We’re in our final week of the Southbank Writer’s program in Surrey and what a great time it has been. This weekend our writers will take to the podium to read some of their best work before being let loose with their words.
Heidi Greco, who gave us a great class on poetry, has these final words of advice:
No matter how exciting your writing might be, it won’t find publication unless you send it out. And it won’t be accepted once it gets there unless it has the special something that appeals to an editorial board. They’ll be looking for those qualities that make it a match for their particular print or online publication.
Start compiling a list of places that might provide a home for your work. SFU’s library still subscribes to many periodicals. Often, just a look at what’s inside a magazine can help you determine whether it’s for you.
Visit magazine websites, as that’s where you’ll find more examples and – most importantly – specific guidelines for submission. Do they want 3-5 poems? Stories no longer than 2,000 words? Your name on the work – at the top, bottom, only mentioned in a cover letter?
Although many print magazines now accept electronic submissions, not all of them do. And some that do accept e-submissions want the work embedded in a message, not sent as an attachment. Others prefer an attachment. Some even specify a particular subject header. Online magazines are every bit as specific in their guidelines as print ones.
Whatever the process – electronic submission or paper – do it the way they ask you to. If you don’t, your work probably won’t even be considered.
Don’t bug the editorial staff about your work. Many publications take several months to reply.
If your work isn’t accepted (face it, this is the case with most submissions – or magazines would be bigger than phone books), take it as a sign that you should look at the piece again.
Then, when you’re sure the work is the best that you can make it, find another place where it might make a better fit and send it out again.
If you set yourself a goal – and keep it – of always having something (say, three different submissions) ‘out there’ you’ll not only find that the sending out gets easier, it’s likely that your work will be making it into print.