Founders Note

How did MASH Stories come to life?:
A note from our Founder S.E. SEVER 

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I remember the day I found The Grinder website and signed up to Duotrope – the two major websites that list short story competitions.  At that time, there were over 2,300 competitions listed on The Grinder, and 28,638 submissions had already been made. Duotrope was even more depressing. On their homepage, there was this statement: 4842. That’s the number of current fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets that we list for your submitting pleasure.

What pleasure? I wanted to ask. I guess they were being sarcastic. They must have been.

The DO’s and DON’T’s of the competitions market.

Duotrope and the Grinder websites’ search engines undoubtedly make the submissions process much easier; you can search for particular markets, and pinpoint the publications you think are relevant for your style of writing, but that’s still only the start of submissions torture.

We all know that each competition has its own submission rules: use Times New Roman, make it font-size 12, make sure it’s double spaced, don’t justify the text, put your title here not there, don’t write your name anywhere, attach a cover letter, include a self-addressed envelope, simultaneous submissions are not accepted. . .

MASH logo_squareAs if all this was not enough, writers have to pay to submit their work. Yes, as a writer, you are expected to spend days, weeks, or sometimes months writing a story, formatting it differently for each competition, then paying just to get through the door, and waiting for months without submitting your story anywhere else—just because some competitions want to be the first, and sometimes the only one, to publish a story. This would be okay if they were paying the writer a reasonable amount for this. But unfortunately, most competitions pay either nothing or peanuts. One magazine offered me $10 to buy the ‘exclusive’ rights for one of my stories. I thought there was a typo there, but apparently there wasn’t. Instead I gave them the story for free, but of course only granted the non-exclusive rights. I thought that was a fairer deal for both parties; in the end nobody felt insulted.

It is understandable that there have to be some rules in order to have a sensible competition. But why this fuss about the font-type and text alignment? Shouldn’t a short story competition be about the story itself rather than its formatting? Besides, these days, most competitions require a Word document to be submitted. How long does it take to change a font, if it doesn’t appeal to your taste?

That’s how MASH Stories was born.

I dreamt of submitting my work to a competition that evaluated the story, instead of its formatting; that paid me reasonably, rather than charging me fees; and helped me to promote my work, rather than demanding exclusive rights to limit it.

This is the intention behind MASH Stories. It may be another drop in the ocean of competitions, but at least the rules are kept to a minimum, and the award for the winning story is well above the professional rate.

Besides we’ll collaborate with other fiction magazines, and help our writers to get published in other markets. I hope our efforts will help talented writers to get their voices heard.

Why not take part in this adventure, either by sending us a story, or donating to us, or by giving us a hand with editorial matters? Please check out our Support Page to give us a hand.

Thank you for your interest!

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S.E. is the Founder of Mash Stories. She has had short stories published in fiction magazines across the US and the UK. One of her stories was included in The Subtopian: Selected Stories. Her poetry book, Before Me, is published by Thought Catalog Books, New York. She is currently working on a science fiction novel called Split Watch. You can read some of her short stories and poems at http://sesever.com.

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