FUNNY WOMEN (COMBO!) #18: Publishing House

Submission Guidelines
by Jane Roper

Dear Writer:

Thank you for your interest in our publication.

We publish literary fiction, poetry, and occasional prose, in the form of criticism and essays.

We also occasionally publish interviews with writers, but it’s so occasional that we hesitate to mention it here. In fact, we take it back. Interviews with writers are annoying. Also, we almost never publish personal essays about addiction or abuse. If your submission is about cancer, please don’t send it to us.

Regarding literary fiction, we should mention we only publish short stories and short-shorts. We do not publish flash fiction, not counting the couple of times a few years back when we did, but it was because we weren’t clear on the distinction between a short-short and flash fiction. We figured it out.

Under no circumstances do we publish novel excerpts, except those by famous authors or authors in under-represented groups (i.e. minorities, teenagers, and political prisoners). We most definitely do not publish excerpts from forthcoming debut novels if those novels are under contract with major publishers for ridiculous sums of money. That goes double if the author is under 28. Seriously, just…fuck off.

As for poetry, we tend not to like narrative poetry, or poetry that tries too hard to be “poetic” and/or poetry that contains the word “pomegranate”—it’s just a thing we have. For us to publish a sestina (yawn), it would have to be really, really exceptional. It has happened. That is, it happened once because one of our exceptional editors wrote it and she can do whatever she wants.

Please familiarize yourself with the kind of material we publish before submitting your work, preferably by subscribing to our magazine for several years. We do check subscriber accounts, and we give preference to submissions by subscribers. The only addiction/abuse essay we’ve published in the last three years? Yep. Subscriber. The only pomegranate poem? Just kidding; we really never publish those.

We also don’t publish so-called “genre” writing. That means romance, thriller, mystery, western, science fiction, vampire stories, or anything else that lacks weight, meaning, or artistic merit and/or that we wouldn’t display proudly on our bookshelves. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t submit it, however. We actually love receiving this kind of crap, because it gives us a good chuckle and makes us feel better about our own writing, especially late at night when we’re drunk and/or stoned. Mostly stoned.

Above all, we are looking for writing that’s fresh, incisive, and possibly subversive but not gimmicky. We do not publish experimental writing because we find it pretentious. We also do not publish bland, derivative, workshoppy-type stories, full of relationship angst and bourgeois ennui, unless you are a successful, well-known author, because it makes us look good, and it helps us get funding and more subscribers who have money but can’t write worth a damn.

Above all, we’re looking for writing that draws us in, challenges us, and tells a good story. (Except in the case of poetry, since, as you may recall, we do not like narrative poetry. In fact, we’re sick of poetry altogether. Poetry submissions closed.)

We do not publish writing that in any way includes or alludes to wolves.

Then again, we’re open to almost anything. Surprise us. Unless it’s with any of the things we already went over. (Which, we suppose, would be surprising for you to send, in a way. But still, don’t send them.)

Your submission should be double spaced, with standard margins, and 12-point type. Handwritten submissions will be ignored. Submissions typed in Apple Chancery, Papyrus, or any “handwriting” font will be burned. Please include a brief cover letter with your submission, noting previous publications or awards. We’ll be more inclined to respect you and read at least one page of your work if you have credentials. At least some of us will. Just don’t be braggy about it, you know?

Please include a SASE with your submission. (If you don’t know what that is, you probably shouldn’t be submitting to this or any other literary journal.) We receive hundreds of submissions every month, and our response time varies from one month to one year. Please do NOT call or e-mail us to check on the status of your submission. We will be really, really annoyed, and will probably tack your submission up on our “Asshole Wall,” right next to the “Wall of Shame,” where we tack up the first pages of awesomely bad genre fiction and shitty amateur poems about horses, depression, break-ups, Jesus, etc.

Simultaneous submissions are discouraged, but we realize that it’s kind of obnoxious of us to expect you to wait for up to a year, possibly more, to hear back from us before submitting elsewhere. So, do what you have to do, but at least have the decency to contact us if your submission is accepted elsewhere so we can take a look at it with the knowledge that someone else actually thinks it’s publishable.

Thank you and good luck! We look forward to reading your work.


ALGERNON Cover Letter
by Alexa Dooseman and Elissa Bassist

Harry Miller
1246 Journey’s End
Cincinnati, OH

Prose & Poetry Literary Journal
1225 15th Street
New York, NY

Dear Fiction Editor:

I’ve read your submission guidelines and think you’ll be delighted to publish me.

Please consider my 12,323 word short story, entitled A L G E R N O N,  THE UNTOUCHABLE  KNIGHT, for publication. It is a well-written, touching, enthusiastic, complex, and thrilling story that spans many genres, but largely devotes itself to epic lore, myth, the exploration of the body/mind continuum, fantasy, and some interspecies erotica.  I know that your journal doesn’t usually concern itself with these “less prestigious” genres, but I think that you’ll like this . . . a lot. I use these genres literally, but also ironically–I feel like that is right up your alley.

In the story, the knight Algernon is put up against many tests, and is adored by Kings and Kingdoms. In short, he is the best Knight ever. He practically is the head of the round table, of all the round tables. BUT, in the course of this story, Algernon is severely challenged, and although he is thought to be untouchable . . . he is touched (mostly violently, but also sexually/emotionally).

It gets even better, seriously, you have to read it . . . no, seriously, keep going.  There is some Sword-in-the-Stone action, some Tolkien shout-outs, pre- and post-pubescent vampires, an ass-load of fiery dragons, perchance some musical dance numbers, and of course, thousands of–wait for it–damsels in distresses.

When my friends read this story, they were like, “This story is fucking rad, Harry.”  I think, nay, know, your readers will have a similar experience.

And, I don’t want to ruin the ending . . . but, let’s just say that in the end, Algernon is actually an avatar.  Yes, that’s right–it’s a parallel-universe type thing. Very complex and mind-bending. Like, Algernon is not really Algernon, but someone else who has an avatar named Algernon. Read it . . . it’s so deep.  Even my friends were like, “Harry, I did NOT see that Avatar-shit coming.”

A little bit about me: I’ve written a crap-ton of fiction, yet to be published. You could be the very first to publish me, which I feel is an exploding offer not to be turned down. I’ve also written a few plays, self-published a zine, and have a private blog.

I graduated from The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Thank you very much, and I look forward to your response. I haven’t even attached an SASE because I think that you shan’t be rejecting A L G E R N O N. (Oh, and by the way, if you like the “perchance” and the “shan’t” that I’ve thrown in this letter, then you’ll love my story. All the characters talk like that–that is, when they’re in the mythical world [not in the pre-avatar world]–you’ll see . . . it’s so good. . . .).

Until next time,

Harry Miller

P.S.  When you publish A L G E R N O N, I think that I’m going to use a pseudonym (almost like an avatar for myself, which is pretty meta). So, when this goes to print, please put: Written and illustrated by Lord Esquire Cunningham, the VI. Thank you again.


Original art by Ilyse Magy.


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Jane Roper lives and writes in the Boston area. Her first novel, Eden Lake, will be published by Last Light Studio Press in 2011. Her website is Alexa Dooseman has written a shit-ton of fiction. Although not widely published, she is a full-time writer in San Francisco; in other words, she works at an Italian market, cutting pasta and filling cannolis. Elissa Bassist believes in the slush pile. Visit her new website at More from this author →