Link to View Atop the Slushpile, and How Not to Imply You Think You Are Your D&D Character

There have been a number of posts responding to Scalzi, and responding to Ann, and responding to me. Notably, I rather liked Mamatas’s contribution to the conversation. (Though, sorry, I won’t shut up.)

However, in the spirit of cross-linkage, I wanted to point out this post by a Fantasy Magazine slush reader. It’s a useful break-down for new writers about how to present their stories, and how that presentation is being interpreted by slush readers.

I had my own addition to Molly’s list:

This would never have occurred to me before I started slushing, but don’t send from an email address that lists you under a cutesy name.

Best case: Your email address sends mail as you. Here’s a sub from Sarah Ann Mayberry, listed as Sarah Ann Mayberry. Excellent.

Mildly unprofessional, but not enough so to make a difference: Your email address sends mail under some not-you identity that is obviously useful in your personal life, e.g. “Barry and Mary,” which is great when you’re sending email as a couple, but less useful when it’s only Barry’s submission. These people might consider starting a professional g-mail account, but it’s not a big deal either way.

BAD CASE: Your name is John Jones, but your email lists you as Thrashbar the Conquerer. Or The Seeker of All Evils. Your name is Susanne Height, but your email lists you as Lady Mistweather or The Golden Goddess or Feather Love, Bright Winter Falling. This email appears to have been set up as an RPG name, and suggests you might not have good taste in RPGs. It’s bad. It may even suggest you confuse yourself with the protagonist of your story.

WORST CASE: This hasn’t happened yet, but Ann and I have been waiting for a submission to come in from someone with a name best left to bad spam. Get Harder Longer, submitting a story of approximately 2100 words for your consideration. Make Her Cry Your Name, with a tender tale of telepathically linked twins set against the background of the apocalypse. See Into Coed Showers wondering how to mark italics in his Jordan-esque epic fantasy.

ETA: I’m sorry — I realized this is perhaps … not clear. I don’t care about the email address. You can be [email protected] and that’s fine.

It’s the NAME that appears with the email address that raises eyebrows. With gmail, I don’t see your address unless I make an effort, but the email comes in sent from a name. That name is probably the one that you entered as your name when you made the account. If your email address is [email protected], I probably won’t even see it, as long as the name you entered is Thomas Wilkins. But if you entered your *name* as Lady Raventouch, and a story comes in from Lady Raventouch (email address [email protected]) then we kind of raise an eyebrow.

Comments

  1. says

    But then how will I know that people who follow me on Twitter are actually fans and not someone trying to sell me penis enlargement pills (which is most likely my wife, under several pseudonyms)? If not for the DrowGirl’s of the world I would be at sea!

    But honestly, great advice!

  2. says

    You know, I’d be legitimately curious to see what gems you got in a “Title From Bad Spam” contest. I’m deadly serious. That might be one hell of a motivation for some real joys, and not just from the horrid intimations brought up by some of those headers. (Of course, I’m biased: when I was a kid, I read that old restroom wall missive “No need to sit upon this seat/Because the crabs in there can jump ten feet” and immediately pictured big blue crabs the size of dinner plates that waited in toilet bowls for passersby, jumped out, scraped the passersby’s asses clean, and jumped back in before anyone had a chance to react, much less pass out from blood loss. Yeah, I had issues as a child: why do you ask?)

    And to make things nice, I won’t even start with the affectation for the “Member, SFWA” header on cover letters, particularly when it’s listed because the author plans to join SFWA after this story sells. Nothing to see here, folks.

  3. Nick Mamatas says

    I have to say that when I was editing, I didn’t care about the email addresses. I occasionally had some things to say about the pseudonyms people used, but not about their email address names.

  4. says

    What about the domain name? How mundane does that have to be?

    For instance, for over a decade I’ve owned the domain twistedimage.com, and my main email account is my name at that domain. (I used to quite frequently, and still occasionally, produce charity events under the dba Twisted Image Productions; the domain name is a reflection of that).

    Would that sort of domain name *also* set off alarms for you? Where do you draw the line between outre and acceptable?

  5. Rachel Swirsky says

    LOL, I’m sorry — I realized this is perhaps … not clear. I don’t care about the email address. You can be [email protected] and that’s fine.

    It’s the NAME that appears with the email address that raises eyebrows. With gmail, I don’t see your address unless I make an effort, but the email comes in sent from a name. That name is the one that you entered when you made the account. If your email address is [email protected], I probably won’t even see it, as long as the name you entered is Thomas Wilkins. But if you entered your *name* as Lady Windfeather, and a story comes in from Lady Windfeather (email address [email protected]) then we kind of raise an eyebrow.

  6. says

    I once exchanged e-mails with a “Very Famous” writer (on par with any actor or celebrity) and his e-mail was something silly.

    Ergo, I will continue using something silly.

    As long as my stories are good, I doubt it matters.

  7. says

    I actually know a guy who gets ridiculously offended by being rejected and will use names like Mike Hock (the only one I can remember off-hand) when he submits a different story to the publication.

  8. says

    I have to admit, when I’m reading slush for SteamPunk Magazine, this doesn’t negatively affect me at all. It’s just a complete non-issue. This might have to do with the niche that we’re in, I don’t know. But I also believe, in real life, that people should find ways to live as fantastically as possible.

    What -does- put someone pretty down in my priorities are letters that start of “dear sirs” or “good gentlemen” or any such gender assumptions about who it is that is editing our magazine.

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