Posts Tagged ‘editing’

Written by:
Wendi Friend

Now that you’ve written, polished and perfected your piece, you’d like to get it published. This is where one must answer the basic questions of how to submit, where to submit, to whom you’re submitting and when to submit.

There are basic steps to take before attempting to get your work published. First, and perhaps the most arduous task, is research. “But I’ve already researched the material in my story,” you might say; but the kind of research referred to herein is that of the market.

It is imperative to know which publishing companies handle which kinds of material. For example, if you’ve written a story about a fictional character, it would be a waste of time to submit your work to publishers dealing only with non-fiction material. Certain publishers only accept manuscripts on specific topics or with certain cultural backgrounds. I once submitted a picture book text with the theme of imagination; then, I learned that the publisher I submitted to would only accept stories about bi-racial heritage for young readers. I missed my mark not once, but twice with that submission. So, the first step is to find out which publishers are currently accepting the type of material you write. To begin researching publishers, I would strongly recommend that you purchase the most recent issue of Writer’s Market. This book contains a variety of publishers along with summarized guidelines such as “This publisher does not accept unsolicited manuscripts,” or “This publisher does not want poetry”.

Once you have established a list of publishers who may be appropriate for your type of writing, it’s important to find out what books that publisher has recently published and which ones are on their release list for upcoming dates. Publishers like to keep their topics fresh and unique. I once submitted a poem for children to a magazine for children on the topic of respect for the earth. The publisher wrote me back personally saying that she’d have loved to print my story, but that they had recently published a piece on the same subject matter; although different style. Regardless of the quality of your work, it may be rejected simply due to bad timing. To avoid wasting time, energy and postage, familiarize yourself with the “book lists” of publishers you’re considering submitting to.

Before actually submitting your stories to these publishers, take the time to request and review the available publisher’s guidelines. Certain publishers have specific formats for their submissions; and if yours doesn’t fit that format, it will be returned without consideration. For example, one publisher may request a synopsis (short summary) and three sample chapters of your work. Publishers may have specific word limits to abide by. If your manuscript is received in full, or is 1,000 words over the required limit, it becomes clear to the publisher that you did not investigate the needs of the publisher prior to your submission. Most likely your manuscript will be returned.

With a specified list of well-researched publishers, you are now ready to begin the process of submitting your work. The first step in doing this is sending a query. A query is a brief letter asking permission to send your material. Many publishers will return manuscripts unopened if permission to send the work has not been granted. In your query, remain as simple and professional as you can. State only you’re writing experience, writing goals or other experience that relates to your work. For example, if you’ve written an article regarding gardening based on fifteen years experience in a green house, this is information you’d want to include. You do not want to present yourself as inexperienced or “hopeful” in your query. Include a brief summary of what you’ve written, and include a self addressed stamped envelope (SASE). Without a return envelope, you may not receive a reply. If you’re submitting through traditional mail, it’s suggested that you use plain white 25lb. bond paper and plain white envelopes. Fancy frills or pretty stationary is usually a red flag to publishers, and they are likely to bypass your envelope for the one who followed format.

If the query is replied to with a request for a manuscript, include this information in your cover letter, and mark “requested” on the outside of your envelope below the return address. As with any article, when submitting a manuscript, use plain white paper and a folder large enough that you do not need to bend or fold your material. It is often suggested that you do not clip or staple pages together, but have them each numbered and labeled with your full name and the title of the piece. Include a SASE with enough postage for return should the publisher wish to return the manuscript to you. Keep a well organized record of who you submit to and when.

Once you’ve made it this far in your endeavors, the only things left are to wait, and expect rejection. Rejection for previously unpublished writers is inevitable. My first year of submitting, I had received more than two hundred rejection letters before receiving the first acceptance. Dr. Seuss received so many rejections that he ended up self-publishing his books – so there’s proof that rejection does not necessarily reflect on the quality of the writer or his words. Expect to be rejected and keep going.

Trying to get your words into print is far from being an easy or quick task. You must know in your heart that this is what you want and you must stop at nothing to get there. Spend time in libraries, book stores and read books designed to assist you on your journey.

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