Writer Resistance – Roxane Gay

roxane-gay

Roxane Gay

According to Wikipedia, that most questionable but oh-so-convenient source of information, Roxane Gay is – among other things – “an American feminist writer, professor, editor and commentator … associate professor of English at Purdue University, [and] contributing opinion writer at The New York Times ...”

She is also, apparently, a champion for writers who want to stand up for their beliefs, even in the dog-eat-dog world of publishing.

Gay is perhaps best known for her NYT bestselling essay collection, Bad Feminist. But, she came across many new readers’ radar (mine included) in January when she pulled her upcoming book, How To Be Heard, from Simon & Schuster after learning that the company’s TED imprint, Threshold, had also signed to publish Milo Yiannopoulos’ book, Dangerous.

For those not familiar with Yiannopoulos, he is described in a related Washington Post article as a, “Greek-born, British writer who thrives on the publicity he generates by being outrageous. His incendiary and racist remarks about “Ghostbusters” actress and Saturday Night Live comedian Leslie Jones on Twitter got him permanently banned from the platform in July 2016.” They also note that, “His caustic viewpoints on women, minorities, Muslims and immigrants have made Yiannopoulos a de-facto mouthpiece for the ‘alt-right’ movement, short for alternative right, a small, far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state.”

In a January statement to Buzzfeed, Gay explained her stance and how it was her “putting my money where my mouth is.”

And to be clear, this isn’t about censorship. Milo has every right to say what he wants to say, however distasteful I and many others find it to be. He doesn’t have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege. So be it. I’m not interested in doing business with a publisher willing to grant him that privilege. I am also fortunate enough to be in a position to make this decision. I recognize that other writers aren’t and understand that completely.

Yesterday, Simon & Schuster cancelled Yiannopoulos’ book deal. The publisher reportedly made the decision in response to statements Yiannopoulos made about pedophilia on a conservative radio talk show.

Gay posted a reaction to the publisher’s change of heart on her Tumblr:

In canceling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place. When his comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online. Let me assure you, as someone who endured a bit of that harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty but hey, we must protect the freedom of speech. Certainly, Simon & Schuster was not alone in what they were willing to tolerate. A great many people were perfectly comfortable with the targets of Milo’s hateful attention until that attention hit too close to home.

.I share this story because I think there are several things we can learn from it and, specifically, from Gay’s words and actions.

First of all, freedom of speech must exist for everyone, even those whose opinions we find abhorrent. Censorship is not advisable as a solution because silencing any voice opens the door to silencing all voices. (Personally, I wish that more individuals and news institutions would stop providing free press and air time to people like Yiannopoulos, but that is – perhaps – an opinion for a different post.) We can, however, find other ways to condemn and cripple hate speech and oppression in all its forms. Gay’s choice to pull her book from the publisher was a powerful way for her to a) exercise her will in the situation, and b) bring wider attention to the story.

I also think there is something important about how far Yiannopoulos had to go before Simon & Schuster drew the line. I haven’t had time to fully digest what it means that, as Gay points out in her Tumblr post, the publisher was willing to look past all kinds of offensive opinions until pedophilia was in play. It makes me think of the quote from Martin Niemöller that begins, “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.”

Finally, I believe that artists – including writers – must very often play the role of canaries in the coal mine. While it is not mandatory that every creative endeavor carry the weight of political opinion, I believe history will show us again and again that artists are often the first line of defense against forces of oppression, in all their hideous forms.


Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. In addition to my bi-weekly weekday posts, you can also check out my Saturday Edition and Sunday Shareworthy archives. Off the blog, please introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.
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Persistence

While I’m hiking The Long Trail, I’m reposting old favorites. This one originally published January 20, 2011.

ITWplainSeeing the galleys for my first book was like seeing a sonogram of a baby that’s been growing inside me for years. I was giddy with excitement to see the cover, the type, and the design of the chapters. Like one of those biblical matriarchs, I felt as if I’d been waiting six hundred years for this birth. In truth, it had only been twenty-five. 

In February, 1985, I received my first rejection letter for a novel I’d written the previous year. The letter arrived on my twenty-ninth birthday, and I despaired of achieving my goal of having a book published before I turned thirty. I didn’t start my next novel until ten years later, and I was well into my forties by the time it was complete – and it’s still not published. I wrote Into The Wilderness in 2002, when I was forty-eight.

