Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Submitting Work

Today I want to bring up the subject of submitting work, be it short stories, novels, articles, or whatever. The most important thing is to appear as professional as possible. Read the guidelines. I can't state that clearly enough. Make sure you read those guidelines until you understand exactly what that publisher or agent wants. If you send something in that is contrary to their guidelines, guess what? Your work isn't even looked at. Maybe it's a perfect fit, but if you can't be bothered to send it how the publisher or agent wants it, it gets no chance.

In the guidelines, an important thing to look for is how the publisher/agent wants the submission. Do they want it sent in standard manuscript format? Do they only want a query letter? Do they only accept work through the standard mail, or do they want it via email? If they want it via email, do they want an attachment, or do they want it all in the body of the email? If you can't follow these instructions, you have little to no chance of even getting your work read, so make that first good, professional impression.

Also make sure you're targeting the correct market. A title of a magazine, for instance, might look like the perfect fit for your article, but in reality it might be about something else altogether. I'm not one that believes you absolutely have to read a magazine you are submitting to (though it can't hurt), but you have to at least know what the content of that magazine is (or what types of books a publisher publishes, or what types of work an agent represents, etc.). Read the entire guidelines; go to the Internet site; go to the library and leaf through the magazine or a book by the publisher (and read at least a bit of it if you've gone to that length). Don't show how unprofessional you are by sending a chilling horror story to a happy romance magazine. Do your homework.

One final thing I want to mention is to keep a log of where each of your stories/articles/novels have been sent. Sometimes it takes dozens of different tries to place your work, and it can go on for years. Don't forget that you've already sent a story to one place and send it back there. Just take a minute each time you send a story out to record where it's going. And when it comes back rejected, send it right back out to the next place. That's all for this week. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing!