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Industry Influencer: Submittable


If you submit regularly to literary journals, then you’ve probably run across Submittable, the online submission manager that allows writers to make, track, and manage submissions to participating publishers.

Today, Submittable CEO Michael A. Fitzgerald takes a moment out of his busy day to talk about how Submittable is changing writers’ lives. Check it out!

CONTEST: Leave a comment or question below by August 20, and you’ll be entered to win a Submittable T-shirt, a Submittable headband, and a copy of Michael’s first novel, Radiant Days! U.S. residents only.
How was the idea for Submittable born?

I wanted to start a company with my partners, Bruce and John. All three of us were developers.  But we also worked in the arts. (I’m a novelist. Bruce is a filmmaker. John is a musician.) We made a list of things we didn’t like. I didn’t like the existing processes for sending out work. We started there.

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As an entrepreneur, what’s the best advice you can offer writers about success?

Success is different for everyone. For me, it is, in some vaguely measurable way, improving on something. The only way I know how to do that is to practice the thing you want to get better at, continuously. So for writing—write when no one is asking you, when you don’t have any “good ideas,” when you’re certain you have no innate ability. Just keep doing it even when you’re certain you suck and it’s all a waste of time. Then one day, hopefully, you look up and you don’t suck as much. For me, that’s success…not sucking as much as the day before.

Once we started Submittable, I was pleasantly surprised to see how similar writing a novel was to starting a company. With both, you’re doing something no one asked you to do. And when you’re done, the first thing that becomes completely apparent is that no one cares that you’ve done it.

Writing books is a great foundation for starting companies.

We’ve talked before on our blog about administrative fees at literary journals. Care to weigh in?

Sure. I think it’s great for some journals and bad for others. As a writer, there are some editors who receive an unmanageable amount of submissions and whose time and expertise I value. In general, I think any stranger giving me their time has some value.

In general, I think the editorial skill set is wildly undervalued in a day when “creating content” (gag!) has become almost effortless.

Also, literary journals are almost always a labor of love. (I’ve seen arguments from some writers that editors are in this to make money. Pretty funny. No one goes into literary publishing to make money. If they do, they’re either very poor at math or grossly delusional.)

But some publishers get thousands of submissions per month. Giving each one just two to three minutes results in days and days of effort. Putting a small fee on the process creates tension. We’ve noticed that the publishers who do this tend to get higher quality submissions because people think a little harder before hitting “Send”; but also those publishers are logged in more because they’re not as overwhelmed.

Ask yourself a question here, if you’d like! Feel free to talk about your own writing or other creative pursuits outside of Submittable. Our readers would love to know more about you.

Ha! There’s really not much here. I’m a writer and software developer. I live in Missoula, Montana, with my wife and two sons (ages eight and eleven). I’ve got two great business partners: John and Bruce. Sometimes things are amazing; sometimes they’re a pain in the ass.

What’s on tap for the future of Submittable? What can writers look forward to?

Submishmash.com! It’s not live yet, but it’ll be an intergalactic creative content (writing, video, audio, and beyond) marketplace. Stay tuned. It’s easily the most ambitious and cool thing my friends and I have ever built.

CONTEST: Leave a comment or question below by August 13, and you’ll be entered to win a Submittable T-shirt, a Submittable headband, and a copy of Michael’s first novel, Radiant Days! U.S. residents only.


8 Responses to Industry Influencer: Submittable

  1. Thank you Michael Fitzergald for creating Submmittable, and being the source of my inspiration. I agree, writing a novel is a lot like starting a company.

  2. I like Submittable for the ease of submitting and tracking my work at a variety of publications. While you are in a creative mode, would you consider working on a similar tool that writers/artists could use to market chapbooks, books, or other works of art. I’m a late bloomer at the writing game. I have a chapbook that will be published this fall. I want to help publicize the chapbook but have little experience in that venue. I also know there isn’t much of a market for chapbooks. Any ideas along those lines? Thanks

  3. This sounds like an amazing tool! I’d love to look into it a bit deeper, see if there’s some way to use this. As an up-and-coming author, I haven’t submitted very much, mostly out of fear of losing what I’ve submitted, but this seems like it would make it a lot easier!

  4. I’ve been using Submittable only for about a year, as someone who’s a bit newer to the literary magazine world. My favorite feature is the ability to check it and see when I submitted what, and what was accepted versus what was rejected. It’s great as a writer to be able to see my own successes and how they’ve shifted with time.

  5. Submittable is such a great tool that saves me and no doubt the various literary journals an incredible amount of time. Great tool!
    As for a comment how about working out a numbering system (0 = poor to 10 = exceptional) for aspiring writers (people like me) on various attributes pertaining to becoming a professional writer. All criticism is by its nature is arbitrary so a numeric rating is better than a polite rejection response. An busy editor could quickly rate a rejected piece on different topics. Topics could include Professionalism, following instruction, content, grammar, spelling, and a host of other criteria editors use to judge the piece they’ve just read.

  6. I love Submittable. Anything online that enables one to keep all their submissions in one site is invaluable, not only to the editors, but the writers. I presently have something on there now. If I want to know the status, I go into one site and I’m done.

    With my schedule right now: self-editing my first suspense novel; sending out short stories; and in college for the fourth time over the years–this time for a BS in Criminal Justice; time is everything. Thank you so much for creating Submittable. I even hesitate to enter my work if the publication doesn’t use it. Looking forward to Submishmash also. Thanks again, Gippy Henry

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