Is your submission strategy healthy and getting the results you want? Take a look at our seven signs of a successful submission strategy.
How many of these seven signs of success are showing up in your writing life?
Your work is strong. You’ve done your homework. You read regularly, voraciously. You’ve spent your time in workshops, lectures, and seminars at writing conferences. You’ve gotten really good at accepting both praise and criticism. You’re beginning to have a sense of confidence in your writing that you only thought you had before. And it’s starting to show.
You know the drill. Along with mastering your craft, you’ve put in your time learning about the etiquette of the publishing industry when it comes to submitting to literary agents or to literary journals. You know the proper format for a manuscript. You know the importance of professional proofreading. You know what your query letter or cover letter should say. Your submission packets (or electronic submissions) are polished, professional, and attractive.
You’re submitting regularly (and writing regularly). You take your submissions as seriously as you take your writing, and that means you’re setting aside a little time for both at regular intervals. Because your submissions are going out regularly, you’re in a better position to get more publication offers and acceptance letters.
You look at rejection letters positively. You’ve made it over the rejection letter hump and you no longer feel a debilitating pang of disappointment when your work is turned down. You look at your rejection letters as badges of honor: They mean you’re not letting the world get you down. You’re out there; you’re trying; you’re a positive thinker.
You’re not afraid of numbers. Along with being positive about your rejection letters, you’ve also made it past a writer’s urge to “just quit” after a few submissions. You understand that submissions are, to some extent, a numbers game. You know that if a work is reasonably strong, there absolutely is somebody out there who wants to read it. And that means you’re persistent. You’ll send a given piece out for as long as it takes until it finds a good home.
You’re getting better at knowing where not to send your work. In the beginning, you sent your writing almost everywhere. But now, you’re being more selective. You want to have a say over where your work is published, and you want to make sure that your work is given the white glove treatment. That means you’re spending more time searching through market books for lit mags and researching literary agents online. (Or you’re working with Writer’s Relief, so you know the research is spot-on.)
You’re always after something better. Your writing is getting better. Your submissions are getting better. Each day, you’re pushing yourself to be the best you can be. And every time you think you’ve made it to the top, you discover an exciting new peak to climb. But you’re in it, first and foremost, for the joy of the journey, not necessarily the accolades.
Does This Sound Like You?
If so, congratulations! You’ve got a healthy submission strategy and the mindset to go the distance.
But if you’re feeling frustrated, pessimistic, or just too busy to carve out the time needed to develop a strong submission strategy, it may be time to contact Writer’s Relief. Our submission strategists are more than trained motivators who are there to keep you writing; they’re also trained professionals who will regularly and expertly guide your submissions into just the right hands.
Photo by Jeff Hester.
QUESTION: Of the elements listed above, which comes easiest to you? Which do you need to work on?
Great article. It gave me a comfortable sense of where I’ve been, where I am now and where I’m going. Thanks!
“Your work is strong.”
I live in a non-english speaking country, so it’s very difficult for me to get to seminars and courses and the like. So it’s hard to know if I have a sense of confidence in my writing, or I only think I have.
Your English is good enough. I think you need not worry too much. Just keep reading and writing and submitting!
To answer your question, I am getting slightly better at knowing where to not send certain submissions. This is difficult for all of us because so many editors cannot or will not articulate what they want, saying simply that they publish “the best” available writing from “new, emerging, and established” writers.” Some editors decline to specific their aesthetic, instead saying that if we read a sample issue, we will know. How can a writer know after one issue when an editor does not know after many issues? Perhaps this is just my own weakness, but I admit to having read quite a few sample copies without having a sense of that journal’s tastes, beyond the very simple (e.g. free verse only). If you write or review war/peace poetry, try us at POETS AND WAR. We do not have to agree with your theme but we must admire your poems. And we do not disdain tradition or fetishize the “experimental” — both approaches can produce wonderful writing.
James,if you are not sure whether your work is good, I hope that you will not rely on the submissions process to find out. Editors’ tastes vary, and their moods vary, and there are zillions of competing writers, so being rejected is not necessarily a sign of weak writing. Being published is not always a sign of very good writing, either, as you know every time you read a poem or short story that you think not worth the first reading, let alone subsequent readings. We writers have to decide for ourselves how good or lacking our own writing is, even at the risk of distorted judgments because of vanity or insecurity. As the article suggests, always trying to write better is a good idea regardless of the current level of our work. Unless you need publication for career purposes, winning bar bets, or getting dates, marketplace realities should probably be secondary.
Hello, appears that procrastination between efforts is my weak point. Writers Digest was encouraging after my last contest (2016) entry. I shall follow up with your services very soon. Susan O’Neill, author of LIFE SONG:An Irish Odyssey
I often find that Agents (in particular) ask that the writer include certain items such as Synopsis and, say. the first two chapter of the manuscript – in the body of the Query email (obviously not as attachments). The only way I can figure out to do this is to simply Copy the relevant material and Paste it immediately below the final Yours sincerely etc of the Query letter.
Can any one out there offer a better method so that the actual formatted Chapters appear in the email as they are formatted in the actual manuscript (done in 12pt Times in Word)?
When an agent requests that the sample pages be included in the email, we recommend that you paste it in after your signature. Go down a space or two, put in a few dashes/asterisks, and then paste the info requested by the literary agent.