So we’ve reached the next step. The story is written, edited, and polished. It sparkles enough that we can allow others to bask in its glow. Yeah. In order to do that, we need to send it to publications.
Okay, I’ll turn off the spotlights.
Now take a deep breath. I realize you’re thinking about what happens when an editor gets the story in hand. Let me give you a few guidelines to help ease you into this.
1) This is NOT the time to panic. Think about this. You are wanting to write for more than a hobby. A professional writer can’t afford to panic every time a story leaves their hands. I realize it is like your baby, but even babies grow and leave the nest.
2) Editors are seeking the best possible choice for their publication. Going in, you must BELIEVE that you fit that definition.
3) No matter what happens with the story, the editor is not rejecting YOU. The writing is separate from you. It may be an extension of you, but it is not you. Do not do something rash and hate-filled if you do receive the rejection. Pause, realize maybe the story didn’t fit the publication, and move to your next option.
Okay, all that said, let us get down to the basics of submissions. This won’t be detailed because of one primary concept I must present first.
RESEARCH! (For those that watched the cartoon “Jackie Chan Adventures,” imagine this is Uncle – Must do research.)
You know where you want to send the story. Now the big thing is to find out details of how they want to receive it. Electronic or postal, single spaced or double, white paper or some other color. What are their margin requirements?
For every publication out there, you have a submission guideline. In days of old, you had to write to the publication, request the guidelines, wait for a response, then redo your paperwork accordingly. Nowadays, those steps are reduced to look up the publication’s webpage, find the proper link and read.
A few other tips:
1) I realize you want to stand out from the crowd, but your writing should do that for you, not the way the submission arrives. Colored paper, any color other than black print, or an outlandish font will be deal breakers even before your submission is read.
2) Some publications want a cover letter. This is a simple, one page letter introducing yourself and your story. DO NOT SUMMARIZE THE STORY. Just offer a title and about how long the story is. (Try to be as accurate as possible with word count.)
Realize, this is the next step on the path. If you balk here, you still have a chance to proceed forward. But once the story leaves your hands, there is no going back.