During the twenty-five years I’ve been writing but not publishing novels, I’ve also raised a family and worked to help support it. I’ve done some interesting things, like taught literature to health care workers and writing to inmates; and I’ve done some less interesting things, like laundry. I’ve worried about my children, argued with my husband, witnessed my parents age, and – always – kept writing.

A few years ago, a published friend said to me, “The single thing that separates those who get into print from those who don’t is persistence.”

I persisted.

I have the requisite number of rejection letters to wallpaper not just the fabled bathroom, but also the interior of a small house. Some are simple form letters; others are full of high praise. I’ve come to prefer the form letters that start with, “Dear Writer” to those that say what a splendid writer I am and what a wonderful book I have – for someone else to publish. There were months when I could have been working in a boomerang factory, when all the typescripts I sent out kept homing back. But a year ago, I received the letter I’d been waiting for all this time, and now, my book is in print.

This long, slow, journey has made me wonder what gave me the tenacity to keep writing despite so many other things to do (help with homework, wash dishes, plant peas), and what gave me the chutzpah to keep refusing to accept repeated rejection. My answer: my cats and my dog.

My dog doesn't know how to read.

My dog doesn’t know how to read.

As Groucho Marx famously said, “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” My dog is a great companion, but she’s illiterate. She dislikes the indoor, sedentary pleasures of literature. She’d rather be outdoors, on a walk. I did a lot of thinking on those walks, which are a kind of moving meditation in which I work out narrative difficulties. I also watch my pooch in her mostly futile attempts to catch the chipmunks. Despite her dismal record of failure, my dog never fails to take up the challenge. She flings herself over stonewalls and gives herself whole-heartedly to the chase. And she’s never discouraged by her failure to catch a chipmunk, only by my failure, some days, to take her out.

My cats, on the other hand, want me to do nothing but sit at my desk all day, so they can drape themselves decorously across my papers, my lap, or my keyboard. They approve of literature, and like to lie across the page of any open book, but especially on the page I’m reading. One of them likes to watch the cursor progress across my computer screen; the other likes best to curl up in a manuscript box, anchoring the pages in place. As far as they’re concerned, the only reason for me to leave my desk is to open a can of cat food.

Between the cats and the dog, I’m blessed with companions who provide inspiration, in the case of the felines, and a model of persistence, in the case of the dog. They have been good company for this long haul. They’ve helped mitigate the loneliness of writing in silence, a silence that has at last come to an end.

Deborah headshotDeborah Lee Luskin will resume writing when she returns from hiking The Long Trail. Meanwhile, you can still receive An Essay Every Wednesday emailed directly to your inbox – just subscribe at www.deborahleeluskin.com. It’s easy, it’s entertaining, educational, and it’s free!

Carina Press is looking for your story

Carina Press has made two big calls for submissions recently. Carina is the digital first imprint from Harlequin. They publish books in a wide variety of fiction genres including contemporary romance, steampunk, erotic romance, gay/lesbian fiction, mystery, science-fiction, and fantasy, among others.

In the past, Carina has required a completed manuscript and a detailed synopsis for submission. Recently, Carina announced their first-ever call for proposals. If your book meets a few important criteria, you could be in luck, but hurry! The deadline is July 13th and there are a few conditions:

That’s it, so what are you waiting for? Submit your proposal today!

New Anthologies from Carina in 2017

Carina has also announced a call for submissions for 5 anthologies to be released in 2017 both as anthologies and as novellas. The requested word count is 25,000 to 40,000  and genres:

  • A Jewel Thief, Capers and Heists Anthology
  • Alien Love: A Romance Anthology
  • Sexy Shifters: A Male/Male Romance Anthology.
  • Sexy Shifter A Het Romance Anthology
  • Too Taboo: A Forbidden Erotic Romance Anthology

Submission dates vary by anthology but start August 1st with Too Taboo and end October 4th with the Capers and Heists anthology. Decisions are offered approximately 3 weeks after submission.

Details can be found on the Carina Press website.

Good luck and make sure you let us know Carina accepts your work!

What are you working on this summer?

