A little more insight into how we choose posts

I generally deal with CaféLit at about 1.30 p.m. every single day except my birthday, Christmas Day and any day I’m travelling. I like to keep stories scheduled a week in advance and this can lead on a given day to no stories being scheduled or several stories being scheduled. The norm is one a day, however.

Occasionally I’ll schedule for a completely different time: if something is particularly seasonal, for example. Sometimes  writers send more than one story at a time.  On the whole I’d discourage this practice. But if they do and I like them both, I’ll schedule one for a in a week’s time and one for a month after that.

When I open my inbox at around 1.30 p.m.  I’ll sometimes find just one story. Lucky writer! Unless it’s not at all right for us it will get published. More often than not there are at least three or four and sometimes as many as eight or nine. So I’ll pick the very best. It’s rare though that one shines out as much better than the others.  Often there will be a couple or even three or four that seem equally well written. So then we apply the selection criteria.

Everything else being equal we’ll rank in this order:

  • Does this contrast or complement what we’ve published recently? i.e. is if funny after a few dark ones? Is it short after a few long ones?
  • Is it seasonal? Should it be published on a particular date? However, note here that if I pick up one on 2 February that should be published on 3 April, I’ll still have to look for another one for 9 February.
  • Ah. A new writer. What fun.
  • Have I published a lot by this author recently? So I won’t pick this one this time. Conversely, we’ve not heard from him / her in a while. Nice to have her / him on board again. Yes this will be today’s post.    
  • Is this a full submission? Does it include a by line with author name spelt as they want it? Have they remembered to assign a drink? Have they included an appropriate bio, preferably with link, including to their author page with us if they have one?
  • Have they set it out in such a way that all I need to do is cut and paste?
  • Is this a writer who makes few mistakes in their work?
  • Is this a writer who attracts lots of people to read their work?

Remember as well, if your story is of publishable quality but we don’t chose to publish it this time, we’ll put in in the archive.

Some days- often around the time of public bank holidays or in general holiday period - we get no stories. Then we’ll dip into the archive. Generally speaking, the longer a story has been in the archive, the less likely it is to be chosen; we work backwards through the archive.  But there are exceptions. For instance at the end of 2019 a few Christmas stories came in even though our Christmas schedule was full. They may well get used in 2020.

The good news is that we reject really quickly.  No news then is good news.

It’s easy to see that there is an element of luck involved. If you land on a day when no one else has submitted or you’re last in the archive, you’ll be lucky. If you land on a day when we have lots of submissions you may be unlucky.

And there is one other little quirk.  We have four people at the moment writing serials which we then intend to turn into e-books and Amazon paperbacks.  When one of these arrives I tend to schedule them at once to avoid the danger of me forgetting them.

It’s not too different from what happens elsewhere.

A picture book text I’ve tried to sell for a long time was rejected by a very sympathetic publisher who was currently working on a book with a similar theme.

When we put Gentle Footprints together, some of the animals featured were very popular.  So we had to pick the best story about swans, bears, or tigers etc.. There were some very good ones that we had to reject.

Depending on mood and present circumstances, a publisher will either stick with writers they know well or take a punt on a promising new writer.

Lots of reasons to keep submitting then.  Don’t give up if not every single one of your stories is accepted.  We can’t print them all. How can you optimise this?

  • Always offer your very, very best.
  • Consider offering something seasonal. (Not all the time though; we need some ordinary stories as well. But perhaps if we’ve not published you for a while ….. )
  • Don’t submit too much at once. Leave a couple of weeks between submissions.
  • Make sure you’ve included everything, and preferably set out perfectly.
  • Thoroughly proof read.
  • Be proud of your work every time we do publish it and let as many people as possible know.

 Happy writing! We look forward to reading your work.

A few more pleas here about submission to the e-zine:   

Do name your drink. Always include a short third-person bio and links, and if you have a page on the site, put in a link to that. We want to keep sending people to those author pages.

If you want to send corrections between when I’ve accepted and the scheduled publication date, please send the whole text with the bits you want to change highlighted in red.  Remember I do a copy edit and proof read before I post.  Sometimes I’ve already spotted mistakes and sometimes when authors send through new versions they reintroduce errors I’ve already corrected.  Sometimes I totally miss things and if you spot something post-publication also let me know.   

Editing

Each story does get a quick copy edit before it is published – we find an occasional typo, spelling, punctuation or grammatical mistake, repeated word or missed out word.  We may not catch them all, so if you spot something please let us know. 

As I said above, do remember that bio each time and a beverage, and if you have a page with us, include the link. That is good for your own publicity and marketing and it may also help your readers discover other writers.  We are a team and a community.   

Find general submission guidelines here.

Acceptance / rejection

Remember too that if we don’t actually reject your story we do keep it on file as we deem it to be of publishable quality. You can withdraw your story at any time but please tell us the date you submitted so that we can find it more easily.  It’s probably safe enough for you to submit elsewhere after we’ve had your story for about a month. 

Shelf-life

We ask that we may keep your stories on the site for twelve months. Even while they’re on the site you may publish them elsewhere though it would be nice if you gave us a mention.  After the year we still keep them on this site but will take them down if you ask us to. However, do remember that your story may be selected for the Best of collection for that year.  Decisions are generally made by 30 April the year after publication on the site. 

Author pages 

On offer for CaféLit authors is a page on our web site. See examples here.  The list is growing. Click on the names to find out more about the authors and to access their work. If you're a CaféLit author and would like a web page, use the ones there to get ideas. You need to send me between 250 and 350 words about yourself, an attractive image, a list of up to six publications, up to six awards and up to six links. I then also link the page to your stories on CaféLit. Send to gill at cafelit dot co dot uk.