People often ask for tips for submitting a piece to a magazine. This is a quick list of my personal top five. Once you have written your story, essay, poem or other piece that you intend to submit, follow these steps to help increase your chances of receiving that coveted acceptance letter:
1) Edit well, edit again and edit some more. Put the piece aside for a while in between edits, if you aren’t dealing with a looming deadline. This will help you to find errors that you might not notice when you’ve been staring at the piece for several hours.
2) Read it aloud to check for errors. When you read it silently, you read what you believe you have written. Reading aloud forces you to say each word, rather than skimming over the stuff you feel sure about. You will also notice sentences that don’t flow nicely, and other little oddities that you otherwise might have missed.
3) Have someone else read it and give feedback and editing if at all possible.
4) Format the piece according to the guidelines of the magazine. Follow their guidelines to a T. This is really important. If you don’t send it the way they want it, they might toss it without even reading it. If you aren’t sure about something, don’t be afraid to contact them with your questions.
5) Have patience. It may take as little as a day, but it will more likely be four to six months before you get a response. Some magazines receive thousands of submissions per year, and can take up to a year to respond.
Bonus tip: Rejections are never fun, but don’t lose heart. Keep sending the piece out. There are many reasons why editors reject pieces. A quarterly magazine that receives a thousand submissions or more per year has to make some tough choices. It could be that the piece didn’t fit in with their style, which is why it’s a good idea to check out past issues of a mag before you send your submission. Sometimes, the reason for a rejection is simple. If the guidelines specifically ask for Times New Roman, double-spaced and you send your submission single-spaced in Comic Sans Serif, chances are high that you will receive a rejection.
Good luck, keep writing and don’t be afraid to send your work out there.
If you have any tips that you want to add, please feel free to leave a comment.