November 15, 2014 by Nathaniel Tower
For many writers, it often feels like we spend more time submitting our work than we actually do writing. And what are the results of our efforts? A pile of rejection slips so high we can barely breathe enough to write another sentence. If only there was some way we could improve our odds of getting an acceptance…
Wait, maybe there is. Here are six questions to ask yourself before sending out your next story, poem, or book submission:
1. Did You Read The Guidelines?
a. I skimmed them.
b. I read every word twice and even spotted a typo.
c. I’ve read a lot of guidelines before, so I know what I’m doing.
d. Guidelines are for suckers.
2. Does Your Submission Follow The Guidelines?
a. Mostly, but I don’t feel like double-spacing my story.
b. Down to every minor detail of formatting, style, and thematic element.
c. It’s a few words over the limit, but it’s a perfect story. I wouldn’t cut another word even if they asked me to.
d. My story kicks ass. Guidelines don’t apply to writing this good.
3. Have You Read Any Work Published By This Venue?
a. I scrolled through a story or two.
b. I’ve read a few of their stories and really liked what I saw.
c. I tried reading one but stopped when I realized my story is much better.
d. I don’t like reading.
4. Which Best Describes Your Cover Letter?
a. Cover letters are for people who can’t write great stories.
b. It’s short and to the point with a polite thank you.
c. My cover letter lists my demands if they choose to accept my work.
d. I address the staff as “Gentlemen” and tell them this is the best story they will ever read before listing my 600 favorite publishing credits.
5. How Many Times Did You Edit Your Submission Before Sending It?
a. I read it over once and added a coma.
b. This is the 7th draft, and I’m finally happy with it.
c. A friend looked it over and said it was perfect.
d. Edit? I don’t make mistakes. Drafts are for suckers.
6. Which Of The Following Best Describes Your Story?
a. Something so experimental that no one could ever read or understand it. I don’t even know what the hell it means. But it makes the paper catch on fire.
b. It’s an original storyline with strong character development and a focused plot.
c. It’s a rip-off of some Kafka story I read in high school.
d. It’s a typical struggling marriage story that takes place in a bar and features characters with stereotypical personalities. Oh, and everyone gets drunk and swears a lot before the story ends with all the characters dying in a horrific gunfight. There’s also a really awesome sex scene in there.
Well, how did you do? I don’t think I need to tell you the best answer for each question. Unfortunately, no quiz can guarantee your story is ready for publication. Even the most careful submissions can still be rejected because of timing or taste. However, if you actually follow all the guidelines and edit your story thoroughly before submitting, you stand at least a decent chance.
What other questions can you ask to make sure your submission is ready? Share in the comments below.