Thursday, April 21, 2011

04 21 11 The Nuts ‘N Bolts of Story Submission. Part IV : IT’S TIME TO SUBMIT!

This is the final installment of my four part series, The Nuts ‘N Bolts of Story Submission.

In part one I discussed the reasons for submitting, in part two I talked about pre-preparation, in part three I talked about getting your game plan together, and now in part four IT’S TIME TO SUBMIT!

The most convenient way to find publications is through online search engines.

DOUTROPE’S DIGEST is my favorite. It has a great search engine with many criteria options. It’s extremely convenient and the search results are listed similar to a data sheet so there’s a lot of info. Numerous publications are on the same page. As with all the online search engines there are links to the publications included.

POETS AND WRITERS - Not as convenient, but Nearly 600 Literary Journals Are Listed. The link is: look under their Tools For Writers menu.

NEWPAGES.COM – Again, not as convenient as Doutrope, but it’s geared toward university and indie publications, and indie publishers. The link is:

CRWOPPS: Creative Writer’s Opportunity List - Allison Joseph’s yahoo group. Emails are sent to members daily. It’s mostly geared toward fee based contests, and occasionally submission requests. To join go to:



If you’re looking for a print publication, check to see if they have a subscription page. If they don’t they’re probably online only. Make sure their version of print is your version of print. I don’t count a downloadable PDF file as a print publication. Some of them do. Check when the last issue came out to make sure they’re active.

ALWAYS READ THE PUBLISHER’S GUIDELINES before you submit to them. If you don’t, you may be rejected for not following the rules. You may be accepted in a publication that you’ll regret later.

SUBMIT TO A PUBLICATION THAT’S APPROPRIATE FOR YOUR STORY. You may have a great story, but if it’s not the type the editor is looking for you’ll be wasting your time.

ONCE YOU GET INTO THE HABIT OF SUBMITTING IT’S IMPORTANT TO MAINTANE: make submitting part of your writing regimen. The best way is to put together a weekly routine or goal. DON’T MAKE IT STRENUOUS.

Maybe devote an hour a week to it. That’s less than 10 minutes a day.

Maybe have a number goal instead: six submissions a week: that’s less than one a day.

IT’S VITAL TO KEEP THE BALL ROLLING. Don’t get discouraged. I went nearly a year from my first fiction acceptance to my second one. Remember that it’s a subjective process. What doesn’t work for one editor may work for another, but you have to get it to them so they can make that decision.

Submitting – done properly and routinely – is your best bet at achieving success in finding a home for your stories. Good luck, get to it, and take that leap into the pool. It’s not so cold. Stay in, don’t give up, and eventually it’ll pay off.


I hope you found this series useful. I look forward to reading your work online, on my eReader and/or in print!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

04 12 11 The Nuts ‘N Bolts of Story Submission. Part III : SET TO DO BATTLE

This is Part III of my four part series The Nuts 'N Bolts of Story Submission. This installment is called SET TO DO BATTLE.

In Part I, I discussed the reasons that you, the writer, should submit your work. In Part II, I talked about the importance of pre-preparation.

The current discussion has to do with deciding who you’re going to send your work to.

To do this there are three terms you need to know, which will be in each publication’s submission guidelines. The first is SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS: this means you can submit to other publications at the same time your work is being considered by the current magazine or journal you’ve sent it to.

The second is NO SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS means you can not submit until the work has been rejected by the current magazine or journal you’ve sent it to. Usually paying publications and the upper echelons have this policy.

The final one is MULTIPLE SUBMISSIONS means that you can submit more than one piece to the same publication at the same time.

As part of your battle plan you need to decide a few things – though they’re flexible decisions: HOW DO YOU WANT YOUR WORK TO APPEAR? Do you want your work to appear in print only? Online only? Or in both?

WHAT PAYSCALE ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? Do you want your work to appear in pay only publications? If so, do you want only pro rates, semi-pro rates, or are you okay with contributor copies (when in print) as payment? Are you okay with having your work appear without pay?

HOW DO YOU WANT TO SUBMIT? Electronically, snail mail, or both?

WHAT KIND OF PUBLICATIONS DO YOU WANT YOUR WORK TO APPEAR IN? Only the top selling Magazines and literary journals? Are university journals okay? How about local and regional publications, or fledgling publications, or anyone that will have you?

There’s a give and take with each decision. Realistically, with the prestigious and the top payers, the competition is going to be near impossible. You may be competing with Joyce Carol Oates, Alice Monroe and William Trevor. That’s not to say it’s a bad thing, it just something to think about. The other consideration, as I said earlier, is that most of the prestigious publications don’t allow simultaneous submissions. You have to wait until they reject (or accept) you before you can send it to someone else.

