius in the story. I received a fairly uninteresting query from an author who submitted what amounted to a television preview report of the story – a scant and boring paragraph – within the query letter. In fact, if not for a spectacular pen name that caught my eye, I would not have continued beyond the cover letter itself – a rejection letter forming in my mind as I turned the page over.

But because I glimpsed a little imagination in that name, I decided to give the manuscript a go.

This story had me from the first line! Some of the best writing I’ve received: witty, sharp, excellent dialogue, and some intriguing details throughout. The point of view alone left me eager to read.

Lucky day for that writer.

Do not count on that kind of luck. Sell your story. It was worth writing – make sure the editor sees that.

Polish Polish Polish

Finally, your synopsis is your calling card. It’s the tool that will either sell an editor on giving you a chance or land you in the trash. The most common reason for the latter is lack of polish. Give as much care and effort to the editing of your synopsis as you did to your manuscript. Grammar, sentence structure, spelling are all critical to the impression you’ll make. No editor will ask for more crap. Show off your editing skills and land that sale.

Don’t think for a minute that your manuscript will be requested if your synopsis doesn’t turn some heads. Lead with your best foot forward. Overlooking the quality of your synopsis – whether one paragraph or a small book – will ruin your chances with your manuscript. Guaranteed.

Writers, editors, what are your thoughts?
How important is it to ace the synopsis?

 

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