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).

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