Prepare your Submission
Before you submit to Sector 13 or indeed any other zine or comic, we’d advise that you do some research and see what the editorial preferences for the publication are. Get a copy or two and go through them. Look at the work that they publish and try to get a handle on what they want and what they need.
For Sector 13 I hope you’ll see that we don’t have a house style in either story or art, we aim to feature as many different styles as possible in our pages. So it may well be that in our case you’re looking for what isn’t featured in our pages - not yet.
If you have any questions before you submit, do talk to us. Either on Facebook or by e-mail or at one of our monthly meetings in Belfast. We’ll answer whatever we can and even chat about your story or art in advance. With stories in particular, we are very open to helping get ideas from your head onto the page. We'll help with scripting and structuring your story. But please do talk to us.
Make sure you understand the terms on which you are contributing. Sector 13 is a non-profit zine, nobody gets paid but the printer, you’ll get a comp copy and our thanks but that is it I’m afraid. Copyright of any original work (non-2000AD characters) remain with the creators.
Then check and see if there are submission guidelines and read them, carefully. In our case that means seeing that we don’t want, for example Dredd or Strontium Dog stories, we want stories set in those worlds but using new characters as the leads. So if you have a brilliant idea for Dredd story, I know someone who’d be really interested in that, but it isn’t us.
Some places demand scripts in a particular format or images in a specific type of file. Check that before you send something to them. This does not apply in our case, but it’s always worth having a look to see the format’s we prefer. (Word is better than pdf for scripts, as we can amend and add to word documents).
Artists should look carefully at what the publication wants. Sector 13 is a comic, we want sequential art. We use very few pin-ups and cover art is something we chase up ourselves. So sending a lot of single images is not going to be as useful as sending a comic strip. We want to see how well an artist tells a story.
Then make sure your submission is the best it can be. Take a final look at your script or artwork before you send it and spell-check everything. Make sure your script is as easy to follow as it can be, that the images are readable and good quality.
Make the Submission
All submissions should be made to the editorial e-mail address, not to any other address you might have. It makes life simpler for everyone. For Sector 13 that is Sector13@boxofrainmag.co.uk. Main reason for this is that if they go anywhere else they can get lost or delayed, so it’s simpler to keep everything together.
If the files are too big for e-mail, try mailbigfile.com, and send to the editorial address.
When sending a submission we like to hear something about you. Who you are, where you live what strips you like etc. Why are you submitting to us, why you like 2000 AD. Other places may be different but at Sector 13 we really are interested.
Then you just sit back and wait.
Sector 13 Editorial Process
Once the submissions are sent, they all go through the same process. Editor, Peter Duncan (me) sees them first, I go through them, read the scripts and examine the art. At this stage a very small number of submissions may be rejected. One was sent back because it was a story copied from an old pre-superhero Marvel comic by Steve Ditko that I recognised, another because it missed the PG-13 rating of Sector 13 by quite a long way!
The rest are forwarded to the wider editorial team, consist
ing of Laurence McKenna, Simon McKnight and on certain stories, James McBride. Discussions follow on what we do with the submission. The format is that we try to reach a consensus view, if we can’t then I, as editor, have the casting vote but to date I’m not sure that has been necessary. The results of the deliberations will be communicated by me as editor.
We instituted this as a strict process as in the early days, arguments over stories among a much bigger and badly defined editorial team almost brought the zine to an premature end.
For scripts the answer coming out will normally be either “who do we want to draw this”, “what do we need to get changed for this to work” or “sorry, can’t use this”. It’ll then be up to me to send a response.
We try to be both constructive and honest. Acceptances are easy, rejections more difficult. We’ll normally say why we’ve turned down a story, what needs to be better (or different) for a future submission to succeed and if we think amendments to this particular story might help.
We also say what we liked about a submission. Often storytelling is good while the quality of drawing needs some work. Or a script may tell a good story but not be suitable for a comic.
More recently we’ve had scripts where we thought the decision was a very close thing and asked the writer if he would mind if we gave it to an artist in the same position to see what they made of it. No promises as to what we would do with it. The result was a great success which will see print in our next issue.
For artists, our answers tend to be “yes, we have the perfect script for you”, “yes, as soon as we find a script for you” or “no, not at the moment”.
Again, we will normally give reasons for our decisions, which will be as honest and constructive as we can be. We do appreciate that rejections are not pleasant and that contributors may not agree with us. But at the end of the day it is our magazine and we have to decide what goes into it. We will give advice as best we can. It is there for you to use as you wish.
Once your script has been accepted or we’ve told you we’d like to use your artwork, it all comes down to scheduling. At the moment we have material in track that will fill multiple issues, so you may be in for a wait.
If, after a month or so, you have not heard from us, do send us a reminder. There is no problem with that. And if we tell you we’ll look at the schedule in two months, remind us. Contact does not annoy us at all.
Sector 13 want to feature as many writers and artists as we can. We are always looking for new talent and at new ways to get them ‘into print’. Do take a look at what we do, and don’t be scared to submit. We don’t bite, not even me, and we start from the position that we want people to see themselves in print.
We will always give the best advise we can, but if you don’t want that and simply want a yes/no answer, please do make that clear and we can work with you that way as well. But bear in mind, the advice we give is based on what we want you to do to enable us to accept your next submission.
Things That Annoy Editors (or how not to be accepted for publication).
Editors are human, well some of them are avian too. They have responsibility for what appears in their publications and want it to be as good as it can be. Most of them want to say yes to contributors so it’s probably best not to annoy them needlessly. These are a few things I’d advise would-be contributors not to do.
Argue with an editor’s decision. If an editor does not want to publish your work arguing will not help. But it may make them think twice about engaging with you the next time.
Bombard them with submissions. Its fine to send 3-4 scripts at a time – but bear in mind response may be slow. Likewise artist’s samples can consist of a number of pages, but please send your submission and then wait. We recently had fourteen versions of the same pages send on successive days. I finally had to ask the artist to stop – that was totally counter-productive.
Slag off the editor or the publication for their decisions on social media, especially if you know they will be watching. You may feel like doing this after you get a grumpy return from Sector 13, but it’s not a good idea. The editor may try to ignore the insult in the future, but he’s only human (or avian, or something) and you may well have burnt your boats in terms of ever getting published there.
Preview you work online, before it is published. This drives one editor I know to distraction, it’s a good job his hair is already (prematurely) white! It should be an absolute no-no for any paid work and even for a free market is not the best idea in the world. Previews like this reduce the impact of a story when it finally appears and editors hate it!