So You Want to Write for Pay, but You Haven’t Been Paid for Writing Yet

When you first start out seeking to get paid for your writing you enter the Catch-22 of needing to prove you can write for pay in order to write for pay.

What do you do when you’re starting out, haven’t written for publication in years, or are switching industries and don’t have any relevant or current clips?

The answer is simple: Use whatever you have.

LaptopWhen I first started out, all I had was book reviews. So I used them to get a gig with a local paper that involved interviewing local business owners and writing about them.

Some advice is to never use clips from content mills. I say if that’s all you have, use ’em. Especially if they are related to the type of article you are pitching or the type of writing job you are applying for. At one point I was writing for a mill (it no longer exists) on  various topics relevant to small business owners. I used those clips when I pitched to editors on similar topics. (This mill had editors and strict guidelines on key words, length of each paragraph, etc. – a lot of mills let anyone write and publish without doing much in the way of gatekeeping, as they are more about producing content than producing quality content.)

If you have a blog, your posts can be considered ‘clips’ – you can use those.

If you have clips from years ago, use those if they are what you have. You may want to explain to the editor (when you submit) why the clips are old, but generally if you used to write to a deadline for publication, you probably still have that skill, so the dates won’t be an issue.

How about writing an article as a sample/example? This may work, as it can demonstrate your writing ability, but editors and publishers want to see your published writing so they can see you know how to write to a deadline, for publication, and/or within a certain word count.

Sending your clips

With the high rate of viruses and malware, I don’t know many people any more who are fond of attachments. So I recommend *not* sending clips as attachments, or hyperlinks. When I send off queries, I mention titles of articles/clips and include the full website link (if applicable and available – and it’s short enough), and offer to send clips in whatever format they prefer (Word or PDF generally).

When you start to publish, keep track of the links to your articles (if they are online). Start a spreadsheet or document so you can easily find what you need. But before sending a link off with an query letter, confirm it still works. Links can disappear or become unusable quickly. Make sure to avoid having the editor find “Page not found”.

If you’re interested in writing for publication, most likely you have some type of writing you can use as a ‘clip’ when you submit a query. I’m confident you’ll be able to land a paid writing gig with the right determination and approach.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Motivate Yourself by Submitting to a Writing Contest

Today’s post is as much for me as it is for you. You see, I’ve been quite lethargic about writing fiction lately, as my business has been so pleasantly busy that I don’t have time to write for fun.

I put don’t have time in italics, since, we all know that we make time for what is important to us. I do have time. I have the same amount of time as everyone else and if I truly want to write fiction, I will find a way.EnterWritingContests

Today’s post is my self-motivation for finding that way.

Submitting to contests is a great way to be inspired to write, to actually write, and to actually submit. I’ve done it. I know it’s always fun and challenging and a unique way to get the must to come out and play.

My all-time-favorite contests are the quarterly 24-hour contests by WritersWeekly.com, where you register in advance (this is for the July 9 contest) and pay the modest $5 fee, then on the date of the contest, you receive the writing prompt, the word count, and the guidelines. You have 24 hours to write, polish, and submit a short story.

It’s up to you if you want to pay a fee or not. $5 is the most I’ve ever been willing to part with to enter a contest, but there are all types of contests available.

Here are some contest lists to get you started

I hope you try a writing contest, or two, to shake off cobwebs, exercise the muse, or to have some plain old fun for no other reason than you want to!

Deadlines are a great incentive in themselves, but you could win a prize (money, publication, or some type of gift), improve your writing and editing skills, and even give your self-confidence a boost — which is where I’m at.

Feel free to share your thoughts on contests, and if you have a favorite, please share!

(I’ll talk about contests from a judge’s perspective next week.)

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Angela James on Publishing

On May 21, 2016, the New Hampshire chapter of Romance Writers of America will be presenting Before You Hit Send, a workshop on self-editing created and presented by Angela James, the Editorial Director at Carina Press (the digital-first imprint of Harlequin). Last month Angela took some time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about herself, the workshop, and publishing. Workshop details can be found in my earlier post; today, we’ll talk about publishing.

When you think of the background and experience necessary to succeed in publishing, you probably think about a degree in English or maybe business, and maybe an internship at a New York publishing house. That path has certainly worked for many successful people, but Angela James would tell you the most important thing you need to be successful in publishing is a deep love of books and all things related to books, including authors and the editorial process.

