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!