About those Guidelines

I was reading posts in one of the writer groups I follow on Facebook the other day and several of the writers were lamenting about the restrictions in markets—things like:

No animal cruelty, no child abuse, no vampire/werewolf/zombies, etc. No serial killers.

One writer commented that they still send stories of these kinds to markets despite the restriction, something they bragged had even worked.

The example restrictions above are actually from LampLight, not the thread, and I wanted to talk about them.

I get stories that go against the guidelines all the time. Some are even fantastically written. Amazing zombie stories, horrific vampire ones. I get a lot of what I would consider ‘drama’—stories that are slice of life, and while tragic, lack that which you need to be a horror story.

Some of which I have quite enjoyed reading. I also rejected them.

The thing about the guidelines is that yes, there is some wiggle room in them, their intention has nothing to do with the writer.

Guidelines are about the reader.

LampLight, as other markets, has a certain theme, mood and feel to it. This helps the reader to know what to expect. A market that goes for anything may be convenient for the writer, but will struggle to find an audience.

More how the story isn’t the whole story—I’m not looking for a good story, I’m looking for a good LampLight story.

Which is why as a submitting author it is important to know the market. And, if the only thing you know about the market is the guidelines, then it is even more important that you abide by them.

2019 In The Rearview

2019 In The Rearview

From the desk of the LampLight editor:

2019 wasn’t a good year here. I’m not going to go into the details and sad stories, but I am going to apologize that it affected LampLight, but for the readers who were waiting for the issue, and the writers whose submissions were horribly delayed.

For the readers: The September issue came out in November. We are pushing the December issue to January, both to give a little breathing room and to ensure all the stories will be eligible for ‘…of the year’ type awards. After that, we will be back on schedule.

Issue 8.1 is amazing, by the way. I hope you enjoy it.

For the writers: all the submissions from March-May of 2019 have been read, and responded to. Please check your inboxes or Submittable account for replies. Again, I am sorry this took so long.

I made the decision once I got behind to still take the time and diligence with each submission as I normally would, rather than try to cut corners to finish faster.

For those who submitted in October – December of 2019, I’m getting to your submissions now, and the response time should be much better this go-round.

We’ll have five issues of LampLight in 2020. We will have some great classics, starting with version of Frankenstein that shows the differences between the 1818 and 1831 editions. We are going to publish some poetry, that I am particularly excited about. And that’s just the beginning.

2020, here we come.

On Open Submission

There had been a discussion about editors and invite-only anthologies and about whether they were “real” editors.

First off, that’s a little silly; of course they are real editors. The question seemed to relate workload with professionalism, which is not a good way to think about it.

But the discussion evoked thoughts in me about ‘invite’ v ‘open call.’

I’ve done both—and do both for LampLight, and while there is an energy to the invite, I feel the strength and future of the genre lies in the open call.

Most of the people who have been published in LampLight, I didn’t know who they were before they submitted. I wouldn’t have been able to find their stories any other way.

The issue with invite only is that you are pulling from a known pool. “Only publish your friends…” was the criticism, and while that is not the case—it is the case. The bubble you live in as an editor only reaches so far. Your reach, your knowledge, is limited.

Now this is not saying “Nepotism!” or questioning the quality of these anthologies. But I would challenge those editors to make sure their reach, their invite, stretches further with each go.

The future is in the open invite. Literally. The future of the genre, of writing itself, is out there, unknown, sending stories, trying to get a break, wanting to be read, to be seen.