Angela’s path to becoming the Editorial Director of Carina Press was not the traditional publishing career path. She grew up in North Dakota, where she learned to hate snow and love hockey, then went to college at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences where earned a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy.

She paid her dues in that field and eventually landed her dream occupational therapy job working on the East Coast at a state psychiatric facility. A lifelong lover of books and avid reader, she took on side work as a proofreader and copyeditor “just for fun.”

When she gave birth to her daughter, she left OT to be a stay at home mom, but quickly discovered she needed more interaction so she stepped up her freelance editing. By then she was working with authors like Jaci Burton and Mandy Roth. When Samhain Publishing opened its doors, Angela was recommended for an editor position.  While at Samhain, she moved up the ranks to Executive Editor, but she kept up her certifications and training credits because even then, she thought she’d go back to the occupational therapy field. Then Harlequin came knocking with their newly-minted Carina Press and Angela’s place in publishing was cemented.

It’s about the book and the reading experience. It’s about giving readers an amazing experience because books are awesome - Angela James with an ocean background

Angela loves new ideas and being able to make plans and take action on those new ideas. The constant change of the industry inspires her to continually develop ways to find new authors, improve things for their current authors, and grow the business.

Without that steady diet of change, Angela fears she’d lose her passion for the job and grow bored. Along with her management duties, James still carries a full editing schedule. She’s on track to edit 15 titles this year alone.

However, being responsible for the business success of Carina is equal parts blessing and burden. As much as she’d like to, she can’t just publish a book because she loves it. “When we say no to a book, it’s not always because we don’t think it’s good, or we don’t love it.” There are a multitude of authors the Carina team loves, or would love to work with, but much to her dismay she doesn’t have the luxury of publishing just to publish. It’s her job to publish books that ensure Carina’s continued growth and success. Sometimes that makes for hard choices. In a perfect world Angela wouldn’t have to worry about whether a book would be a moneymaker or grow the business.

Angela James on the future of publishing

I asked for her prediction about where publishing would be five years from now. On the outside she was polite, but on the inside, I had a sense she was groaning. “It’s hard to say where publishing will be one year from now, never mind five.” Her personal desire would be that in five years we will have long moved past the “us versus them” mentality that has taken hold, the idea that traditional publishers (which digital-first is now lumped with) are the enemy. In her experience, there are many people who work in publishing purely for the love of books, and who work hard to get good books in front of as many readers as possible. “It’s about the book and the reading experience. It’s about giving readers an amazing experience because books are awesome.”

This isn’t just talk. Angela tracked her personal reading on Good Reads last year and she read approximately 650 books. Stop for a minute and process that: six hundred and fifty books! This is in addition to the books she read for work. 650 books just for pleasure reading. Yes, she is a speed reader, and to be fair, some of the books were novella length or serializations, but she calculated it, and it worked out to be about 48 million words. That’s lots and lots and LOTS of words. Clearly, this is a woman who loves books; I guess she found her way to the right field after all.

Next time, I’ll share some of the personal side of Angela James, including what she wishes every author knew about publishing.


Lee Laughlin is a writer, marketer, social media consumer and producer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at Livefearlesslee.com. She writes for the Concord Monitor and her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is currently working on her first novel, a work of contemporary, romantic fiction.

Be Brave, Not Fearless

Last week I went to see Elizabeth Gilbert at a book event for her new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Though the book is just out, I’ve been listening to a podcast she’s been doing, which has given me a head start. Now, I’m already a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. I unapologetically loved Eat, Pray, Love. Her TED talks inspired me. (See them here and here.)

Seeing her speak was just terrific, and timely. I am days (DAYS!!) away from my long time dream of being published coming true. And you know what, dear readers? Fear is my co-pilot on this journey. I’ve been struggling with that—what is there to be afraid of? Surely I can meditate/visualize/breath through the fear and get rid of it. (Fear laughs hard at this, and moves back in, usually around 3 A.M.)

Elizabeth Gilbert said something that is resonating with me. Don’t be fearless, be brave. She said a lot more than that (a future blog post!), but for this week, that is enough. Don’t be fearless. Just be brave enough to act anyway. Let fear into the car, just don’t let it drive, use the GPS, change the radio station, or look at the maps. But fear gets a seat in the car. It would have taken one anyway.

