Ready to send your manuscript out to publishers? Great, good luck.
Sending out submissions can make anyone crazy. It’s a jungle out there with hardly a map or road sign. There are ways to avoid some of the easy pitfalls though.
After years of experience, here are five tips for submitting fiction manuscripts.
Submitting Fiction Manuscripts Tip One: Don’t Fear The Free:
If you’ve read any of my blogs before, you’ll know I’m an advocate for writers getting paid what they’re worth. At the same time, I think it’s critical to equate the value of your work as more than just money.
This fiction writing game is about making fans both in the editorial office and between the covers. You want readers and it is wise to consider whether holding out for money is better than going for exposure.
I wouldn’t argue with someone who says that $250 is a big deal for a story. Heck, I’ll take $50. Ask yourself this though. Does that magazine get any real readers?
Is anyone talking about it?
Check out the #askanagent or #askaneditor hashtags on Twitter. You may re-consider “value” after that.
Submitting Fiction Manuscripts Tip Two: Be Thorough:
There are a lot of sites that list magazines with open submissions. Try Duotrope. Or Ralans. Or the host of others out there (I just bookmarked The Writers Life) teeming with opportunities.
Be sure to have a few of these sites bookmarked. You will want to start the submission process with the biggest picture of the fiction market for your type of work.
Submitting Fiction Manuscripts Tip Three: Avoid The Blanket:
I have an editor friend and she loves to talk about “blanket” submitters.
What makes someone a blanket author? An author who is so thorough in submission that they send everything, everywhere, all the time. No discretion.
Editors read hundreds of submissions daily. You’ll stick out if you draw this kind of attention to yourself. If someone turns down your fishing story once, don’t go back. If someone doesn’t take fishing stories, take it elsewhere.
Submitting Fiction Manuscripts Tip Four: Avoid The Weekends:
Asan addendum to the blanket author advice, try and avoid sending your manuscripts out on the weekends. Really, this is a thing.
Sure, the weekends are when most people have the most time. But take a look at an editor’s email box on Monday morning: it isn’t a pretty site. Make submission a mid-week task. It increases your visibility.
Submitting Fiction Manuscripts Tip Five: Keep Records:
Ask anyone in my world: I keep detailed records. Every single query, poem and manuscript that goes out the digital door, I log and notate and characterize the response.
You don’t have to get crazy, but it’s a good idea to avoid shooting blind. Keep notes. It takes no time and knowing when and where you’ve gone with a piece is critical.