Sometimes, what holds you back from publishing success isn’t the quality of your writing; it’s having a weak submission strategy. If you haven’t had an acceptance in a while (or ever!), it might be time to take a look at your submission strategy to see where you can make it stronger. The Writer’s Relief team of experienced submission strategists has put together some tips that will give you the best chance at publishing success!
Get used to rejection!
You’ll need to develop a thick skin in the publishing industry. Too often, writers give up on submitting their work because they’ve received so many rejections. It can be easy to feel disheartened after being told “no thanks” again and again. But don’t take rejection personally; it’s a healthy part of a writer’s life—and rejection letters can actually be a sign that you’re heading in the right direction. After all, you’re persevering. You’re getting your work seen by people who matter. That counts for a lot! Keep your submission strategy strong by thinking of those rejections as badges of honor.
Keep a schedule for submissions and, most importantly, make sure you follow it. Having a schedule will allow you to focus your efforts and pace yourself—instead of getting burned out due to sporadic and stressful scrambles to send your work out there. Sticking to the plan will also ensure that you send out better submissions, because you won’t make sloppy, rushed mistakes! And remember: Making submissions is a numbers game. A good rule of thumb is to try to send a piece to around 100 markets. That may seem like a lot, but if you break it down to manageable chunks, you’ll be finished in no time.
Don’t forgo journals like Prairie Schooner and Ploughshares just because you don’t think you have a chance. You definitely won’t be accepted if you don’t submit! So forge ahead and submit to the “big name” journals and magazines. However, don’t limit yourself to the top-tier publications. There are hundreds of exciting literary journals that are worth your attention—we know because we keep close tabs on them all and help our clients submit! Even if you’ve never heard of “such-and-such” magazine, you’ve probably heard of the Pushcart Prize or Best of the Net awards, and the mid-tier magazines regularly nominate writers who win!
Are you finding you’re submitting over and over to the same journals? Your submissions might be well-targeted, but the best way to be a widely published author is to submit widely. Keep a lookout for other journals that suit your work. If a journal you submit to has a Facebook page, you can check to see what journals they “Like.” They might have similar interests!
Then, research, research, research! The best way to strengthen your submission strategy is to make sure you know everything there is to know about the literary journals. We know you’re busy with family, work, and other responsibilities, but the only way to have a stronger, more effective submission strategy is to spend the extra time it takes to research the best literary agents or literary magazines for your writing. Or, another option is to hire a team of experts like those here at Writer’s Relief to do the research for you.
Proofreading and formatting aren’t the most fun parts of preparing your submissions, but failure to take the task seriously can result in immediate rejection. Literary agents and editors will forgive one or two spelling and grammar mistakes, but more than a couple is a sign that your work isn’t ready for submission. Proofread your work diligently, or pay for a professional proofreader to do it. And make sure you format your documents properly so they look clean and ready for publication. Remember, first impressions are important!
Our Review Board regularly receives submissions from writers who hope to join our exclusive client list. And one thing that raises a big red flag about a prospective client, is the failure to follow submission guidelines. So if a journal asks for five poems, don’t send them more, thinking there’s a chance they’ll like the sixth or seventh one. There’s a better chance that they’ll throw out your entire submission unread.
Writer’s Relief is an author’s submission service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994. Their work is highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!