Tag Archives: submissions

Pomona Valley Review: On the Selection Process

Earlier this summer, I was selected to be part of the editorial board of Pomona Valley Review – an arts journal that comes out once a year. Because of my experience here as a managing editor, as well as Melanie and I presenting on Pomona Valley Review’s poetry panel last year at the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Associate conference (PAMLA), I was put in charge of the editorial board and took on the position of lead editor for the 11th edition of the journal.

While I have been published in the past through a handful of smaller journals (PVR included), this was my first time behind the scenes selecting artistic items that would be published. The process, I found, was very different from what we do here and not something I took into consideration when I would submit pieces myself.

I know that the knowledge I’ve gained in working as an editorial board member during this past issue of Pomona Valley Review has helped me understand how I should submit my work as a writer/poet to increase my chances of being published in the future. And, of course, I want to share that gained knowledge with you, the reader.

Submissions Interface

Pomona Valley Review uses Submittable for all of it’s submissions – stories, poetry, pictures, paintings, etc. But there are still many people who try to email in their submissions. When a journal selects one way and makes that way apparent, as a submitter, you should really follow what the journal asks. In general, if a journal asks for submissions one way and you send it in another way, your chances of being considered go down from the start. The policy at Pomona Valley Review is that unless we’re hurting for submissions, we won’t look at work that isn’t submitted in the correct manner.

Now, there was one author with poor vision and their adaptive software (text to speak) worked best in email. The process of creating a word document, uploading it, attaching it, and submitting a biography wasn’t accessible for that individual so their submission was taken via email. So exceptions can be made for accessibility purposes but otherwise, you’d need to stick with the platform the journal asks you to use.

Writers: Competing With the Best of Them

There are a lot of jobs that come to mind when people think of competition. The obvious is sports, but there are others, like being a musician or actor—or doing something in sales. While I have always known that writing and getting published is highly competitive, Business Insider‘s recent list of “10 Competitive Jobs That Everyone Wants But Hardly Anyone Gets” put just how competitive writing truly is in perspective. Poets, lyricists, and creative writers were number two on the list, with a competitiveness score of ninety-five out of one hundred.

Basically, if we all weren’t already scared shitless of putting our work out there, we are now. There are so many reasons why writing is competitive. In my experience working as a submissions editor (which I wrote about here), I can tell you a few of the reasons why I rejected short stories, things like an excess of grammatical mistakes, unrealistic dialogue, beginnings that failed to draw the reader (me, in this case) in, and endings that came too abruptly. Truthfully, though, the editor reading a piece may reject it for reasons entirely outside of the writer’s control, like the fact that they’re having a bad day or that they may have read ten stories about the same topic right before reading yours.

Rejection and What it Teaches You

I just sent out sixty five rejection letters. My eyes are beginning to feel heavy, and I’ve literally rewritten this sentence five times. While I am dying to turn off my laptop and jump into bed, I am also feeling a bit like a dick. In the past three weeks, I have read sixty seven short stories, and out of those sixty seven, I sent two on to my editor as “maybes.”

In order to absolve myself, I wanted to share a little bit about what I learned in these past three weeks.

1. Beginnings matter when it comes to short stories.

Really, this is true for all stories, but with novels, the length makes a so-so beginning more forgivable. The opposite is true for short stories. I have hundreds of stories to read through. If the writing is good and compelling, it will be recognizable within the first page or two. After that, an editor isn’t willing to waste more of their time reading it.

2. There’s a limit to how many grammatical errors are acceptable.

When I’m reading through a short story, a few grammatical mistakes are okay. After all, even when I read through some of my own work several times, a few errors still slip through the cracks. It’s hard to be objective about your own work, and after a certain point, your brain just sort of shuts off your ability to detect mistakes. However, there is a point when the editor reading your work will start to feel frustrated and more than likely move on to the next story in their pile. Too many errors makes the writer seem lazy, like they didn’t care enough about their submission to have another pair of eyes read through their work or to set it aside for a few days and come back to it themselves.