Aug 09 2018
Comments Off on How to submit to literary magazines, part 3: Submissions best practices, or, the dos and don’ts

How to submit to literary magazines, part 3: Submissions best practices, or, the dos and don’ts

To conclude our three-part series on submitting your writing to literary magazines, we present the following list of dos and don’ts.

Some of these tips might be new, and some might rehash the best advice we offered in part 1 and part 2 of this blog series on submissions. Either way, these best practices separate the pros from the nos, so assimilate them into your submissions approach asap.

Do follow all submissions guidelines, especially regarding deadlines and number of pieces to send.

Don’t vent your frustration at being rejected to the editor who rejects you. Editors talk to each other. You want to be known as the writer of amazing short stories, poems, or essays, not of nasty emails.

Do follow and engage with editors and writers you like on social media. This is networking, community-building, socializing, etc. Writers like communicating, and if you’re just starting out, you can use all the contacts you can get.

Don’t publicly talk trash. If you’ve been rejected, nothing screams newbie like posting “Why didn’t [name of journal] publish my awesome poems?!” on Facebook. Also unacceptable: attempting to discuss your submission outside of the journal’s submission/query venue. In other words, the journal’s general correspondence email is the place for a query, question, or comment, not a public tweet to the editor’s personal Twitter handle.

Do keep track of your submissions. It doesn’t seem like a big deal when you send one batch of five stories to one journal. But then you send it out again, and maybe again, and — wait, which journal doesn’t take simultaneous submissions, and is it time to query about that first one yet…?

Don’t violate the “no simultaneous submissions” or “no previously published work” clauses of guidelines. I promise, if you do, you will someday find yourself in an embarrassing situation where you have to explain why you think you’re above the rules, and you could have your worked pulled or your acceptance revoked. Include, in your submission records, your journal-of-choice’s policy on both.

Do double-check that you’ve spelled the editor’s name(s) and the journal’s name correctly, and that the email address matches the journal.

Don’t, absolutely do not, forward the same submission, with generic cover letter, to 20 different journals. Inevitably, someone is going to hit “reply all,” inboxes will be jammed, and frustration will ensue. If you want an editor to personalize their response, you should personalize your submission.

Do handle rejection graciously. Don’t take it personally. Take heart. Sometimes rejection doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of your writing. Many editors try to organize issues around particular themes, and seek to publish not just the best work they receive, but the best work that fits that theme and/or meshes with the other accepted work. Plus, editorial preferences are subjective and fluid. Editors have bad days, or they get on kicks of publishing only a certain kind of work for a certain period of time. In sending out your work, you are trying to reach the right editor on the right day at the right time with the right piece for the right issue. As you might imagine, this can take some time. Patience and persistence are your friends. Still, it never hurts to re-visit the writing that was rejected and see if you can make it better before sending it out again…

We hope you’ve enjoyed and benefited from this series on submitting your writing to literary magazines. Please share your successes, your challenges, and your links to published work in the comments, if you like. Good luck!

What did you learn from this series? Will you or have you submitted your writing to literary magazines? Share with us in the comments!

Previously in this series:

How to submit to lit mags, part 1: 10 things to know about editors and guidelines

How to submit to lit mags, part 2: Submissions logistics

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