August 19, 2015 by Nathaniel Tower
Too many writers overthink where to send their work. Even more writers underthink it.
While there are plenty of writers who spend more time deciding where to submit than they do writing, many don’t spend any time thinking about it at all. Instead, they throw out their stories and poems in a willy-nilly fashion, believing they’ll get an acceptance if they send out a piece enough times. You can’t lose ‘em all, right?
However, this clueless approach to submitting generally results in few publications and an acceptance rate more depressing than listening to Joy Division after your cat dies.
The odds are already against any given piece being accepted by any given venue (unless you are sending your work to one of the few publications with an acceptance rate over 50%). You may think you are improving your odds by shoveling out 75 simultaneous submissions. But if there is no strategy to your submissions, then the only thing that really stands to improve is your rejectability.
Choosing where to submit your writing should be as easy as 1, 2, 3. And you can achieve this simplicity without tossing your work at every venue on Duotrope. By following this simple 3-point checklist, you can pick the right venues to send your writing without overworking yourself.
- Do You Like What They Publish?
Before you submit, you have to read. The very first thing you should do when you find a potential venue for your own work is check out the stuff they publish. Read at least 3 or 4 of the stories or poems they’ve published recently. If you don’t like what you read, don’t submit. That’s like asking people you don’t like to hang out with you. If, on the other hand, you do like them, then you’re ready to move onto the next step.
- Do You Support What They Do?
It’s awesome if you like what they publish. But before you get too giddy over the prospect of a new home for your masterpiece, you need to find out more about the publication. Read their About page. Find their mission statement. Look at what they do on social media. Do you like what you see? If they are posting sexist comments on Twitter and forcing authors to pay top-dollar for contributor copies, you need to be sure you feel comfortable with that. After all, your name could be permanently attached to their website. If you don’t support anything you see, then jump ship before it’s too late.
- Would You Be Happy Here?
You should have a goal for every piece of writing. The goal could be as simple as get this damn thing published. But in many cases, you might wish for something a little more. Maybe you want a lot of eyes on your words. Or maybe you want to earn some cash for a particular story. Whatever the case, make sure the venue you’re submitting to can fulfill those needs. You’ll probably regret giving away the best story you’ve ever written to a non-paying venue that has 200 yearly visitors (half of which are probably submitters just like you).
If you can honestly answer “yes” to all three of these questions, then you’re ready to submit. Of course, you also need to have something that actually fits. But that’s a topic for another day.