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:
- 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.
- Neatness counts. Never submit a handwritten work. Proofread carefully; send in only your most polished work.
- 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).
- Always keep a copy of whatever it is you're submitting. Manuscripts frequently get lost.
- 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.
- 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.
- Keep good records.
- 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.