Updated October 2023
Welcome to PART TWO of our series about how to make resubmissions. Today’s post is about how to resubmit your creative writing to an editor at a literary journal. If you’re writing and submitting short stories, poems, or creative nonfiction (personal essays), this post will teach you the right way to resubmit.
If you missed PART ONE, view it here: How to Resubmit to a Literary Agent.
Otherwise, read on for our great tips about resubmitting!
Why You Should Consider Resubmitting Your Work
There are circumstances that may make it worth your while to resubmit a piece to a literary magazine.
For example: Say you decide to revise a piece that you submitted awhile ago but did not get published. You’re sure that you’re a better writer now and that the piece may get some traction because of your revisions. It’s time to resubmit!
Or, say you want to submit a short prose piece or group of poems that you’d sent out a few years ago. You received some glowing rejection letters, but no takers. Since that time, the market has become more favorable to your particular style. You wonder: It’s time to give it another try!
Often, the masthead at many literary magazines will change regularly. So the editor who rejected your work two years ago may no longer work at that magazine. Although resending a story or poem counts as a resubmission, your work will likely be considered with fresh eyes if some time has passed. The magazine may have decided to go a new direction or to pursue a theme that is more closely related to your work.
Also, if your story was rejected with an encouraging note (such as, “we liked your piece but do not have room for it right now”), then you may do well to resubmit. The editor may be interested in publishing your work now that some time has passed and more space is available.
Sometimes, when editors at literary journals do NOT rotate regularly, you still may be in a good position to resubmit. However, sending the exact same work to the exact same editor may not give you the best shot at getting an acceptance letter—especially if you’re resubmitting overly soon.
If your work has been roundly rejected—revise it! Go the extra mile, dig deep, and make your work truly better. That way, you’ll have the best shot at getting an acceptance for your resubmission.
If An Editor Invites You To Resubmit Or Requests (Or Suggests) Changes
If you get feedback from an editor, we recommend you proceed with caution. If you are willing to make changes to it based on a single editor’s feedback, make the suggested modifications and send your work back to the editor who requested them.
But we don’t recommend that you start resubmitting your work every time you make a change. That would drive editors crazy and would no doubt earn you a bad reputation in the close-knit writing community.
Keep in mind that one editor may ask you to add a particular paragraph, while another editor might ask you to delete it. Listen to the voice inside you—the voice that told you to write your work in a specific way to begin with—and make your changes with caution and respect for your own creative ideas!
Cautions About Resubmitting Poems, Stories, and Essays
Submission managers track what you submit, when you submitted it, what comments editors had about your work (why it was accepted or rejected), and more.
For that reason, editors will be able to easily see if they’ve already considered a piece that you’re resubmitting.
But, you’re thinking, can’t I just change the title and they’ll never know?
We don’t recommend changing the title of your work to hide the fact that it is a resubmission. If you’ve revised the work significantly and those revisions merit a new title, then that’s probably acceptable because it is an authentic and necessary change. Editors will not appreciate sneakiness, however, and you wouldn’t want to become blacklisted within the writing community! Honesty is the best policy.
Also, keep in mind that you do not want to resubmit your work too often (resubmission in and of itself is not a good strategy for getting published). As writers, we’ve got to be continually pushing ourselves. Like athletes, we train. We work every day. We search for new stories, new combinations of words, new ideas.
It’s always better to submit new work whenever you can. However, resubmitting under certain circumstances can sometimes yield positive results.
The Bottom Line
When you’re considering making a resubmission, use your best judgment. There are no black-and-white, generic answers to the question “what is the best way to resubmit?” Each writer’s position is unique. What we offer above are broad guidelines based on our experience helping writers since 1994.
Just be sure you’re polite, professional, and thoughtful about your manner of resubmission. And if you need help, Writer’s Relief’s team of submission strategists is here to make sure our clients are benefiting from every possible advantage when they make their submissions!
What we offer above are guidelines based on our experience helping writers since 1994. On average, with well written work and well-targeted submissions, it takes 100 submissions for every acceptance. Chip away at those numbers by resubmitting work if it is not picked up in the first or second round of submissions. We’ve often seen work accepted in a third round of submissions. When you’re considering making a resubmission, use your best judgment. Each writer’s position is unique.