The Big Jewel publishes literary humor to 1,000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
KL: We are a literary humor site, so the three things we want any submission to be are: 1) funny; 2) smart; and 3) literary. By literary we mean having some sense of style. Many of our pieces also come directly out of literature past or present by virtue of being parodies, but that is not necessary. We publish all kinds of things if they meet these three requirements.
SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?
KL: Because we are sometimes wrongly classified as a flash fiction outlet, we receive a lot of short stories that are not humor pieces, and quite a few others from authors who believe strange equals funny. In a perfect world all prospective authors actually read the submission guidelines. A distressingly large number of submissions contain basic errors in spelling and grammar, and demonstrate a feeble grasp of literary expression. I am not sure what else to say about that, but there it is.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
KL: Quite often we do, yes. I am the first editor every piece must get past. If I reject a piece but feel it has some merit or the author deserves encouragement, I will frequently say why it was rejected and mention anything I liked. If the piece is worthy of being submitted to the entire editorial team but is still rejected, there are usually other comments, some featuring specific critiques and suggestions for improvement. I will always pass these on. It seems that in our little world of literary humor outlets we are the only one that does this, and it has tended to endear us to writers. We want every piece to be funny. We want every author to succeed. We do whatever we can to help those things along.
SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog?
KL: Almost never. We prefer to have first publication rights. This becomes more true as the distinction between personal and professional publishing outlets continues to blur.
SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?
KL: We are always happy to engage in dialogue with authors about any part of the process. They are free to comment on our comments and ask for further clarification or other input. Most often we will accommodate them. If their comments consist entirely of reasons why they think their piece is funny enough for TheBigJewel.com even though we don't, it will be a short and somewhat one-sided conversation.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
KL: "What if an author is very sensitive and takes the rejection personally?"
It isn't personal. We're just five people who have strong opinions on what makes a good humor piece. We could be wrong, and I'm sure we sometimes are. People who cannot tolerate hearing the word "no" should not try to become writers or salespersons.
Thank you, Kurt. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 1/4--Six Questions for Keith Rebec and Molly Bonovsky Anderson, Editors, Pithead Chapel