Publishing Your Writing

General Guidelines for Submission

Every publication venue has its own slightly different rules and ways of handling submissions, but the following principles hold true for every venue:

  1. Treat the editor and staff of the publication with the utmost respect. Most editors are overworked and underfunded, and you don't want to give them a reason to reject your work.
  2. Neatness counts. Never submit a handwritten work. Proofread carefully; send in only your most polished work.
  3. Always include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) for notification. If you want them to return your work, include enough postage on the return envelope to make this possible (but see #4).
  4. Always keep a copy of whatever it is you're submitting. Manuscripts frequently get lost.
  5. It is a good idea to include a cover letter with any submission; this letter should be in proper business format. Keep the letter simple, respectful, and to-the-point: an editor friend of mine reminds writers that "we will never accept a piece based on a cover letter, but we might reject it." Don't include any information unrelated to your submission.
  6. If an editor or agent provides submission guidelines, read them carefully, and follow them to the letter. Once again, you don't want to give them a reason not to read your work.
  7. Keep good records.
  8. Do your homework. Don't submit to a publication without reading it first: you can write to the editor and request a back copy, or check out your local public or university library. Many publications maintain a website with sample articles (and submission guidelines). When choosing a place to submit, be picky. Don't submit to a publication if you don't respect or don't like the work they publish in your genre. Remember, once you've published a piece, most other publications won't take it (there are some exceptions to this), so aim high.
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Introduction