Here Are Some Helpful Tips for Submitting Your Work for Publication
This document was created based on years of advice from writing professors, as well as resources like these from Writer’s Digest and Ignited Ink–check them out for more great information and tips!
Getting your work published can be one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of writing, though it’s not without its challenges. Whether you’re submitting a piece you’ve already written or looking for prompts from publishers for inspiration, here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare to send your work out into the world.
1. Do your research
Get familiar with any journals you’re thinking about submitting to. Read up on the work they usually publish to see whether your piece fits with their regular content. A short suspense story will have a better chance of getting accepted at a thriller or true crime publication than one that usually publishes romance. Issues may also revolve around a certain theme—like current events or seasonal topics—so keep that in mind when you’re sizing up your own piece as well.
Great places to start this research include the massive list on Poets & Writers, Sonia Weiser’s “Opportunities of the Week” newsletter, our own in-house resource sheet[link to that page here], or even following your favorite writers and publishers on Twitter.
2. Consider submission periods and contests
Many publications cycle through submission periods—this means they may read and accept fiction pieces from June to August, poetry from September to December, and so forth. Paying attention to these periods will ensure that your work actually gets read when you send it in!
Additionally, contests can be a fun opportunity to submit your work and possibly receive some cash as a prize. Many publications have all sorts of contests that run throughout the year. Keep in mind, too, that both general submissions and contests may come with submission fees. Sometimes that fee may pay off and sometimes it won’t, so weigh your options.
3. Find the right editor
We could spend a lot of time talking about query letters alone, which are like cover letters that accompany your submissions (here’s a resource briefly). But one of the most important parts, similar to #1, is to find the editor that’s the right match for your genre. Staff should be listed on the publication’s website, so find the person most likely to read your piece and address your letter directly to them. This will show that you’ve done your homework and adds a necessary personal touch.
4. Cast a wide net, but keep an eye on it
Like any application, submitting your work to a handful of publications at once will increase your odds of getting accepted. However, it’s important to keep track of them! The practice of casting this wide net is called simultaneous submission. Most publications accept it, but it is ethical to withdraw your submission from everywhere else once it’s accepted in one place. Since the publication that accepts you usually receives the rights to publish your piece, it’s not the best move to try to get it published somewhere else as well.
5. Celebrate rejections
The tough-love truth is that it’s not easy to get published. There are lots of variables that affect acceptance—many incredible writers have had to wait a long time to get published, and many have never been published at all. It’s important to stay motivated and to understand that rejection isn’t a reflection of your work. In fact, it’s something to be celebrated—getting rejected means you’re putting yourself out there! What’s more, receiving an actual rejection letter means they took the time to write back to you, which isn’t common. Sometimes you’ll even receive helpful feedback on your writing as well. If they ask you to submit again in the future, don’t assume they don’t mean it—they do. Stay motivated and keep writing!