Yesterday, I received good news. The editors of Looking Back magazine notified me that they would be sending me a contract for my story "Dancing With Dad" and then went on to ask for the pictures that accompany the story be sent in a higher resolution, or to send them the originals. (Fat chance of that happening! These are old pictures and family treasures!) I'd originally submitted the story for Good Old Days magazine, but the editor/publisher of both thought it fit better in Looking Back.
I shared the good news with my writers group, and one of our members who has been on hiatus and recently returned to the group wrote to me with a question. She said she has been trying to make herself submit her work. Every month, she says this will be the month I send something to an editor, but then it doesn't happen. She asked me if I had any tips that would help her achieve her goal.
It's not an uncommon problem among writers. I know many writers who write with the thought of publication, but they never submit their work to an editor. And if asked why, they probably could not give a direct answer.
I think that often our subconscious takes over and tells us that if we never send our work to an editor, we will never have to deal with rejection. That's true, but it isn't going to get your name in print anywhere. And it isn't going to help you grow as a writer. And it isn't going to allow the world to read what you've written. And it isn't going to boost your confidence level either. That's enough isn'ts.
Let's try being realistic about submitting your work.
1. It takes time: First, you need to do some searching to find a place where what you have written fits. You need to send an article on knitting to a handicraft magazine just as you would only send a gardening essay to a publication that deals with that subject in some manner. Once you find a market, you had better spend time checking and rechecking the submission guidelines. I cannot emphasize that step enough. Many submissions get tossed because they simply did not follow the guidelines. Next, you need to get the submission ready to send, whether by e-mail or snail mail. And finally, you need to record (somewhere, anywhere) what you sent, where you sent it, and when.
2. Success is not guaranteed: Darned little in this life is a sure thing, and submitting your writing to objective eyes is definitely a gamble. The odds are that more of your work will be rejected than accepted, especially in the early stages of your writing life. Convince yourself that you're not alone in this. We all know misery loves company, but your own misery after a rejection always runs higher. Take a chance. One of the submissions will be accepted. Who knows, you might even have beginners luck and hit the jackpot on the first submission. A nice dream you say? Well, it does happen occasionally.
3. Discipline is needed: We all need discipline in many aspects of our lives. You had to learn to discipline yourself doing homework from grade school on. Submitting your writing is no different. It, too, requires discipline. Your husband can't do it for you. Your kids can't do it for you, and neither can I. You know who must be the responsible one.
4. No time like the present: Don't promise yourself you'll submit your work next month or next week. Do it now. When we set the time line too far ahead, it's pretty easy to slide right on by. Do it now. And don't stop with one submission. I have numerous submissions out. All publications have different response times, so you need to keep the submissions going.
5. Start writing a new story: This is a biggie. Once you send a completed piece of your writing to an editor, get started writing a new story right away. Keep the wheel turning and before you know it, you've established a habit.