A good alternative may be to start with a few from the top ones and work your way down. The criteria I set for myself was that number one I wanted to be in print, for a couple of reasons: I just liked the idea of it, and more importantly I want to try and get my short stories published as a collection. I’m afraid if my stories are available online publishers won’t be interested in putting them out in print.

The second decision I made was I wanted to be able to simultaneously submit, I didn’t want to wait around for rejections. I also decided I liked the idea of Literary Journals and magazines. I had no problem with local and regional publications as long as they looked professional. Finally, I made the choice that I wanted to submit electronically – it’s quick and doesn’t cost a dime, which eases the pain if you’re rejected. It’s important to mention again that these choices are a rule of thumb. Don’t be afraid to vary or experiment. It’s a process meant to develop and mould over time.

Once you’ve decided on a basic game plan, IT’S TIME TO SUBMIT, which happens to be the title of my final install. It will appear here next Tuesday. I’ll point you towards what I consider to be the best submission sources and why I think so.

See you next week!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

04 05 11 The Nuts ‘N Bolts of Story Submission. Part II : PRE-PREPARATION – THE KEY TO SUBMITTING

This is part two of my four part series on The Nuts ‘N Bolts of Story Submission. I call my second installment PRE-PREPARATION – THE KEY TO SUBMITTING.

In a response to Part I, a reader mentioned that it can get expensive to submit because of reader’s fees. Good point! I don’t submit to contests or publications that charge a fee. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t if you feel strongly about the magazine or contest. It just means that there’s a route to go that doesn’t cost a dime.

Now, on to Part II : PRE-PREP – THE KEY TO SUBMITTING. I’ll go through how to line up your ducks in order to save time and effort in the long run.

With submitting, PRE-PREPERATION is the key. It’s a one time set-up, that takes a while but in the long run it’ll save you lots of time and increase your productivity.

The first thing is GO OVER YOUR WORK WITH A FINE TOOTH COMB. If you’re sure your piece is free of typos and grammar errors, check it again, and one more time after that. Nothing says amateur – and rejection – louder than sloppy work.

Next, save your story in multiple formats: save it as a word doc, an rtf file and a pdf. Also save them – in all formats – with your name on it and without any name on it. Depending on what each publication wants, you’ll already be prepared to send it.

DO A WORD COUNT of every one of your stories and post a paper of the results where you can see them (mine is taped above my computer screen.) Every publisher has word restrictions. It’s a guaranteed rejection if you submit a piece that doesn’t fit in their category. I always include word count in my submissions.

WRITE A COVER LETTER. I recommend one that isn’t frilly, “I enjoy Oreo’s with my cat, Fluffenuffer.” Save that for the ‘get to know the author’ page.
DON’T EXAGGERATE your credentials. It’s not necessary, and it’s pretty easy to spot the ‘enhancers.’
INCLUDE A BRIEF BIO, with writing credits if you have them. If not, it’s okay to say ‘I’m living in Miami, but originally from Kansas where most of my writing inspiration comes from.’ Keep the bio under seventy-five words. If you’re accepted they’ll probably want you to keep it anywhere from 30 to 50 words.
INCLUDE COMPLETE CONTACT INFO: name, address, email, phone. Do the cover letter in first and third person. Again – depending on the demands of each publication – you’ll already be prepared to cut and paste it into your submission.
MAKE IT APPEAR PERSONALIZED. I think editors look for “shotgunners” people who submit willy-nilly and it turns them off. Dear (fill in the publication’s name) Submission Editor, is fine.

The last thing in pre-preparation is to MAKE A DATA SHEET to record your transactions – including vital info such as DATE SUBMITTED, PUBLICATION, STORY SUBMISSION, CONTACTS, RESULTS, ETC. I use an excel sheet. At first I did it by hand originally, but it was too cumbersome.
A data sheet is important because the info it contains will prevent you from submitting the same stories to the same publications. It will let you know when you submitted to them so you don’t waste time submitting in the same time period – which most publications don’t allow.
A data sheet will let you know who you have to contact in the event that you get accepted and you’ve submitted the story to other publications. It’s your obligation to let the others know it was accepted so it can be withdrawn from their consideration.
It tells you who’s getting back to you in a timely manner and who isn’t – in other words their professionalism, which is their obligation. That way you can decide if you want to submit to them again.
And it gives you an idea of your progress, and may suggest which stories to go back and tweak. I’ve tweaked some after long spells of rejection, and to my surprise and joy, had a few of them accepted a short time later.

Whew! I know pre-prep is somewhat of a task, but when it’s over you’ll be glad you did it. In the long run the work you put into pre-preparation will be gained back over and over again in time and effort saved during the actual submitting.

With pre-prep over, you’re ready to step into the stadium. I call my next installment SET TO DO BATTLE. I discuss terms you need to be familiar with, and how to determine who to send your work to. See you next Tuesday. Keep the feedback coming!