Writing is a brave act. Getting published is related to writing, but it isn’t writing itself. The act of writing, which I’ve been doing forever, and actively doing for fifteen years with the hope of getting published, is brave. It is vulnerable, challenging, uncomfortable. And brave. Next week I celebrate getting published. But I’ve already won, because I’m a writer.

Launch Social Media FB postIn a bit of self promotion—if you live near the New England Mobile Book Fair, my launch party is next Tuesday, October 6, starting at 5:30. All are welcome. If you do come, please make sure and say hello, and that you know me from the blog.

In the meantime, let’s all work on being brave.

Time Is Flying!

It was almost two years ago that I signed my contract for the Clock Shop Mystery Series, which I am writing under the pen name Julianne Holmes for Berkley Prime Crime. Last week, on Wicked Cozy Authors, I wrote about how Julianne Holmes came into being. Today, I thought I’d write about the journey of the book, Just Killing Time, which will be published October 6, 26 months after I signed the contract. In a lot of ways, that is a long time. But in others? Yeesh, it is flying, especially since there are three books to write.

Just Killing Time debuts October 6!

Just Killing Time debuts October 6!

Just Killing Time has taught me a lot about the process of writing and publishing a book. Although other journeys will be different, many of the steps will be part of the process. Here’s what the past year has been like for me:

  • Writing the first draft of Book #1 (Just Killing Time). Seems obvious, but until you write the book, which can be a slog, you can’t move forward.
  • Reading, revising, and editing it yourself.
  • Having someone else read it, to see if it is a book. My friend Jason is my first reader. He loves the genre, reads a lot, is supportive, but can also give me tough love.
  • Take those notes, make changes, and polish it a bit more.
  • Have an editor look at it. That person can help in two ways. First, to make sure the story hangs together logically. Second, with wordsmithing, grammar, and other stylistic choices. There are a number of folks on this blog who are freelance editors. Finding one to work with can be tough. You need help, but you don’t need someone to rewrite your book.
  • Work on those suggestions. Polish, polish, polish. Then take a deep breath, and hit send to your publisher.
  • Wait for comments back. This can days, weeks, or in some cases months. My editor at Berkley is incredibly attentive, and it didn’t take long for her to come back to me with her editorial letter. This is the moment where you really need to get out of your own way. I had to do a massive rewrite on Just Killing Time. The rewrite made it a better book, but my ego had to step aside so that the writer could get to work. I also had to put Book #2 aside, so I could work on Book #1. That has been something that I am still learning how to do, keep two projects moving forward at the same time.
  • Resubmit, and wait for the next round of comments. This dance can go on for a while, but at some point the work will be done, and the book will be accepted. Do not, however, lull yourself into thinking the next time you will see it will be when it arrives as a book.
  • Around this time, I got to see the cover. I love it! I was asked for some ideas for the artist, but left it in their hands.
  • Copyedits are the next phase. These edits are from another source who is looking at consistency, making sure you are following the style sheet for the publishing house, and making clarifying edits. At this phase you can add, subtract, change. But it is a dialogue. Again, there is some back and forth.
  • Ask other writers to read it, and give you quotes that can be used in marketing. I will admit, this was a vulnerable moment for me, since I had to let the public see my baby. It all worked out, and was made easier by my Sisters in Crime relationships. Knowing other writers makes all the difference in so many ways. Don’t wait to find those networks.
  • Proofs are the next step. This is what I am working on now–reading the book again, looking for mistakes. This is not a time to rewrite. One great part of this phase is that I get to see how the book will be laid out, how the chapters look, etc.

These are all the book steps I’ve gone through so far. Next up will be marketing, getting ready for the launch (figuring out what that will be!), and hitting send on Book #2 by July 15.

These days there are lots of paths to publication, but the steps are going to be very similar. I am one of the lucky ones. This is a lot of work, but it is a dream come true, and it is getting more real by the day. Now, back to the editing of Book #2…

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J.A. Hennrikus writes short stories. Julie Hennrikus is an arts administrator. Julianne Holmes writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series. They all look alike.

Friday Fun — Choosing Publishers to Query

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: How do you decide which publishers to query with a particular piece?

