Please, everyone, calm down a moment. I know you’re excited.
Soon enough you’ll get the chance to submit. Whether it’s for general submissions or having a go at our competition prize pool, there’ll be plenty on offer. Personally, I can’t wait.
Any questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org, but in the meantime a quick crash course might be called for so that newcomers know a little more about what we’re about, and what we’re looking for.
Because we’re page seventeen, there are seventeen points. Whether that’s a clever promotional tie-in or a lazy and uninspired gimmick is for others to decide. I would probably call this The 17 Stretched Out But Still Highly Relevant Things We Want to See From You. But let’s settle with The Seventeen-Point Checklist.
So, what do we want from contributors?
1) Creativity. Be daring with your writing and test your restraints. Use different modes of writing – experiment with different and interesting ways of telling a story.
2) Clean Writing. Obviously not everyone’s a trained editor who knows about split infinitives and dangling participles. But take the time to read over your work one more time before you send it. Weed out all those typos and make sure the messages are clear.
3) Courage. Be bold enough to send your work. Be brave enough to champion it. But also be resilient enough to remain open to the next point, which is …
4) Willingness to Edit. Not as big as it sounds. We’re not likely to want to renovate the entire piece. But please keep an open mind towards changes we recommend, as we’re as determined as you to make the writing as good as it can be.
5) Entertainment. Whether it’s happy or dark, the story should be entertaining and compelling. Remember you have an audience to win over – or lose.
6) Passion. Whatever you’ve written, we want to feel the love you have for what you’ve put on the page. It’s always refreshing to see a piece of writing that has been tended to with loving consideration, and has a sense of heartfelt conviction.
7) Conflict. A lot of submissions we receive are light on trials and tribulations. Don’t be afraid to hurt your characters. Hurt them bad if you have to. Put your narrator through the wringer. Drag your poetry through hellfire. As long as it’s not Job-level sadism (unless there’s a reason for it) it’ll result in a more compelling piece.
8) Imagination. ‘Write what you know’ is great, but so is stepping out of that comfort zone and diving into unknown waters. Go where your mind takes you – worry about the cleanup when you’re done with the draft.
9) Following the Guidelines. We have criteria like word limits and formatting preferences in place for good reasons. Help us out by sticking to them.
10) New Angles. There are going to be far more submissions then we can create spots for in the issue. So ask yourself: what’s my point of difference?
11) Awareness of page seventeen. We don’t stick to themes or certain styles, but it’s always beneficial to check out previous issues, to see what we’ve published in the past and how our mission statement reflects in our backlist.
12) Professionalism. Not to the point of being stuffy and impersonal (see #15). But presentation and prompt communication counts.
13) A Love for Reading and Writing. Naturally.
14) Ambition. We take pride in being career-starters, and love seeing the ambitious types that are intent on making the most out of their craft.
15) Personality: No one else is you, as you might have heard in a dozen self-help validations. So let that shine through.
16) Support. Not meaning donations (although that would be nice). But telling people about page seventeen (especially if you’re going to be in the latest issue!) and joining in with the conversations we have in social media and elsewhere.
17) You. We want to get to know you. Say hi to the good folk at Busybird. Bring something to read out at the open mic nights. Post something on our Facebook page. However it may be, we want you to be part of our growing community.
Also, don’t forget that we champion new writers, and emerging wordsmiths still trying to get their submission count up. We don’t turn veterans away at the door – hence why this addendum isn’t on the list – but we strongly encourage new writers to take the chance and let us have a look at their strongest work. It could be the start of something.
I hope the checklist gives some indication of what page seventeen is all about. We love new talent, and we love individuality and unique voices. We want to see your imagination at play on the page. We want the highs and the lows. We want you.
Start counting down. In a fortnight the game is on.
Beau Hillier | Editor, page seventeen