Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.
A: Humour of about 500 words
Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?
A: In the realm of comedy publishing on the Internet, The Spoof - http://www.thespoof.com/ - is brilliant. It’s easy to publish on that site, and the content is great fun.
Private Eye has become something of an institution, but still unsettles those in public life who may be incompetent or corrupt.
Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?
A: The Short Humour Site publishes humour which can be fact or fiction, and can be expressed in poetry, stories or in any other written form.
The list of my favourite writers of humour is a long one, but includes: P.G. Woodhouse, Douglas Adams, Spike Milligan, David Nobbs, Woody Allen, Terry Pratchett, Tom Sharpe, Ben Elton, Alan Pinkett and R. L.Tilley.
I would like to add a special mention for Robert Benchley and Stephen Leacock whose Short Humour would have been an enormous privilege to exhibit on the Short Humour Site had they still been alive. They remain something of an inspiration to me, the latter having been born in the village in which I live.
Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?
A: I try to respond to contributors in a way that I would like to experience whenever I submit material to other publishers. I hope to provide a fast, personal and constructive response to all who submit material to the Writers’ Showcase of the Short Humour Site.
I start from the premise that I will publish all submissions, and I do not presume to be an arbiter of what is funny. I would like the readers of the site to choose what they like from the work of the increasingly large number of contributors.
If there is a significant problem with a submission, I explain my concerns to the contributor and try to work with him or her to produce something that can be published.
In addition to publication on the site, I have published, via Lulu.com, two paperback anthologies of work by contributors to the Writers’ Showcase, and I plan to publish others. I don’t take a profit on the anthologies, so they are as inexpensive as possible for contributors to buy, should they wish to do so.
The Short Humour Site makes money from the sale of my own stories and books, which are written under the pen name of Swan Morrison. All the money made from Short Humour is donated to a UK registered charity supporting people in Africa called Friends of Teso (Uganda) - http://www.friends-of-teso-uganda.org.uk/.
Finally, the Short Humour Site is not commercial, requires no membership and carries no advertising, other than for publications produced by the site or by contributing writers.
Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?
A: It’s quite difficult to have a piece rejected by the Short Humour Site. All anyone has to do to be published on the site is:
-- express a comic idea in any written form: story, poem, song etc.
-- develop it in around 500 words.
-- avoid being unnecessarily offensive in terms of the sexual content of the piece or its treatment of gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability or other such issues.
The audience target age is 13 years plus.
If contributors follow the submission guidelines, they can’t go far wrong.
Q: Describe the ideal submission.
A: In my view, the best stories have a clever or interesting central comic idea which is then developed well to a conclusion, preferably with lots of other jokes or comic observations along the way.
Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?
A: They don’t read the submission guidelines. The main problem is pieces which are not of around 500 words.
Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?
A: I don’t need to know anything about a contributor, other than his or her email address. However, a bio for nearly every contributor appears on the site. I, and I am sure other readers too, like to know a little about who writes the stories. Also, the site will provide links to their websites, blogs etc.
The bios tend to contain the town and country in which a contributor lives, something about his or her life and something about his or her writing, including where else they have been published.
I have maintained an enjoyable email dialogue with some contributors.
Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?
A: I always read all submissions to the end, although that’s easy for me with contributions of 500 words.
If I can’t publish a piece, I try to encourage the contributor to either change the piece or submit something else. If they don’t want to do that then, in effect, they select themselves out of the process.
Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?
A: The Writers’ Showcase of the Short Humour Site is designed to allow contributors to easily showcase their work at no cost to themselves. I evaluate submissions against the few, fairly objective criteria in the submission guidelines. There are no additional hurdles for contributors to overcome.
Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?
A: The Short Humour Site is a hobby. I work part-time as a social worker and have other interests such as growing vegetables, playing guitar and, of course, writing Short Humour under the pen name of Swan Morrison.
The site uses Google Analytics, and I can see that it currently (May 2010) receives about 2,000 pageviews each month from across the world. I was particularly pleased, this year, to gain our first two contributors from China.
I check the site emails most days, and try to respond to submissions immediately. It’s great fun reading the submissions. I always look forward to the next.
I created and developed the programming behind the Short Humour Site, and have automated the process for adding new writers and stories to make it as efficient as possible. I don’t spend a lot of time each day working on the site because I try to avoid any backlog.
At the moment (May 2010), the site gains an average of two new writers each week and about five new stories.
This rate has been slowly increasing. There are now a lot of contributors and a large number of stories on the site, and it is clearly becoming more widely known. I worry that a point may be reached at which there would be a larger escalation in submissions.
I could comfortably manage a new writer and a couple of new stories each day. If it went beyond that, I wouldn’t be able to maintain my current approach of trying to provide contributors with the experience that I would like to have when I submit work to other publications. I’ll try to solve that problem when/if it happens.
Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?
A: I think it is critical, as electronic media are the way of the future. Indeed, they are the way of the present.
I have recently added an RSS feed to the Short Humour Site, and I now post site updates on Twitter.
For me, the use of the technology is good fun. I imagine that for a commercial publisher, a failure to embrace electronic media at all levels, from submissions through production to marketing, would be a commercial disaster, unless the publisher had found some very odd and very specific niche – and how long could that last?