If you want to develop a regular submission strategy to keep your writing circulating (and published), you’ve got options. Resources and companies are available to you, but some of them are better than others. When deciding how to submit your work to literary journals or to agents, it’s important to have a solid grasp of two key factors:
1. Know the lay of the land. Before you trust anyone else to make your submissions for you or before you start making them yourself, it’s a good idea to know how the industry works. This way, you’ll be more likely to pick up on anything that doesn’t seem like a good practice (for example, sending an agent more than one book proposal at once is generally a no-no). You can get your bearings using our Free Publishing Tool Kit.
2. Know your goals. What’s behind your desire to make submissions? Do you want to get your name out there by publishing in lit mags? Do you hope to connect with a literary agent who can represent your book? When you have a clear goal, you’re more likely to attain it.
Pop Quiz! How To Find The Best Submission Help
Every writer is unique, and that means every writer has unique needs. When deciding if you want outside help in developing a submission strategy, ask yourself these questions.
How much help with submissions do you want? Some writers just want “names,” a list of markets that will review their work; they’ll do the rest. Other writers want Full Service attention, so that they don’t have to worry about any small part of their submission strategy. Choosing this route will maximize your time to write.
Write down your “best case scenario” wish list for getting help with your submissions. What do you want someone else to do for you? Write your query letter? Track editors’ responses to your poems? Etc.
Do you need real-life support? If you know you’re going to have questions about submission issues (like what you should do if a literary agent wants an exclusive, or what you should do if a literary journal doesn’t offer a written contract for publication), then you’ll need a plan.
If you’re making submissions on your own, you’ll need to have a reliable, tried-and-true support system of people you trust who are highly educated about the publishing industry and can advise you when questions arise.
If you’re going to work with a submission service like Writer’s Relief, confirm that you’ll have a knowledgeable professional on your team to help you get over the inevitable bumps on the road to publishing. At Writer’s Relief, each of our clients is placed with an experienced submission strategy team.
BONUS: Having a support system can help keep your submissions on track, but it can also help keep your writing on track. At Writer’s Relief, we truly encourage our clients to write and submit regularly via emails, personal phone calls, and more.
One way or another, what will you “pay” to get what you want? No submission service is free (not even if you do it yourself). If you want someone to prepare your submissions or simply to research them and give you names, then you’ll need to budget for the many hours a company will need to spend on these tasks.
If you go it alone, you’ll have to “pay yourself” with your time spent researching (which means you’ll not only have to find markets that work for you, but you’ll need to eliminate hundreds of thousands that don’t).
Whether you pay a company to manage your submissions or whether you “pay” yourself to do it by putting in your own hours, the process can be intense.
Here are a few of the options available to you if you’re looking for third-party assistance making submissions.
Hire a submission service. If you’re going to hire a company like Writer’s Relief to help you, ask questions. Be sure you understand what you’re getting into. And be wary of promises to make all your dreams come true or requirements involving contracts that lock you in. Here are a few sample questions to ask:
- How do you research markets? Is research personalized?
- How many clients do you have? Any credible writers?
- What are your rates? Do you take commission?
- Who will be my contact at the company?
- Is any writer accepted or are there standards? What genres do you work with?
Hire a personal assistant. We consider ourselves a team of personal assistants who have specialized knowledge about the publishing industry and work offsite (not in our clients’ homes). You can hire a personal secretary to help you, but make sure it is someone with publishing experience.
Otherwise, you could waste as much time teaching someone to make your submissions as if you did them yourself. Also, keep in mind that expertise matters when tough questions arise, and you may need to turn to professionals for answers.
Use database websites and market books. Some websites and market books purport to do the hard work of researching submission guidelines for you. But beware! These sources are often unreliable and out of date. They work best as a starting point, not a final answer.
After you’ve found a market you’re interested in (and a hundred you’re not), you’ll need to go directly to the source to follow submission guidelines. This will eat up time, but could save your work from an outright rejection if you’ve made errors in your submissions.
The Bottom Line About Submission Services
Getting help making your submissions can be a smart choice that moves you closer to your goals as a writer. The more help you can get, the more time you’ll have to write. We hope you’ll check out Writer’s Relief (or at least take advantage of all our freebies!).