A Shimmer Primer

It’s possible that Shimmer is a new market to you. It’s equally possible Shimmer is a beloved market to you. Either way, welcome! This entry is intended to help you rock your submissions to us, by giving you the insider information you crave!

Shimmer is unique

Shimmer is unlike any other publication out there. When you read widely enough, that’s probably true of any publication–a story that may be well suited for one magazine is likely not as well suited for another. Beth recently told me that Shimmer is like the song “Hallelujah.” Cold and broken, but there’s still that glimmer of hope somewhere. If you haven’t grabbed an issue of Shimmer, I encourage you to do so (and issue ten is still available online to read for free). You can also check out our other online content, to get a taste of what else we have published.

We like cover letters

Strange, right? But just as you wouldn’t shove a manuscript into an editor’s hand at a convention, we don’t like to be faced with only a stack of stories to read. We want to know who you are, what you’re about. Have you published? Let us know. It’s equally okay if you haven’t–we all started there, it’s not a barrier to getting where you want to go. But say hello. Tell us the word count of your story. (Including your word count is especially useful as we put an issue together–if I need a 1000 word story to fill  specific space, you want me to know your story is 1000 words.) There are plenty of cover letter primers on the Internet, but I’m going to point you toward Grá’s, which is clear and concise.

One story at a time, one publication at a time

Shimmer does not accept multiple submissions or simultaneous submissions. We like to see one story from you at a time, so we can properly consider it. We want to be the only publication reading it at that time, so we don’t discover it has sold elsewhere when we’re ready to buy it. I didn’t think I would experience that, but I did and it was crappy to lose a story that way when our guidelines ask authors not to do it. It makes us wary of future submissions from you.

Be original

There are no new ideas, so the saying goes. I don’t believe that, but I do believe there are some ideas that are continually recycled. Unicorns, mermaids, muses, devils, and werewolf detectives. We see a lot of these. I’m not going to discourage you from writing such stories–I would never tell someone not to write something–but I am going to encourage you to be original and inventive when you do. If you can approach an old idea in a new way, we will love you.

Be respectful

Shimmer publishes speculative fiction. That doesn’t give you a license to be racist, misogynistic, or homophobic in your writing. Catherynne M. Valente wrote an excellent piece on this for us and I’m going to link it here, because anything I say will pale in comparison to the truths she lays out.

“Picking apart one’s own assumptions and personal narratives is uncomfortable, unpleasant, difficult duty–but that’s no excuse. Just like learning where the commas go (and where they don’t), this is simply part of the work of being a writer. It is not optional. It is not an elective.

The bottom line

In this business, submitting stories is about making a good impression of yourself, it’s about establishing relationships, and making the editor’s job as easy as it can be. Help us say yes to your stories.

Related: check our full guidelines for fiction, for word counts, formatting tips, query procedures, and payment info! We are so excited you’re here!

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