Submitting to Journals

Lyndon Seitzby Lyndon Seitz
Eastern Student Representative, 2013-2014
Westfield State University, Westfield, MA

This is the second of a two-part post. Part one focused on how to find a journal to which to submit.

Once you have found a journal to which you want to submit, you may wonder what to do next. Here are a few tips that will help you submit your work properly and avoid any problems:

  • Remember to read and follow the guidelines carefully. Policies vary from journal to journal and what is right for one journal could get you disqualified from another. Make sure file names, file types, and email subject lines are all formatted exactly as instructed.
  • A number of journals (including Sigma Tau Delta’s Rectangle and Review) use online submissions instead of asking for submissions by email. Some use their own custom websites, others use sites such as Submittable. Online submissions may seem daunting at first but I’ve generally found they are easier than email submissions.
  • Cover letters are in many cases the first thing the editor reads. You will want to leave a good first impression. I like this simple guide that I found. In many cases, the worst thing you can do is overthink it.
  • It might be a good idea to create a modifiable cover letter template if you are sending out a lot of submissions. If you do, carefully review each letter to make sure everything is appropriately modified for the intended recipient.
  • Double check everything. If you have a difficult time proofreading your own work  (as I do), take even a quick break and come back to it. It will still be there for you when you return.
  • Try not to submit at the very last minute. You do not want to rush yourself.
  • A short bio is usually required at some point in the submissions process, and it can be a little tricky. Luckily, you have a massive wealth of examples waiting for you in all the bios that have been published before you. Use them as a guide and don’t be discouraged by the publishing credits you see in them. Every writer has to start somewhere.
  • Simultaneous submissions are when you submit a piece to more than one place at a time. Some places allow them, others do not. If you do simultaneous submissions, you absolutely must let the other places where you submitted know if your poem has been accepted elsewhere.
  • You are going to want to have some way to keep track of your submissions. When you get to the point where you have a dozen poems or stories out at once, you will find that you simply cannot do it in your head anymore. I recommend keeping an Excel chart with different columns based on your needs.

You may not get accepted the first time. Don’t let this discourage you. The acceptance rate of most journals is very low–often less than five percent. If your work isn’t accepted it doesn’t mean it is bad so much as that it doesn’t fit what the editors are looking for. Try again in a different journal, perhaps after some revision. Persistence pays off.

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