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: I give a lot of credibility to agents who are recommended to me by others – it also doesn’t hurt to have a personal introduction to an agent by someone who is already being represented by her. Usually that’s enough to set up a dialog.

If I don’t have that, I pour through the yearly Guide to Literary Agents and I pay attention to the articles in writers’ magazines that will often highlight an agent who is looking for work.

If I am trying to match myself up with an unknown agent (sort of like being on a dating site) I tend to look for those with the following characteristics:

  • Women – they tend to be more receptive to my topics of parenting and life lessons (generally)
  • Age – while not a deal breaker, I would much rather go with someone who has put a few miles on their tires (as it were.) Again, this is because with maturity comes the wisdom that I try to write about.
  • Genre – memoir, parenting, chickens, humor – they have to have sold something in at least one of those areas
  • Humor – oh God, if they don’t have a sense of humor, I can’t hit the Delete button fast enough.
  • Technology – sorry, but if you need me to send you a hard copy then you’re not the right fit for me

Lastly, sometimes I just send out feelers. I’ve written to agents who posted something on twitter and have gotten responses from them. I’ve sent agents emails asking for information which eventually led to proposals.

Bottom line is keep your eyes and ears open.

Accepting Rejection

www.freephotosbank.com

I started submitting short stories to literary journals in the snail mail era, and amassed enough rejection slips to wallpaper a small house. photo credit: http://www.freephotosbank.com

There was a time when I took editorial rejection personally, allowing Dear Writer letters send me into a tailspin of despair. Having my work passed – even with praise – was so painful, that for a while I stopped submitting entirely – and delayed becoming published as a result.

Then, at a dinner party, I met a writer who had made it his goal to amass one hundred rejections in a single year. In the process, he placed eight stories.

By then, I was no longer writing short stories, but novels, and was seeking an agent. I researched likely matches, queried several at a time, received multiple requests for my manuscript, and eventually had two different agents interested in my work. Suddenly, I had a choice.

In hindsight, I can now see that in those early days of sending out short stories, I made three critical mistakes.

  1. I sent out too few submissions;
  2. I didn’t follow up on passes with personal notes;
  3. I took the rejections personally.

TOO FEW SUBMISSIONS

I sent my short stories to five journals total, rather than five journals at a time. Simultaneous submissions are nearly universally accepted these days, and there are many journals, both print and on-line, that accept them. But the truth is, many are inundated with submissions, and response time can be long. So it’s a good practice to identify up to a dozen or so journals that would be a good match for your work. It even helps to think of the editors as your audience. In fact, they are. Whatever you do to make their job easier increases your changes of having your work read.

Three simple ways to please a first reader include:

  1. Send only the kind of work their magazine asks for;
  2. Follow their submission guidelines exactly;
  3. Make sure your work is not only your best, but also properly formatted. (I’ve judged contests, and I can tell you: formatting matters).

Because editors are often inundated with submissions, because reading is subjective, and because journals may have specific needs, your submission might not make the cut this time. As soon as you hear from one magazine, send the story out to another. Have a list of suitable places for each story, and keep the story in circulation until either it places or you exhaust your initial list.

FOLLOW UP ON PERSONAL NOTES

Most of my stories were rejected with personal notes from editors who said something positive about my work. Rather than send them another story while my work was fresh in the editor’s mind, I wallowed in self-pity, which felt good at the time. But it’s really self-indulgent and counterproductive.

Especially at the beginning of the submission process, before you have any stories published, it’s good to think of sending out stories as a way of introducing yourself to the journals you’ve identified as a good fit for your voice. Consider submissions as a kind of networking, and when an editor responds, follow up with more work. Editors are human, and relationships matter.

DON’T TAKE REJECTIONS PERSONALLY

Reading is personal; selection for publication subjective. Just because a journal didn’t take your short story doesn’t mean it’s not any good; it really means it’s not right for that journal at that moment in time.

That said, if you strike out a dozen times with one story, read it again. Ask others to read it. And if you ask others for feedback, listen to what they have to say.

One of the hardest and most important skills to develop as a writer is listening to your readers’ responses without defending your work. But that’s the subject of another post.

 

Deborah Lee Luskin started submitting in the snail mail era, and amassed enough rejection slips to wallpaper a small house. Learn more at http://www.deborahleeluskin.com