There comes a time in every writer’s life when for one reason or another, you’ll want to withdraw (or take back) a submission you sent to a literary journal that’s still under consideration for publication.
Reasons you might want to withdraw your writing submission include:
- You’ve revised and want to resubmit a better version of the same piece.
- You’ve decided you don’t want to see that highly intimate confessional poem published after all.
- You’ve accepted an offer from another literary journal, so the piece is no longer available.
How To Withdraw A Poem, Story, or Essay…
Using a Submission Manager
We love online submission managers! They give a writer more control over the submission process and make everyone’s life easier.
Withdrawing your writing using an online submission manager is easy: Simply log on, click to the piece in question, and make your withdrawal.
NOTE: If you have submitted a group of poems, you may need to withdraw the ENTIRE group, then resubmit that group minus the one or two poems you are withdrawing.
Making Your Withdrawal Request By Email
If a journal doesn’t use a submission manager, you’ll have to find the editor’s email address and send an email requesting that your piece be removed from consideration.
You may want to note in your subject line: Withdrawal request for Name of Piece, by Writer Name.
You don’t need to give an explanation of your reasons for the withdrawal. Keep your note short:
If you have not already read my essay, “Over the Moon!” I would like to request that it be withdrawn from consideration. If possible, please reply and let me know you received this note. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time.
You may or may not receive a response. We don’t recommend multiple follow-ups: Sometimes, busy editors do get emails but simply don’t reply.
Requesting A Withdrawal By Mail
Generally, we don’t recommend using mail to make a request to withdraw your work. Snail mail takes too long—email ensures that your note will arrive in the editor’s hands quickly.
If you must make your request by mail, you can use the same text as an email withdrawal: polite, brief, and professional.
What If Your Withdrawal Request Is Accidentally Ignored?
Literary journals get a lot of email, mail, faxes, etc. Things get lost or shuffled. Frankly, it happens with some regularity that a writer’s request for withdrawal is lost. Suddenly, a writer who asked for his/her piece to be removed from consideration receives an offer of publication.
If this happens to you, and the piece is not available for any reason, don’t panic. You did your part. Sometimes, email requests for withdrawal do get misplaced—but if you’ve got a copy of your sent request, any misunderstandings that arise due to disorganization at a given literary journal won’t be your fault.
In a best-case scenario, the editor will be so head over heels in love with your work that he or she won’t mind considering an alternate manuscript. Try offering a substitute for the withdrawn piece. Or, if the piece has already been published, try offering reprint rights to publish it (you can’t offer “first rights” if it has already appeared or is slated to appear somewhere else).
QUESTION: Have you ever had to withdraw a piece from a literary journal?