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Guest Post: On Submitting Well by Jeanne Lyet Gassman

At writing conferences, I have heard about the friendly world of bloggers, especially those who blog about books and writing. In the past few weeks, I have been spending a lot of time on Twitter, getting to know other writers and their blogs. That’s how I met Jeanne Lyet Gassman. When I read her blog on submissions, I knew I needed her to guest post on my blog. I sent her a message on Twitter, and she was gracious enough to agree! The following post will help you submit more successfully! Enjoy!

On my own blog, Jeanne’s Writing Desk, I regularly post announcements about writing contests, calls for submission, grants and fellowships, and other writing opportunities. If you are submitting your work to literary magazines or contests, there are several easy tips that can improve your chances of success.

Follow the Guidelines. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how many writers ignore this rule. When I worked as a slush fiction reader for a literary magazine, I was astonished by the number of submissions that did not meet our magazine’s guidelines. We received stories that were well beyond the maximum word count; children’s picture books (clearly not for our market); and once, I read a submission written entirely in a ghastly script font that was indecipherable. Every one of the submissions received an automatic rejection.

Do Your Homework. Clearly, literary magazines would love for you to purchase a copy of their publication, but that may not be feasible or practical. However, the Internet is an amazing tool. If the magazine has an online presence, you may be able to read excerpts from the archives or entire back issues. Two other good resources are also Arts & Letters Daily, which posts links to articles from hundreds of magazines (mostly nonfiction) and New Pages, which reviews hundreds of literary magazines that publish fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry.

Screen Your Markets and Contests. Just as the Internet is a great resource for the writer, it is also not a place for the unwary. Scams and con games for writers abound, especially in the arena of writing competitions. How can you protect yourself? Search for writing markets and contests from trusted sources, places that vet their listings. For example, Poets & Writers screens all markets and contests they post. I have included several other trustworthy market resources at the bottom of this post.

Keep Good Records. Know where you are sending your work, when you sent it, and what the current status is. Over the years, I’ve developed three writing logs; all of these can easily be created in an MS Excel spreadsheet. My first log is an Income/Expense log, which keeps a running tab of all writing-related expenses and income. I record the date of the transaction, the source of the transaction, and the expense or income from that transaction. If you are making money from your writing, you will want to report both your income and your expenses. My second log is a Submission Log. I create a separate Submission Log for each piece I am submitting, and I record the dates of submission, the market or contest, the costs of submitting, and the acceptance or rejection. My final log is something I call a Response Log, a record for each market I submit to. I update contact information; the works I’ve submitted to this magazine; and any personal/encouraging rejections, comments, or acceptances. This helps me create my own personal profile of that market.

Markets for your writing:

Writing to Heal (creative nonfiction/personal essays only)

Duotrope (fiction, poetry)

Poets & Writers (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction)

Ralan (primarily science fiction/fantasy)

Creative Writers Opportunities List (all genres)

Jeanne’s Writing Desk (all genres)

May all of your submissions turn into publications!

My special thanks to Rochelle, who asked me to guest post about submissions on her blog. —Jeanne




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