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Using an online submission form (or submission manager) can be a very effective way to submit your short stories, personal essays, and poetry to literary journals and magazines. Although most literary agencies are not currently using submission managers, some do require writers to fill out online forms. Submitting online saves postage and time, and it’s easier to track your electronic submissions (e-subs) than traditional print submissions. At Writer’s Relief we’ve learned a few tricks over the years, and we’re happy to pass along these tips for making effective electronic submissions.
(Hint: Watch our video that demonstrates how to use an online submission manager!)
Tips for Making Electronic Submissions to Literary Journals and Magazines:
1. Keep track of which journals and editors you submitted to, the submission method that was used, and your user name/email address and password. Save this information where you can get to it easily. (Or become a client and we’ll track your submissions for you!)
2. Use the same password each time so you don’t have too many to remember.
3. Create a new email address to use just for your e-subs, or create folders in your email account to manage your acceptances and rejections.
4. Make sure you read each literary journal’s submission guidelines carefully! For example, some literary journals won’t take work if your name appears on it.
5. Make sure your information is up to date. Literary journals are picky about their online forms and submission managers, and they are likely to change their preferences from time to time. (This could be the case if you find their usual submission link fails to load.)
6. Submit to a group of journals that use SubmishMash (a special online form), because if you create an account with one journal that uses it, you can use the same account for every journal that uses it. You’ll also remain logged in to your account if you have cookies enabled on your computer.
7. Have your cover letter or professional writing bio ready, because you’ll be copying and pasting it into each submission. And remove any references to enclosures. You won’t be including an SASE with an electronic submission—the editor is not going to return your work because you’re not mailing him or her anything!
8. If submitting a group of poems, keep a list of all the titles handy; you can copy and paste that into the forms and submission managers. Also, combine all of your poems into one file (copy and paste them) because submission managers only allow one file to be attached.
9. If you goofed on your submission and were using an online form or submission manager, odds are you can log in to your account, withdraw your submission, and resend it. If the “oops” in question was an email submission, you can try resending, but this might annoy editors who don’t want duplicate emails. Hooray for submission managers!
10. Double-check your email addresses and URLs. The easiest e-sub mistake to make is a typo in the email address (or URL). Read more: Online Writing Submissions: Mistakes Writers Make Submitting To Literary Agents And Editors.
11. Keep a master electronic file of your work and don’t save any changes to it. If you need to tailor your work to a specific journal (i.e., no name on work, single-spaced, no headers or footers, etc.) always save it as a new document. This will save you a lot of time when you want to submit to another journal.
12. Don’t save over the master version of your cover letter either. (See Tip #11.)
13. You will most likely get an automatic response from an editor stating that they have received your work. Note: This is NOT a rejection, so don’t treat it as such. Carefully read your responses to avoid confusion. If the journal emailed you your account information, save this in a designated email folder.
14. Some journals require payment just for sending an electronic submission. We don’t necessarily discourage you from sending to those journals (especially if you’re submitting to a writing contest); just make sure you include payment when they ask for it.
15. Make sure the literary journal is actually accepting the genre of work you are submitting. Sometimes a literary magazine can be closed for poetry but will still accept short stories. The website should inform you of this, as well as other important information like reading dates. Learn more: Researching Literary Journals for Your Writing.
If you’re having any trouble submitting your creative writing online, see our video tutorial to help you navigate submission managers. And remember—Writer’s Relief relieves writers of the tedious tasks involved with making submissions. Let us know if we can help you too.