by Matthew X. Gomez
The submission process can be a daunting one, even for veteran writers. You’ve poured your blood, sweat and tears into a piece, and now you are sending it out into the great wide world. It doesn’t matter if it’s a poem to an online journal, a non-fiction piece, a short story, or a manuscript submission to an agent; you are opening your writing up to a larger world, and what’s worse, rejection.
There are a few things you can do to make the process easier, however:
- Put your best work forward. It should be clear of grammatical errors, revised, and sent through a gauntlet of beta readers.
- Research where or who you are submitting too. In this day and age, nothing is secret. A quick Google search of the publisher or agent can help reveal if they are reputable and are the kind of place you want to submit to.
- Read guidelines. Agents, publishers, magazines and journals tend to tell you what they are looking for. Don’t waste your time (and theirs) by submitting material they aren’t interested in. Pay attention to things like word count, genre, whether they take multiple submissions, and whether they take simultaneous submissions (i.e. you can submit a piece to them that is still under consideration somewhere else). Also, different publishers prefer different formats. Hint: Learn how to format in standard manuscript format.
- Pay attention to response times. Most reputable places will tell you when you can expect an answer. Don’t follow-up with them until that time has passed.
- It’s going to take a while to hear back. Following up from the last piece, you aren’t going to be hearing back right away from most places. It takes time for people to read, to consider, and to decide. Sending daily emails with “Did you read it yet?” is a good way for your submission to make it into the round file next to their desk.
- Remember, money should flow TO the writer, never away. You are best avoiding publishers and agents who want to charge you a reading or submission fee. They are scams, bad at their jobs, or both.
Here are a number of useful links for writers looking to submit, but are cautious about putting themselves out there or don’t know where to start:
- Writer’s Beware (SFWA’s ongoing blog about what sites, agents, and publishers to avoid and why)
- Query Shark (how to write a better query)
- Agent Query (looking for an agent? There are worse places to look than here)
- Ralan.com (a fantastic, free, up-to-date resource for speculative fiction writers)
- Writer’s Market (not free, but even more extensive than Ralan).
Have any submission tips? Share them below!