Updated November 2023
Ready to submit your creative writing to literary magazines and to literary agents? The submission strategy experts here at Writer’s Relief have created the essential checklist you’ll need to prepare submissions that will get results.
The Creative Writing Submissions Checklist Every Writer Needs:
✅ Identify your best manuscript/poems. If you’re submitting short prose or poetry, you may find it difficult to pinpoint your BEST work for submission. Learn more about literary journal trends to help you pick the best!
✅ Solicit feedback. Though you may or may not be able to afford a professional content editor for your manuscript, it’s always a good idea to have a knowledgeable fellow writer give your manuscript a once-over.
✅ Prepare a cover letter or query letter. We know, we know. This is easier said than done! Though a cover or query letter might appear to be nothing more than basic info (like an author bio, contact information, and a book blurb), agents and editors will read a LOT of subtext into your letter—whether you mean for it to be there or not. If possible, consider getting professional assistance to create your query letter. Or, at the very least, consult with successful peers to learn their strategies.
✅ Engage a professional proofreader. While a friend might be able to make suggestions about commas and missing apostrophes, a professional proofreader can spot less obvious errors and—more importantly—can bring your formatting up to industry standards.
✅ Create a submission tracking system. Keeping tabs on every submission you make is the key to a strong submission strategy. Detailed records will prevent you from making duplicate or overlapping submissions, and can also help you make stronger submission choices for future manuscripts. Be sure to track any personalized feedback you receive from agents and editors.
✅ Identify target markets. This might be the most important, make-or-break step of your submission process (apart from writing something great to submit!). And we won’t sugarcoat the facts: Finding the right literary markets for your submissions takes time. A lot of time. To find a hundred markets that are viable for your submission, you’ll need to weed through thousands that aren’t. Wish you were writing instead? Writer’s Relief can identify the best literary markets for your unique submission. Reach out to us today!
✅ Make your submissions. Once your submission is in top shape and all the research is completed, it’s time to actually send out your submissions! Be sure to follow the submission guidelines. And remember to log all of your submissions in your tracking system. “Future you” will thank you!
✅ Track editor responses. Not all rejection letters are created equal. Some editors will send a form letter with an occasional personal note. Others send “tiered” rejection letters. Learn to recognize the different tiers of standard rejection letters.
Rinse And Repeat: Get Ready To Do It All Over Again!
An effective submission strategy is not a one-and-done effort; it’s an ongoing process. If you’re planning on a fruitful writing career, you’re going to experience the ups and downs of the submission strategy carousel for a very long time.
If you find yourself getting discouraged, take active steps to ward off submission fatigue and writer’s block (Hint: Consider our book, The Happy Writer). Or reach out for help—from the submission assistance experts at Writer’s Relief!
Question: Which of the above points on your checklist do you find easiest?