Tuesday, March 29, 2011

03 29 11 The Nuts ‘N Bolts of Story Submission. Part I - Why the F*#k Submit?

This is part one of my four part series on submitting. Each part will come out the following Tuesday for the next month.

In part one I attempt to answer the question: Why the F*#k Submit?

Okay, you’ve written a short story, had it critiqued in workshops, revised it a few times, maybe had it critiqued again, revised it again and now you feel like you’ve got something pretty good. What’s your next step? Show it to your significant other? Read it to yourself? Or maybe just toss it in a drawer with the others you’ve written, dream about them being published and move on to the next piece.

The other alternative is to make the attempt to get them into publications. I’ve read many stories in workshops that I thought would make terrific additions to literary journals and magazines. I also thought that some of my stories would do the same thing so I decided to give it a try.

I’m here to attest that the system works! I’ve had, or will have, eight stories in print. I’ve had a poem in print, and nearly a dozen online articles. I’ve had a second place winner in no-fee poem contest take second place. It carried a big payout:  $764.00. I’m soon to have a story come out in audio. And, I have a sci-fi book coming out in July.

I’m not saying this to brag on myself – that’s what my website’s for. I’m mentioning this for one reason: my writing isn’t any better than a lot of other writers out there, but the difference is I make the effort to submit. And as more proof I’m not a literary genius, it’s
taken me around 300 submissions to get to where I am.

I know a lot of great up-and-coming writers who toil at their craft but for some god-awful reason won’t send their stuff out, or if they do submit it’s such a minimal effort that nothing usually comes from it.

This is something I don’t understand. For me, it’s akin to a musician who toils day after day after day in his room but never plays in front of the public.

Hopefully, what I’ve learned about the process will remove any fear and encourage you – the writer – to send your work out, and save time and energy while you’re doing it.

Submitting isn’t necessarily a hard process but it can be tedious, time consuming and intimidating. So why do it? There are several reasons: The biggest is probably the thrill of being accepted and seeing your work in print or online. You get a sense of pride and validation. You get bragging rights. You build up a resume and in the process provide agents and publishers a way to gauge your commitment and credibility. If you’re lucky you get a little bit of money. On the bittersweet side it teaches you to deal with rejection. I think that’s probably the number one reason people don’t make a serious effort to submit, followed closely behind, as I said, by intimidation, and then laziness or a lack of determination.

On the subject of rejection: Yes, it hurts, but the hurt lessens the more you do it. I compare it to jumping into a cold pool. It stings really badly at first, but then you get used to the temperature and the blow softens, though I don’t think it ever completely disappears.

A major factor in overcoming rejection is to constantly have something out there for consideration. It’s that ‘another fish in the ocean’ philosophy. The main thing is to take that first plunge and to stay in the water.

Are you ready? God I hope so because I can’t hype this anymore.

Next Tuesday we start with PRE-PREPARATION. It’s the key to your success. See you then.


  1. Good energy. I'm all aboard the submission train. Sometimes it gets costly, though, since the big presses have reading fees they collect before not reading your submission.

    But I'm all in. Race you to the press.

  2. Louie, you are lighting a fire under me. I really want to submit the children's book my daughter and I wrote together. We also did the illustrations. Not sure how or where to send it.

  3. Stu - No, No No! I'm talking about submitting to places without spending a dime. Stay tuned!! They're not all big presses but they're respected and that's important.

    Debbie - the first thing you're going to need is a good query letter so you can try and lure an agent.

  4. Finally catching up on this series, Louis. Thanks for sharing!

    I think my biggest hurdle for submitting, believe it or not, is the time spent waiting for a response. Weeks or months passing by, when I might have heard back from a publisher much earlier if I'd submitted somewhere else...and they don't accept simultaneous subs! Argh!

    Then there are all the un-polished stories on my hard drive. *sigh* Hoping you can inspire me :)