It’s that time of year again when nights get a bit colder, pumpkin becomes the go-to flavor option for just about everything, and cardigans become a necessity instead of a choice. Its fall—and you know what that means—submission season has officially begun (again)! This year, instead of cursing your computer and fearing the dreaded “form rejection”—get pumped!
Find the drafts you swore you wouldn’t touch again and remember these tips when the submission drag has you wondering why you wanted to be a writer in the first place.
1. Revise. Yes, revise.
We know what you’re thinking, “That’s a no brainer! How dare you insinuate…” We all have those pesky pieces that just can’t find a home—no matter how darling they look in that fancy font. (Please don’t use fancy fonts.) But let’s face it, sometimes it’s not the journal, it’s the piece. Take a hard look at the poems and stories you submit this season, chances are they could use a little sprucing up.
2. Bundle up.
Once your work is sporting a fresh revision, think about how it relates to other pieces in your repertoire. Journals offer the opportunity to show a range of work based on word/page count, and are often intrigued by writers whose work demonstrates a larger vision. If the piece is strong on its own, it may be even more attractive alongside its siblings. Instead of submitting hodgepodge leftovers, send editors a manuscript that you’ve carefully curated.
**Remember to allow the work to speak for itself. Editors will probably overlook a lengthy cover letter detailing how these stories/poems relate thematically to your life’s oeuvre.**
Writing is only half the battle for publication. When submitting to journals think about who you are submitting to. Websites like New Pages and Poets & Writers give you a head start, but mission statements and “About Us” sections are the secret gateways into journals. Take a few minutes to look them over. Often there will be keywords that reveal what the journal is looking for and what they want to publish. Figure out if your work will be comfortable in the pages. Remember, we are more than just a glossy cover and a pretty name. Get to know us!
At this point the hardest part is over. You’ve written, revised, and sent your progeny forth into the literary world. Now it’s time to keep track of where they are and how long they have been away from home. Set up an Excel sheet or a chart in Word (sign up for Duotrope if you have to!) but make sure you have a log of what pieces you sent where and when you sent them. It seems easy enough now, but if you slack on this critical step you’ll find yourself sending queries before editors have had enough time to look over your work.
Once you’ve revised, bundled, researched, and organized, RELAX! This is the fun part. Let your hard work do its own work now. It’s not going to blow up in your face…
This submission season, don’t focus on reputation or rejection. Think about your individual work and where it might find a home. Give yourself time to grieve when rejections inevitably crash your inbox party (it happens to everyone, and we mean everyone). Most importantly, allow yourself to celebrate acceptances because it takes a lot more than just writing to get from page to print.
Thanks for the encouragement–it’s always good to reacquaint myself with these fundamentals of submission season.
My favorite thing, though, is the kid in the background of the .gif in #4 … his sideways shuffle says, “Oh, oh no!”
The “About Us” truly is the gateway into a journal. Great tips!
This was an amazing post! It was so witty and entertaining yet taught an important lesson at the same time. I have not submitted anything before, but I plan to look back at this post when I do.
Your blog post made me chuckle but also reminded me there is a place out there for my work. I have learned the value of doing detailed research and reviewing my work several times before completion. Yes, ’tis the season!