Tag Archives: cover letters

6 Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Submit Your Short Story or Poetry

You wrote a great story/poem and now you’re all ready to submit it for consideration in your favorite journal. Before you click send, make sure that your submission doesn’t have any of these six common red flags by asking yourself:

1. Did you format your submission appropriately? Here are the guidelines for poems and here are the guidelines for short fiction. Note that some journals may have their own formatting guidelines, which you should always follow. However, you should default to these guidelines unless a journal explicitly notes otherwise.

2, Did you proofread your submission? Spelling and grammatical errors are a huge turn-off to editors. Run a spelling and grammar check on your word processing software, proofread your writing yourself, and have a friend look over your work before you click send.

3. Are you sure the journal is an appropriate fit? It may be your favorite journal, but do they publish the same kind of work that you wrote? Does your style fit with the magazine? Does your content? Your genre? Most journals have very narrow parameters of what kind of work they publish. You can find out through reading a few issues if your work is an appropriate fit for publication in the magazine.

4. Did you find out the editor/publisher’s name? Make sure that you browse the publication to find out who is likely going to be reading your work and making the final decision. If you place the wrong name, or no name at all, it will give the impression that you are not a regular reader and/or do not think the editor/publisher is worth your time.

5. Have you read the magazine? Editors can tell when writers send a submission without reading the magazine first. These result in rejections. Familiarize yourself with the work published in the magazine.

6. Did you compose a cover letter that can win an editor over? Is your cover letter professional, or is it a hard sell? Is your cover letter professional, or are you begging for publication? Is your cover letter professional, or is it a form letter?  We’ve all heard of writers and their antics, but if you are an aspiring writer, edgy as your work may be, a cover letter is not the time to show anything less than your professional side.

Should you need any help with publication of your short fiction, poetry, or novel, please click here for personalized help with the submission process.

The Importance of Professionalism for Authors

We can all recite a long list of names of famous authors who are almost as famous for the way they comport themselves as for their writing. Please don’t attempt to mimic their antagonistic behavior. If you do not have name recognition in the popular imagination (i.e. Your books aren’t being sold at bookstores), you must hold your pride at bay, and conduct yourself like a person, not a walking spectacle.

The following are common errors related to professionalism that novice writers often make. These mistakes must be avoided at all costs:

1. Don’t rush the writing process along. Plot out your story. Fix the errors. Make sure the prose is sharp. Your first draft is just that – don’t send it out immediately to publishers. Spend some time ensuring that your work is as tight as it can possibly be before submitting it.

2. Pay attention to submission guidelines. There’s nothing less professional than not following submission guidelines. Doing so will almost undoubtedly lead to a rejection, and worse than that, it will color you as a careless writer in some rather influential people’s minds.

3. Write an appropriate cover/query letter. Think of this like a job hunt. Don’t be the person sending 100 resumes a day with the same generic cover letter. This is insulting to editors and publishers. Show that you are actually familiar with the work they publish, and that your writing would be a beneficial addition to the press or magazine. Do your best to find out the name of the person that you are addressing.

4. On that same note, make sure that your work is an appropriate match for the content of the journal or publisher. Don’t send a genre piece to a literary magazine. Don’t send a noir manuscript to Harlequin. Do your homework.

5. Don’t be goofy or edgy in your communication. Your work may be satirical or hardboiled, but your approach to publishers and other power players must be professional. You’re a writer – you’re not a clown or sociopath.

6. Never respond to a rejection (unless there’s a clear lead in to do so from the editor, which is extremely unlikely). Just don’t. Certainly don’t respond to any rejection with inflammatory remarks. The literary world is small. You want your name to be talked about, but certainly not for this reason.

7. Respond to acceptances from literary journals. Thank the editor for selecting your work. Be humble and gracious.

8. Get involved beyond your writing. Offer to volunteer as a reader for a literary journal. Start your own literary magazine. If you have the money to do so, pursue an MFA to show your dedication, network, and learn from masterful authors.

The takeaway: Never underestimate the importance of professionalism for authors. Conduct yourself in your literary career in the same fashion as you would in any other professional sphere.

To simplify the process of getting published, please click here.