Friday, February 12, 2016

How to get Published at Listverse: Waiting on a Response

Readers often contact me for tips on how to get published at Listverse so I thought I might post some general tips and guidelines, stuff you won't find in the Listverse Style Guide.

Let's get the obvious stuff out of the way. Your article has to be well-written, free of typos, and feature crisp, varied sentences. The shorter the sentence, the better, but too many short sentences and the writing will feel stilted. It's a balance, and the only way to get better is to practice.

Pro-tip: The less editing your list needs, the faster Listverse will respond to you. 

If your list is polished they will publish it so fast it will blister your toes. Many of my lists have been accepted and published within a span of three or four days. These are under ideal conditions, meaning your premise is interesting, your sources are good, and your entries match your premise. Good job.

I've seen a lot of people complaining on Facebook that Listverse is not responding to their submissions. This has happened to me and every Listverse author that I'm aware of, so don't feel too bad. There are a lot of reasons this happens and you can't know them all without being in an editor's head, but I will say that every time there has been a delay in their response — every time — my list has needed some work. And the more work needed, the longer the delay. I've noticed it goes something like this:

  • Some sources need changing (but everything else is good) — a short delay, if any.
  • Some entries need replacing — a bit longer delay, maybe between 3-7 days.
  • The premise needs tweaking — Takes a while to get back to you. May have to send them a reminder email after two weeks and bug them about it. If this is the case, review your list and consider ways you can make it better before you re-submit and send that email.

You may be wondering, "Why is there any delay at all? Don't they respond to each list in the order received?"

No, they don't.

Pro-tip: Listverse does not respond to submissions in the order they are received. 

After I submitted my list on mystical cats, I heard nothing for a week or two. In the meantime my list on pirates had been accepted, published, and paid for. I assumed that there might be something wrong with the cat list so I rethought the premise, submitted a new version, and nudged them to look at it. Alex (an excellent editor) got back to me, said he liked the new premise and asked if I could replace two of the entries. And voila:

10 Strange and Mystical Cats People Believed In

Some of the editors are in college/university, which means that during some months of the year, like during exams, they don't have much time to give feedback to submissions. But they still need to post three lists a day. So the closer your list is to publishable quality, the faster it will be accepted.

Now how exactly do you get a list to publishable quality? Glad you asked.

In the coming posts I'll talk about easy ways to find sources for obscure information. How to link those sources so the editors can find them in mountains of text (which will decrease their response time). How you can take "the same obscure facts that are repeated all over the internet" and present them in new and interesting ways. How to summarize dry histories and make them exciting. And how to tell a story by writing a list.

Any questions so far? Leave a comment. If not, on to the next post (I'll link to the next post when it's available).

Saturday, February 6, 2016

More Korean Fairy Tales

Edit: I added a translation for the first video, which I forgot was in Korean.

Gold Ax, Silver Ax

There was an honest woodcutter who worked to provide a living for his parents. One day while chopping a tree, his iron ax slipped out of his hands and flew into the nearby river, where it was lost. The woodcutter couldn't afford another ax. His parents would starve. He sat down beside the river and cried.

But the ax landed at the feet of a god who lived at the bottom of the river, and the god decided to test the woodcutter. The god emerged from the water and said, “Lowly human, you seem to have dropped your ax.” The god produced an ax with a shining silver blade.

“I did drop my ax” said the woodcutter, “but that is not mine.”

“Then is this your ax?” The river god conjured an ax with solid gold blade.

The woodcutter shook his head. “My ax has an iron blade.”

The river god gave the woodcutter back his iron ax. “That's the one! Thank you very much.” The god rewarded the woodcutter for his honesty by giving him all three axes. From then on his parents lived a rich life.

A dishonest woodcutter happened to overhear the tale of the gold and silver axes, so he went to the same river and through his iron ax in, where it nearly struck the god on the head. The god emerged and gave the dishonest woodcutter the same test, but the dishonest woodcutter claimed the gold and silver axes belonged to him. The god was angry and left with all three axes. The dishonest woodcutter was now left without an iron ax, and his business was ruined.

The Rabbit's Judgment

Monday, February 1, 2016

Blue Frog: A Korean Fairy Tale

photo by Daan de Vos
There was once a widower frog who had a disobedient son named Blue Frog. Blue Frog always did the opposite of what his mother told him. If she said to go play in the hills, he went swimming in the pond. If she told him to swim in the pond, he would play in the hills. If she told him to sit down and eat his mosquito pie, he would stand and relieve himself.

“Blue Frog!” shouted the mother. “Just once I wish you'd do as I say! Anything at all! Please say, 'ribbit, ribbit,'”

Blue Frog said, “Bit-rib, bit-rib!” and danced off into the distance.

Soon the mother frog had become ill, and she felt it was her time to die. She thought to herself, “That foolish son of mine always does the opposite of what I say. If I tell him to bury me on the mountain, he'll bury me by the creek, where the rains will wash my body away.” So on her deathbed, she told her son to bury her by the creek, knowing he would do the opposite.

Blue Frog blamed himself for his mother's death. “I'm so sorry, mother,” he cried. “You got sick because I never listened. From now on I will do as you say. Ribbit, ribbit!” Blue Frog didn't think it was a very good idea to bury his mother near the creek, but he vowed to follow her wishes. Now, whenever it rains, the Blue Frog worries about his mother and cries "ribbit, ribbit."