Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Meat and Potatoes

It took a while - longer than intended! - but Short Sharp Shock has published a collection of novellas: Meat and Potatoes (check it out here:

Congratulations to Marjorie Page, Vicki Winslow and John Woodington, the three featured authors! Dozens of writers submitted work and the standard was higher than expected. So, a successful "first" volume of S3 completed...

I say "first" because it's also the last. S3 is shutting down. It's been a pleasure reading the work of so many talented people, and it's wonderful to see first-hand the enthusiasm out there for the novella-form. But, to be blunt, this was always a labour of love, and this particular love turned out to be more of a crush! I'm going to devote my writing and editing skills to my own work, and my limited reading time to my ever-growing collection of books. Selfish, I realize, but nothing mean-spirited about it -- just a finite amount of time/resources and too many projects and priorities that trump S3.

If you've submitted to S3, I thank you, and wish you well in your pursuit of publication.

Best regards,
The Editor

Monday, March 7, 2011

Not accepting submissions

S3 is closed to submissions. We wish you all the best in your pursuit of novella publication.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas!

2010 draws to a close. Queries received before December were considered for the inaugural digest, while those received more recently will have to wait and see if they make it into issue two (slated for fall 2011).

We hoped to have the final lineup for volume one set by now. In fact, we hoped to have the first issue out by now! Neither has happened. This publication isn't a living for me - it isn't even a part-time job - so other things sometimes take precedence. That said, to those who were invited in October to submit complete manuscripts, you won't have much longer to wait. Some people have already been contacted, and everyone will hear in the first week of January.

I also want to thank everyone who has submitted since we started. I have been impressed with the interest writers have shown as well as the quality of the work we've received. As a writer, it's a bit depressing to realize books as solid as these have to fight to see publication in a POD digest paying next to nothing. Such is the life of the aspiring fiction author! The good news is that most of the work I've read shows promise--enough promise that the authors should stick with it. Call me an optimist, but it's my sincere belief that very few truly terrific books go unpublished. The one way to virtually guarantee you'll see print is to write an incredible book, and the only way to do that is to keep writing.

Volume one should be available early in 2011 (March?). I'll let you know here where it can be purchased. In the meantime, keep submitting. I don't post here often--it's a homepage, not really a blog--but we are always accepting submissions. All the best through the holidays.

- The Editor

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Why does S3 focus on novellas?

Many reasons, not the least of which being that the editor enjoys reading and writing them. This neglected format deserves more attention. Also, novellas are a great length for showcasing writers (long enough to allow a rich story to develop, but short enough to include multiple authors in each issue).

Is S3 self-publishing?

No. We produce the digest using print-on-demand (POD) services, but all of our contributors are pulled from the slush pile. Novellas are selected for S3 based on merit, nothing else. Writers do not pay to appear in the digest, and friends and family of the editor are not eligible for inclusion.

Does S3 pay well?

No. Twenty bucks and a free copy.

Where can S3 be purchased?

The digest is available from the POD service used to produce a particular issue.

Do you accept simultaneous submissions?


My book is a 20,000-word stream-of-consciousness dream sequence written without periods or paragraphs. Would S3 be interested?

Fuck no. We want snappy, commercial fiction. Kick our teeth in or don't bother.

What about novel excerpts or the first volume in a four-part series?

S3 only publishes complete, standalone stories, so no excerpts or series, please.

If my novella is rejected, can I resubmit it?


What if I write a really eloquent email explaining why you made a mistake and why you should reconsider? Seriously, my book is incredible and you'd have to be insane not to put it in S3.

Still no.

What kind of cover letters do you like with submissions?

Short and factual. A one- or two-sentence description of the story, and a brief mention of your publishing credits will suffice. Let the quality of the submission speak for itself.

Is S3 a good market for first-time authors?

Um...maybe? Here's the thing: We love the idea of giving a talented new writer his/her first publishing credit, but you need to be realistic about your own writing. It's unlikely the first time you put "pen to paper" you're going to generate genius. Oh sure, you might, but probably not. So if you're a rank novice, we'd suggest writing three novellas then sending in your favorite. The point is, most "first-time" authors have actually been writing for a long time before they get their first break. It's not a rule, or anything, just the way it usually works out. Don't let us discourage you, though. If this is your very first work of fiction and you believe in it wholeheartedly, send in the first thousand words and we'll see.

Why don't you have a snail mail address?

We do, we just don't make it public. S3 is based in Nova Scotia. If we like your sample, and we like subsequent chapters, we may eventually invite you to mail a hard copy of your complete novella. Our location isn't top secret, we just don't want to be flooded with oversized envelopes or uninvited visitors.

A hotmail account, a blogspot home page and POD publication. Are you guys cheap, or what?

Yes. We try to keep our costs as close to zero as possible.

You rejected my story. Who died and made you the experts?

If you're serious about pursuing a career in writing, come to terms with rejection. A lot of subjectivity goes into selecting stories for publication. If we say no, someone else may say yes, or you can always self-publish. And yes, it's possible your novella is terrific and we just didn't see it. (It's also possible it isn't great, and the sooner you recognize the flaws in your writing, the sooner you can correct them.)


  • Email queries to
  • S3 only accepts electronic queries.
  • Send a cover note, and the first thousand words of your novella IN THE BODY OF AN EMAIL (do not send attachments or entire manuscripts). If we like what we read, we'll request more. If the decision is made to ask for an entire hard (paper) copy of the the manuscript, you will need to send it via snail mail to a Canadian address which will be provided.
  • If you are invited to send in a hard copy, the actual manuscript will be discarded, not returned.
  • If you receive a rejection email, this is not an invitation to engage in a debate about the merits of your writing. Decisions are final, but writers are always welcome to submit a different work.
  • When it comes to the format of manuscripts, clean paper, clean fonts, good spacing and margins are preferred. Important: make sure your name and the novella's title are in the header of each page, and the pages are numbered. Spelling and grammar matter, and skip gimmicks (colored paper, funny fonts, etc).
  • When a manuscript is accepted for publication, a Word document will need to be provided by the author.
  • Word count must be 20,000 to 35,000.
  • Submissions are invited from anywhere in the world (English only, please), and simultaneous submissions are welcome.
  • All work must be original and unpublished. Don't send anything that will land us in court.
  • Each issue of S3 contains three novellas (by different authors).
  • Authors can only be published in S3 once. We want our contributors to move on to book deals.
  • Payment is $20 (Canadian) and one comp copy. We'll also send one copy and a press release, at our expense, to a media outlet in your market. We are purchasing first print rights, with a one-year exclusive. Each issue of S3 is sold online for one year after which it is "de-activated" and no longer available for purchase. All of your rights revert to you at this time. We reserve the right to stockpile up to 100 copies of each issue for future sales.