Hello, fellow pen dancers!
Let’s talk about the hardest part of writing. And no, it’s not giving a reading, like I said last week. Submitting your work is terrifying.
Putting your work out there to be judged and scrutinized seems to be the most nerve wracking part of the business of writing. I’ve been thinking a lot about this since I’ve been reading fiction submissions for the upcoming issue of Lunch Ticket. And since doing all this reading, I’ve come to realize that not everyone shares this fear.
Some people have no problem putting their work out there.
Isn’t he amazing? What makes him so brave? How come some people have no fear and others, like me, stay in the shadows?
I surveyed (read: messaged on the Facebook) some very successful writers for some tips and secrets to submitting your work and getting it published. What came back a lot was what Winston Churchill said about World War II:
Never, never, never give up.
He also said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” This seems to sum up trying to get published. However, there are some small tips that can help our efforts in getting published.
So, let’s keep going.
1. Follow directions.
No matter how confusing you think they are. Even if you think they are pointless or cannot understand why they would require you to send it in the way they want it, it will be the first one rejected. Read the submission requirements before submitting your work. And especially if you’re sending in money to a contest, it’s in your best interest to be thorough. Just before you hit that submit button, double-check again.
2. Do not get creative with your query or submission letters. No funny stuff!
Just say no to glitter pens or anything that might be “eye-catching.”
It won’t work.
They will laugh at you.
3. Be persistent in your submission numbers.
I have a friend that I know has submitted at least 25 times to one literary magazine, and was rejected every time. She does not let a rejection deter her, though. Just because you can’t use glitter pens does not mean you can’t be shameless when submitting. Just keep submitting. You never know, maybe the 26th thing you submit will be the golden egg. You never know unless you keep submitting.
5. Find magazines that publish work you like.
We’ve talked about this before, people: READ the magazines that you want to submit to. Even within my MFA community there is still an attitude that you don’t have to read all the magazines you submit to. Submittable has seen to it that submitting has become one of the easiest things you can do, even easier than spending an hour reading the magazine.
Another reason to read the magazines you want to submit to is so that you know the little things about the editors, like if they’re a boy or a girl and have preferences about the little things like being addressed by certain pronouns.
Don’t be a princess. Get your hands dirty, put your back into it.
6. No matter what, never, never, never give up.
Winston Churchill was a wise man. No matter what you do, just don’t give up. Have complete conviction in your work. No matter how many times you get rejected, just believe that there is someone out there who will understand your work if you are persistent enough to find them.
Caitlin was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She still lives there, and this makes her a rare unicorn in a sea of transplanted twenty-somethings who came to be artists and drink cheap beer. Also, she is now in her 30s and has moved on to Bourbon. She is a current MFA candidate in fiction at Antioch University LA. She has been published here and there with the last one being in Chiasmus Press’ Stories from the Edge: A Northwest Anthology.