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Friday, September 2, 2016

How to Submit Your Writing Like a Boss

In Wednesday’s post I talk a little bit about not keeping your writing hidden. But how should a writer go about sharing their work with the world. Easy. By submitting them.
Whether it's poetry, flash fiction, short story or a novella. There’s a publisher/editor waiting to add it to their publication. But how to find them?
Well, there’s several ways to do that. Writer’s Digest has a listing of publishers, editors, agents, contests, etc to submit your writing. It’s called the Writer’s Market and has many editions based on genre and subject. It’s printed annually. And updated with information on editors. It also sample query letters, indexes showing if a market pays or not. And whether they accept new and emerging writers.
Can’t afford to buy the book every year? Here are a few free resources found online:
  • Aerogamme Writer’s Studio publishes news and resources of upcoming open submissions.
  • Poets & Writers has a literary and magazine database. All you have to do is sign up and search by genre and subgenre.
  • NewPages Classified is a recent find. They have a call for submissions list for writing, art, and photography from magazines, publishers, writing conferences, and more. You can delve deeper by searching by genre and type.
  • Published to Death is another recent find. They’re a great resource in finding publications that pay. As well as accept reprints, free contests, accept unagented manuscripts, etc.
  • Blogger Rachel Poli blogs monthly updates of publications accepting submissions on her blog.
  • Another resource is joining a social media group.  Members post and share information on upcoming submissions with each other. I've joined Calls for Submissions and Creative and Professional Writing Information Exchange on Facebook. And I'm a member of the Writing Resources community on Google+.
Now that you have at your fingertips a plethora of places to submit to what comes next is keeping track of them all. Most publications only accept digital submissions and use Submittable. Another submission manager is Duotrope but I use the former. Others have their own online submission manager like Agni.  Duotrope is a subscription-based submission manager. Like Submittable they track your submissions and it has a searchable market database too.
I take another step further and track my submissions in an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet shows me the name of the press/journal/magazine I’ve submitted to. The number of times I’ve submitted to them, the submission period and deadline. The pieces I submitted to them. And the genre and the date I sent it. It’s normal to wait 2-4 months before you hear back from a publication. If the allotted time has passed, then I'd contact them to inquire about the status of my piece(s).
Lastly I note whether it was declined and if any feedback was given about the piece. Which also determines if I’ll submit to them again in the future. Especially, if they used words like:
  • although we enjoyed it, the poems weren't quite right for the us/issue/magazine
  • made to last round of consideration
  • received careful consideration
  • welcome to submit again
And if the piece(s) were accepted I review the spreadsheet to find other submissions. Then contact the editors with a short and cordial explanation to why I'm withdrawing it. It's a rule of submission etiquette to do so just like following the submission guidelines.
The submission process is both a long road and a two way street. Just as you're looking for places to send your work. Publishers and editors are searching for writers to feature in their publications.  So do not take it to heart when your work was not accepted. It doesn't mean your writing sucked. But that it wasn't the right fit for them or that particular issue.  Yet, what wasn't right for them might be a better fit somewhere else. So don’t give up hope and keep submitting.
What resources do you use to find contests, anthologies, magazines, etc. to submit? Do you use Submittable, Duotrope or another submission tracker?


Janie Junebug said...

Thanks for the list of resources. I love your spreadsheet idea. I don't submit often enough these days to bother with it, but it's perfect for writers who submit regularly.


Chrys Fey said...

I could've used this post when I was just starting out and struggling to find places to submit to. But instead of buying "Writers Market," I check it out at my local library and make a list of places. :)

Lidy said...

@Janie you're welcome. I'm a visual person so the spreadsheet helps me to track my submission history. And in turn helps with the decision making promise of which market to submit to in the future.

@Chrys Me too. Learned the hard way I could've checked out the books from the library. The Writers Market books can get expensive.

Liz A. said...

I had never heard of Submittable or any of those others. (Of course, I haven't submitted anything in years.)

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Michele Tracy Berger said...

Great post, Lidy,
I track my submissions but I don't use Excel, I just have a word document and update it often with similar kind of info that you highlight. I have just found Submission Grinder and I think that's going to be very helpful.

Unknown said...

To be honest, I don't do much of that and I should. I always run out of energy and time before I run out of things that need doing.

HRBennett87 said...

Ooo~ I actually haven't heard of any of these sites before. Thank you!

Lidy said...

@Liz I stumbled on Submittable a few years ago and immediately signed up. Although I haven't been using it lately.

@Michele Thank you. It's my first time I've heard of Submission Grinder. Will have to check it out.

@Kathleen I understand. The day has 24 hours and you'd think you'll have the time. But then before I know it, I'm always shocked to where the time has gone.

@Robert You're welcome. Hope the sites I listed will be of great use to you.

Darla M Sands said...

This is great! Thank you for your thoughtfulness.

Lidy said...

@Darla You're welcome. :-D

LD Masterson said...

Good advice. I use a couple Excel spreadsheets. One is an ever evolving list of agents where I track book cold query submissions and the other is for short pieces, anthologies, magazines, etc. I've bookmarked this post so I can go back and follow those links.

Lidy said...

@LD You're welcome. I've started building a list with Excel of agents for future book query submissions as well.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm disheartened when I meet writers who tell me they don't submit their work or even tell their friends and family that they write. How can we grow if we don't put ourselves out there? I will refer the next writer I meet who doesn't submit to this post.

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Lidy said...

@Theresa Thank you and I hope that the next writer(s) will no longer be afraid to take the plunge to tell family and friends that they write. And to submit their work.

SHON said...

Very informative. Thank you!