The Submission Process
A Guide For The New Writer
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A friend recently asked me for advice on the submission process. It wasn’t until she cross-examined me with several pertinent questions regarding her work that I remembered just how frightening the whole business can be if you’ve never done it before.
For me, and many others, the writing itself is never an issue. I revel in the art of creation, but being your typical introverted writer absolutely dread others seeing it. On top of this, I hate being made a fool of which stems from doing things wrong and being reminded of it (you know who you are). This is my own personal nightmare. I can turn off to what people say in both pros and cons regarding my work, but not to my own incompetence. Hence, I made sure of several fail-safes when submitting work.
Here are a few tips I have gleaned over time. I genuinely hope they help. If even one makes life easier for you, then this has been worth the writing.
The Bio Business
Most authors hate talking about themselves and the ones that don’t never shut up. So, when a magazine or publisher asks for a simple bio to be attached with your submission, it can render a writer paralysed. There is no need for this to be the case. In most circumstances, all that is required are two or three sentences stating a little about yourself and your previously published work or highlights. If you have none, it doesn’t matter, the editors are reading what you’re sending them not what you’ve sent elsewhere. Here are two examples of what are acceptable. Always write them in third person.
John Smith is a British writer born and bred in Lancashire. His work has been published in such notable periodicals as Clarkesworld Magazine and The Guardian. John writes daily for his own self-titled website.
John Smith is a new British writer born and bred in Lancashire. A writer of speculative fiction, John loves all aspects of the written word and its distribution. John writes a daily blog with a substantial following.
Number one has many qualifications and number two has none. They both sound good though. Never be afraid to tell it as it is.
PS: As a Yorkshireman, I have no idea why I chose to use Lancashire for my example, but it pained me to type it.
Once you have a short bio you’re happy with SAVE IT. Copy the thing and keep it safe. My tip is to never retype your bio, but, instead, copy it into emails, websites, or whatever is required. This method guarantees it always being the same, always correct and requires less checking. You can update it as and when.
Standard Manuscript Format
THE WHAT! Yes, it does sound terrible, but it isn’t. A lot of sites and potential places to send work will quote the name William Shunn. The reason for this, is William was kind enough to create a submission ready template that anyone can download from his site. Get it HERE. By writing your stories in this template or transferring them to it, you are guaranteed a professional looking manuscript. The template is essentially for Microsoft Word but I have opened it in several other word processors notably Google Docs and Apple Pages and it has worked fine. Plus, once you know how it looks, you can always type your own.
One little addendum here is to always check what a site requires. Some editors hate one font and love another, like a certain spacing in documents etcetera, etcetera. That’s no problem just select all on your document and alter it to how they want. Easy.
A Few Basic Tips
- Don’t mail your work with a stupid email name. I would suggest using a separate email account (Gmail allows you lots) to look more professional. Example: JohnSmithauthor@gmail.com as against Johnthebigman@gmail.com
- As previously stated, always format your work as requested. At times, it can seem petty, very petty, but they ask for a reason and the writer should respect that reason.
- I have mentioned before about having a Submittable account. Many writing outlets use Submittable to manage their submission process. Get one HERE. Submittable is a wonderfully easy site to use and also acts as a submission manager/database for you the writer.
- Many sites you submit to offer email updates on when and what they require at any given time of the year. As a rule, you won’t get bombarded by emails so it’s well worth signing up to them. Plus, if they don’t help, you can always unsubscribe.
You will be one of possibly hundreds of people sending submissions to your sites of choice. No matter how good a story is a publisher can only print so many. NEVER be discouraged. If you keep at it, keep polishing your work and choose your destinations with appropriate care, you WILL be published. They say you always remember your first time although I’ve forgotten. Either way, it’s wonderful to see your brainchild enjoyed by others.
I hope this little list has helped unlock some of your submission process worries. Good luck. I hope you become the next J.K. Rowling.
PS: Remember me with kindness if you do.
Thank you for reading
Richard M. Ankers
Author of The Eternals Series
Into Eternity (Very Soon!)