Continuing the Submission Process...
Offering guidelines allows editors to reduce the amount of unusable submissions sent to them. Guidelines provide a step by step guide for the writer. For instance, a writer can learn if single or double spacing is asked for, if paragraphs are to be indented or not, if there are certain items to be listed at the top of the entry (ie. name, address, phone, e-mail, word count, rights offered). Guidelines might specify that only unpublished work is accepted, or they might say that reprints are welcome. The information is there to help and is meant to be followed carefully. If the writer disregards the information, the submission will end up being tossed, so it is to her benefit to follow guidelines carefully.
If a cover letter is included with the submission, keep it short and professional. If at all possible, learn the editor’s name and use it--Dear Mr. Brooks rather than Dear Dan. If a writer has never been published, there is no need to point it out. If published, she should give a short resume of where her work might be found.
Send the cover letter, the submission, and a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) if you are submitting through postal mail. Don’t add cutesy things to any of the above. Be professional at all times. If indicated that submissions are accepted via e-mail, so much the better. No postage, no SASE to be included. Pay careful attention to the guidelines as to whether the editor prefers attachments or to have the submission copied and pasted into the body of the e-mail.
Set up a record-keeping system of some kind. It may be a series of index cards, a notebook with a page for each piece you’ve written, or a more complex spreadsheet on the computer. How it’s done is a personal choice, but do it.
The last step in the submission process is not to sit back and wait for an answer. A response may not arrive for weeks, perhaps even months, occasionally never. The final step is to begin to work on a new story, article, or essay and start the submission process all over again. Keep a ferris wheel of submissions going at all times.