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I’ve been submitting a lot lately (Yay! It’s about time!). With due diligence, my fantasy story is still being shopped around the science fiction/fantasy mags. Currently, it’s out among four publications. Here’s hoping it lands with one of them. So far one these publications (who shall remain nameless) has rejected it. The editor said, “…it didn’t quite work for me, I’m afraid.” Damn. I could’ve at least gotten some notes as to why. My online writing instructor teaches that when your story is in the submission phase, only revise on request. Which I’ve done for the rejections that gave me useful notes. I didn’t receive any notes this time around, so I’m not revising jack! And with that, I just have to suck it up and keep submitting!

When submitting, a major key we need to remember is: Am I submitting my story to the right publication? You may think, “Well that’s a pretty obvious assessment there, Zeke!” Not so fast, Missy! It’s not as simple as, “Here’s my fantasy story. Should I send it to a true crime magazine?” No, it’s more like, “Here is my adult dark fantasy story, should I send it to this children’s fantasy magazine?” Or “Here’s my space opera novel, should I send it to this magazine that only publishes hard sci-fi?”

What I’m trying to say is, make sure you know what type of story you’ve written and make sure you are submitting it to the right type of magazine. Make certain you are cognizant of the devils that are in the details of the publication’s content. In order to insure this, a good idea is to read the publication first. Most submission guidelines tell you to do this. It’s solid advice and that’s what I’ve been doing lately.

I’ve bought, downloaded and read some of the publications I’m submitting to and I’m trying to get a good sense of what they tend to publish. Some questions we should be asking are: Does my story fit their criteria? Is my writing style compatible with what they’ve published in the past? Is my skill level up to the task of what the particular publisher has put out? If the answers are ‘yes’ then submit away my friend! If the answer is ‘no’, then submit a more compatible story or submit the story elsewhere. I know this stuff sounds like common sense, but you’ll be surprised how much editors complain about how often they come across this issue.

Submitting to different publications can get a little hectic. What story did I send? When did I send it? Who did I send it to? Have I heard back yet? When should I query about my submission results? This can be very daunting. A good thing to create for yourself is a submission list. In order to keep track of what and where I’m submitting, I created an excel spreadsheet. This has been a godsend!

My submission list spreadsheet contains the:

  • Title of my submission
  • Submission date
  • Response date
  • Publisher
  • Category/Genre of the submission
  • Submission status (ie. rejected, accepted, in progress, etc.)
  • Publisher’s website and/or URL of the submission guidelines page
  • Contest (yes or no)
  • Publication genre type

So don’t just read the submission guidelines to the publication, read the publication as well. Know it. Understand it. Become one with the publication. Then submit!