I’m a Dick
So I was talking to Andersen Prunty in 2008 at a party during the World Horror Convention. I was a little drunk, as people tend to be at conventions. Andersen may or not have been the same.
I looked around the room and said, “I’ve probably rejected stories from almost everyone in this room.” This was back when I was editing the literary journal, Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens.
Andersen said, “Bradley, you’re such a dick.”
Then somehow we decided to put together an online anthology called Bradley Sands is a Dick as a PDF. Every story was required to be titled “Bradley Sands is a Dick.” I would make it available on Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chicken’s website. And we would have an open submissions call so anyone could have their story considered for it. I assumed there would be very few submissions and the vast majority of the stories would be written by my friends. This was not the case. There were MANY submissions. Around the same amount that I usually received for my literary journal. This may have been because the journal was closed to submissions at the time, although I don’t recall entirely.
So all of a sudden my inbox was being filled up with stories about how I’m a terrible person that were written by complete strangers, none of whom were even close to describing the person who I really am. It made me wonder what their motivation for submitting was. I didn’t think Bradley Sands is a Dick was a publication that an author was likely to use as a credit in their biography. Unless an author had a story concerning a particularly loathsome character and were willing to change the character’s name to my own, they had to make an extra effort to write something that fit the anthology. If their story was rejected, it would have been rather strange to submit it anywhere else unless they changed my name. I found it rather peculiar when I discovered that an audio recording of a rejected story (with its original title still intact) was used for fiction podcast.
There was also no payment offered for the stories, except for a $100 prize for the readers’ favorite one. All of the stories were listed in a poll on some website and readers were supposed to vote for their favorite. Unfortunately, the poll wasn’t set up very well and the winner was able to vote for themselves thousands of times (at least I assumed they did). Since Andersen is a good sport, he still awarded the prize.
A number of bizarro authors submitted stories and had them accepted, including Jordan Krall, Mykle Hansen, Cameron Pierce, and D. Harlan Wilson. Carlton Mellick III performed a story at the first Bizarro Showdown competition during the first BizarroCon and I was the story’s protagonist. It seemed appropriate to ask him if we could use it for our anthology.
Before the anthology came out, Andersen asked me, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yeah, why not?” I responded, not thinking about how each time a potential employer searched my name on Google, a link to the anthology would pop up on the first page.
When the anthology came out, I promoted it on my blog with an entry titled “proof the kids will submit stories to anything these days.”
So listen, writers. Writing is hard. You shouldn’t write a story for an anthology called Bradley Sands is a Dick unless you have a good reason. You shouldn’t submit one of your stories to just anywhere. It’s well and good if story acceptance makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside and motivates you to write more, but you should be trying to achieve more than this with publication. Too often I stumble across an online lit zine that is poorly designed and comes out with a new issue once a week. I wonder what kind of people are submitting to these places—probably the same people who submitted to my anthology.
I know that no one is reading the stories these zines publish besides the editors and a couple of the authors’ friends and families.
Submit to places you are proud to be a part of. Places people read. Places YOU read. Don’t submit to an online anthology with a title that denigrates its own editor, unless you know the person. Or if you think the concept is freaking hilarious.
Regardless, I’m happy with how our anthology turned out.
If you would like to read it, it is available for download here: http://rapidshare.com/files/965010522/bsands.pdf