I’ve only come across the term once during my submission-call searches. A few publications have mentioned they’ll accept this, but not always.
And it’s understandable. Magazines and journals want original content–and they want it first. But they know you’re only submitting because you want to share, sell, and promote you and your writing, so they might offer this up.
What am I talking about?
The one place I saw the term “off-cuts” is here… Cast of Wonders, a young-adult fiction podcast site that takes in short stories and turns them into mini audiobooks. Their content is primarily for young adult audiences (often preferably written by young adult audiences) but they accept work from any and everyone as long as it is a story they wish to share.
Anyway, in their submission guidelines (that you always want to look at) they get into detail about the kind of content they wish to see. They’re pretty specific guidelines, sort of in a FAQ-style. Of course, you are free to inquire more should you have any questions.
If you scroll down, you’ll come to a bolded question: ‘Anything In Particular You’re Looking For?’ It mentions their editor is “always interested in receiving more short stories set in the worlds of existing novels. We refer to these as “off-cut” stories….”
I’m assuming they are talking about something similar to a ‘one-shot.’
Now, I searched the term ‘off-cut’ and got definitions referring to a body part getting cut off (with pictures). I searched the term ‘one-shot’ and it seemed a majority of the results define it as a short-story—which it technically can be, but I choose not to count it.
The only time I’ve come across the term ‘one-shot’ is in anime—more specifically, in regards to manga publishing. Manga authors often submit a one-shot to contests in manga collections. The one-shot is a small story set in the world of a larger work. Sounds repetitive to what Cast of Wonders defined, and it is.
Because the work must stand alone.
If you submit a piece of your novel, like a chapter, even if you believe it works on its own… maybe it shouldn’t work so well on its own. Not to mention that the reader doesn’t know what you know. You can’t tease them with information and hope they’ll buy your work just to find out. That’s just annoying.
I had thought about submitting a one-shot—or ‘off-cut’ as Cast of Wonders put it—about a character from The Page. It was going to be about Mandolin, the young witch who helps Thaniel, as she is not the central character there.
She travels a lot, a wanderer by nature, so I felt that I could write a small adventure featuring her… before Thaniel ever comes by to hire her. Besides, the second novel in the trilogy was going to focus on her anyway, so I figured it would be a good exercise in learning how to write this secondary character into the central character.
What stopped me was time. I didn’t have it.
But you see what I’m getting at. Someone should have been able to read that one-shot about Mandolin and have a beginning/middle/end without being confused about who she is. The stuff that happens in the main work, the novel, shouldn’t be relevant or necessary.
I think this is a great way for writers to promote their work. Yes, yes—we can purchase ad space on someone’s site or use services like Bookbub or Amazon’s ad campaign thingy. But this ‘off-cut’ thing is an ad that gives a reader a real taste of your work.
Can you imagine their excitement when they find out there’s a whole book with that character in it? I know I’d be happy.
In my opinion, it’s better than an excerpt because reading an excerpt or the first couple of chapters means you’ve already started the book—and now you have less to read. What had me convinced to submit to Cast of Wonders (even though I didn’t actually get to) was this:
We refer to these as “off-cut” stories, and love to run them because our audience can immediately buy the author’s novel to enjoy more of the same. If you’re submitting an off-cut, please let us know so we can make sure your biography includes full purchase links to the related novels
They also have information for you if your book isn’t out yet.
I’m not promoting Cast of Wonders in any sort of way. It’s just one of the few that I’ve seen that allows for this sort of thing; I can’t remember the others.
I plan to submit something soon. Click here to go to their site and see what they’re all about. Also, if you have a young person in your life who loves to write, Cast of Wonders takes submissions from them as well (with parent permission and signature).
Thank you for your time.