When Sending in Submissions

28 Dec

I’ve recently been looking through a marketing book on prospective publishers and magazines wanting submissions in my chosen genre, and this reminded me of something I really need to blog about.  As I’ve scouted for likely oppurtunities, I have been making sure to check into the published content of the magazines where I could get such information.  This doesn’t seem like an important step, especially when I’m going to follow all of the guidelines and still have to hope for the best anyway.  But, when sending in submissions, not caring what a magazine or publisher publishes regularly can double the chances of your work getting rejected.  Here’s a true story illustrating my point:

Several years ago, there was a children’s game site that I and my siblings used to visit everyday.  It was a site rated for everyone, but one Halloween they threw a story contest for the kids 7-12.  No money would be won, but the winners would have their story posted to the site’s homepage and would earn bragging rights.  That was good enough for me, so I immediately set to work.

I took my time writing my story, editing it carefully, and questioning every element until I thought it was absolutely perfect.  Then I made sure that my story followed all of the guidelines and rules listed so that I’d have no reason to be overlooked.  Once all I could do was done, I took a calming breath and sent my baby onwards to the judges.  Then I waited.

The next week, as I read through the winners and honorable mentions, I realized something that should have occurred to me sooner.  My story about a girl and her boyfriend breaking down on a deserted road one night, then being stalked and torn to bloody, gory ribbons as they screamed in agonizing terror wasn’t going to win.  Although, I had understood the importance of using good description and lots of showing to get the most out of my 1,000-word limit, then followed all the rules as well as I could, I had not had the common sense enough to prevent an embarrassing blunder in its content.  It was a heartbreaking lesson, but one best heeded.

I’d like to say that I’ve never made the mistake again, but I have, and I was rejected then too.  I had seen a particularly good offer too late and entered what story I could within the deadline time.  At least the rejection e-mail was friendly.

This is not to say that your studies will insure publication, but knowing that the magazine targets wild game hunters can save you the trouble of sending in your article about edible wild vegetation.  And knowing what is being looked for can help in the next round of submission requests if you’re rejected.  Pieces are rejected for many reasons, even when they’re good, so don’t give up.  This is just a precautionary reminder to be careful and take that extra step.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  If you did, or even have a story of your own, be sure to leave a comment!


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easy reading is damn hard writing

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