I’d like to welcome everyone to my new series, which explores the ins and outs of the dreaded submission process. In each episode, we follow J.D. McNutterhouse, a new writer whose rare combination of thick-headedness, ignorance, and naivete cause him to take misstep after misstep on the road to publication. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the very first installment of The Life and Times of J.D. McNutterhouse.
This week’s adventure: “J.D. Gets Scientific”
J.D. McNutterhouse just finished the final touches on his horror story, “Dead Babies.” He found it to be a finely crafted tale, sparing no gruesome detail, about the many ways an infant can die. He’d heard other writers talk about certain publications that would not accept stories involving baby-death, but J.D. knew it to be an exaggeration. No doubt any editor worth his salt would recognize the perfectly written masterpiece for the genius it was and buy it before some other go-getter discovered J.D.’s talent.
Rather than search for a magazine known for its bloody stories, J.D. selected a publication based on the high pay rate. The magazine he chose was Red Tide. He couldn’t be bothered with reading the guidelines; recognizing the title of the magazine as horror, J.D. simply copied the submission address and sent his story out.
After a month with no reply, J.D. sent a query letter to the magazine. Another two weeks passed with no answer, so he sent another letter. J.D., over the span of several months, sent a total of three query letters that he received no reply to. Finally, in a fit of anger, he gave up.
What J.D. McNutterhouse did wrong:
Had the wise J.D. taken two minutes to read the guidelines, he would have found that not only was Red Tide a non-fiction market, but they also specialized in scientific articles about marine biology.
Upon receipt of J.D.’s manuscript, the editor promptly deleted it under the philosophy that if the writer couldn’t be bothered to read the guidelines, then the editor could not be bothered to send a rejection letter.
By simply reading the guidelines, J.D. could have saved months of waiting for a response that would never arrive.
Next Week’s Adventure: “J.D. Gets Personal”