A couple weeks ago, I discussed the importance of getting your work out there, and a couple months ago, I gave some pointers about submitting to literary magazines. Now that I’ve given you the how and why, you’re at the stage where it’s time to start defining your submission plans. What would I suggest?
Aim for one hundred rejections. That’s right. This may sound like a glass-is-half-empty kind of approach, but I’ve put a positive twist on it. If you set a goal of one hundred rejections a year, then that means you’ve submitted your work one hundred times. Think about that for a minute.
But if 100 rejections feels like a little too much your first time out, then lower the goal. Either way, make one. Lay out your plan.
Don’t hang your hopes on one piece
The more work you’ve completed and prepped, the better your odds that something gets published. While one piece is away, don’t stop to wait around for the responses. Put it out of your mind. Work on something else; make it even better than what you’ve sent out. You’d be surprised how quickly time passes when you’re focused on something else.
Track your progress
Keep track of when and where you send your stories. If you’re — like me — ridiculously lazy, then I’ve got great news for you! There are tools out there to help you keep track of your story submissions. Thanks to Robyn, I was acquainted with one some months back, and I’ve been using it ever since, but I’ve since learned of others that I think may be beneficial to share with you all. See below.
Sonar: A simple, free program developed by author Simon Haynes. It lets you plug in your manuscript name and when/where you send it. When you get a response, you simply check a box, fill out any relevant information, and Sonar does the rest. It tells you how long the submission has been out, too. This is the one I am currently using.
Duotrope: Not free, but apparently quite extensive. Membership (after a free trial period) is $5.00 a month. They have a search that allows you to sift through the market, which makes finding the ideal submission places much simpler. They also have their own custom submission tracker.
Writer’s Planner: Unlike Sonar, this one is an online tracker. I haven’t tried it, but I’ve seen it recommended elsewhere, so if you’d rather keep it online, then perhaps this one will work better for you.
The Writer’s Database: This one is also an online tracker, and I quite like the layout of it. In addition to the submission tracker, they have a searchable market database and a word count tracker. It’s free, too.
Matt Bell’s submission tracker: For the Excel lovers, this one is a pre-made template, so if you like Excel, but you’re too lazy to make your own tracker (as I would be), then you’re in luck.
In conclusion . . .
The submission process doesn’t have to be a stressful, daunting task. Using current technology can greatly ease the transition into publication. If you’re dealing with multiple or simultaneous submissions, then tracking your output is one way of ensuring you don’t bite off more than you can chew. And since so much of it is free, there’s really no excuse not to give it a try. So there you have it. Submitting made easy! Get your work out there!
Thank you so much, Michelle #HUGS I am not a fiction writer, but tracking your goals and submissions would prove helpful for any genre. Passing this along to my Facebook friends #HUGS
Exactly! And thanks for sharing!
Wonderful, Michelle. I agreed with everything, but want to put gold stars around, “Don’t hang your hopes around one piece.” Too many writers keep rewriting and submitting that same poem/short story/novel.
We have more stories inside us (fiction and nonfiction). We need to do keep writing new and different pieces.
Absolutely! I had that problem initially myself. I got stuck on one story. It took me a while to break out of that process. Now I’ve learned to just keep moving forward.
Reblogged this on Words and Wanderings.
Although I haven’t reached the goal of submitting anything yet (I feel like I may be travelling more down the self-publishing route), the ideas you provide Michelle were eye-opening nonetheless. Regardless of whether you are submitting to a publisher or literary source – or just to your personal collection – continuing the submission process, continuing to create content is of utmost importance. And there were a few nuggets of wisdom that really hit home with me, especially that part about not hanging your hat on one piece 😉 Thanks for sharing and best wishes for an inspired day!
You’ll definitely have to do what works for you. And you never know. Maybe you’ll submit something one day. (You can always do both, of course.)
I had problems early on with letting go of my work. It really stalled me — and there is nothing worse than standing still. Creating new content has been an essential lesson for me, so I’m sharing from experience. 🙂 Thanks as always for your thought-provoking comments!
As a Duotrope alternative, you could try The Grinder (http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com). It’s a magazine database as well as a submission tracker. Currently it’s in beta (so for the time being they only have listings for fiction, with poetry and non-fiction listings to follow), but I’ve been using it for over a year with no problem, and the admins are very helpful. It’s also free.
Oh, I haven’t heard of that one! Thank you for taking the time to share. (Man I’m so behind with comments. . . )
I’ll definitely check that one out. I really like the ones with the magazine databases. It makes the search for the right magazine much easier.
Great post! I might look into other trackers, thought I use Duotrope and I’m very happy with it. Not only hey have extensive search and data (for example on the percentage of accepted submissions, response times, etc.), but they also send out a weekly newsletter with market updates which gives information on new anthologies opportunities or new magazines out there.
Oh, excellent! Thank you for sharing your experience with it. I haven’t actually tried Duotrope myself, but I’ve heard a lot about it recently. The market updates could definitely be a useful tool for navigating the literary waters. I know a lot of missed opportunities for many writers are simply because they don’t know those opportunities existed in the first place. Thanks again for dropping by!
Thanks for this useful info! I came across your site on Jeff Goins’ facebook group, My 500 Words. I’m so new at submitting that I didn’t even realize there were already tools to keep track. I was just starting to realize I should keep track… now I don’t have to play with Excel. 🙂
Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! I’m really happy you found the information here useful. 🙂 Great to hear you’re starting to submit! Hopefully you find a tracker to your liking.
I really appreciate you told me where you found us. Wow! Best of luck with your submissions!