Three More Tips for Submitting to Editors

Elevate - The Honor Society Magazine
Three More Tips for Submitting to Editors
Feb 23,2016

 

Last week I shared my first two tips for submitting to editors. Whether you want to publish in academic or literary journals, the process is much the same. Here are three more tips for submitting to editors.

1. Don’t misspell the editor’s name or confuse the editor’s gender

Make sure you spell the editor’s name correctly, and check to see if the editor is a boy or a girl. If I had a dollar for every time I received an email addressed to Mr. Allred I could have bought out Borders and prevented it from going out of business. I’ve seen my name as Allston, Allen, Allan, and every other variant of All— you can think of.  There’s a Meet the Staff page on the literary journal I edit, and my name is there, spelled correctly, and you can see at a glance that my gender pronoun is ‘she.’ It’s the same for other editors—the information is on their journal's websites. Just three weeks ago we received a submission addressed to “Dear Sirs.” There isn’t a single “sir” on the staff of our literary journal. That submission was laughed right into the no-thanks file. Details are important. Really.

2. Proofread your submissions

It’s important to proofread for typos and other boo-boos. It goes back to showing editors, professors, and anyone else you’re submitting to that you’re serious about writing. You’re not sending in something you wrote off the top of your head, and you took the time to read and reread to check for mistakes. Sometimes it’s hard to catch your own mistakes because your eyes see what they expect to see, and they expect to see what you meant to write. Maybe you meant to write ‘she’ instead of ‘the’ but your finger went to the right instead of the left and…you know how it goes. And spellcheck, while a great tool, isn’t perfect.

It’s helpful to have another set of eyes proofread your work for you. Whether it’s a friend with a firm grasp of language and spelling or you hire a professional editor, someone else will often catch those pesky typos before you do, and that will help you create a professional looking draft most editors will be happy to consider.

3. Follow the submission guidelines exactly as stated

As an editor myself, I can’t stress how important this is. I understand that sometimes submission guidelines seem petty, even vindictive—you know, a way to make writers more miserable. What does it matter if it asks for a third person bio? What does it matter if I send in 22 pages instead of 15? Those guidelines exist for a reason, and editors notice if writers don’t follow them. You’re going to have to trust me on this.

The guidelines exist because the editors need some semblance of sanity, a method to our madness, to help us comb through many submissions per edition. I understand that to writers it might not seem like a big deal whether their submissions follow the guidelines or not, but it makes a difference to editors as we put each new edition together.

For writers who want a one-size-fits-all file that will work as a submission for 50 different journals, I’m afraid that’s not likely. It isn’t so hard to send in a strong submission. It boils down to being professional, sending in your best work, and following the guidelines. If you can do those things, the sky is the limit for your literary or academic writing career.

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Three More Tips for Submitting to Editors

 Three More Tips for Submitting to Editors

Three More Tips for Submitting to Editors

Three More Tips for Submitting to Editors

 

Last week I shared my first two tips for submitting to editors. Whether you want to publish in academic or literary journals, the process is much the same. Here are three more tips for submitting to editors.

1. Don’t misspell the editor’s name or confuse the editor’s gender

Make sure you spell the editor’s name correctly, and check to see if the editor is a boy or a girl. If I had a dollar for every time I received an email addressed to Mr. Allred I could have bought out Borders and prevented it from going out of business. I’ve seen my name as Allston, Allen, Allan, and every other variant of All— you can think of.  There’s a Meet the Staff page on the literary journal I edit, and my name is there, spelled correctly, and you can see at a glance that my gender pronoun is ‘she.’ It’s the same for other editors—the information is on their journal's websites. Just three weeks ago we received a submission addressed to “Dear Sirs.” There isn’t a single “sir” on the staff of our literary journal. That submission was laughed right into the no-thanks file. Details are important. Really.

2. Proofread your submissions

It’s important to proofread for typos and other boo-boos. It goes back to showing editors, professors, and anyone else you’re submitting to that you’re serious about writing. You’re not sending in something you wrote off the top of your head, and you took the time to read and reread to check for mistakes. Sometimes it’s hard to catch your own mistakes because your eyes see what they expect to see, and they expect to see what you meant to write. Maybe you meant to write ‘she’ instead of ‘the’ but your finger went to the right instead of the left and…you know how it goes. And spellcheck, while a great tool, isn’t perfect.

It’s helpful to have another set of eyes proofread your work for you. Whether it’s a friend with a firm grasp of language and spelling or you hire a professional editor, someone else will often catch those pesky typos before you do, and that will help you create a professional looking draft most editors will be happy to consider.

3. Follow the submission guidelines exactly as stated

As an editor myself, I can’t stress how important this is. I understand that sometimes submission guidelines seem petty, even vindictive—you know, a way to make writers more miserable. What does it matter if it asks for a third person bio? What does it matter if I send in 22 pages instead of 15? Those guidelines exist for a reason, and editors notice if writers don’t follow them. You’re going to have to trust me on this.

The guidelines exist because the editors need some semblance of sanity, a method to our madness, to help us comb through many submissions per edition. I understand that to writers it might not seem like a big deal whether their submissions follow the guidelines or not, but it makes a difference to editors as we put each new edition together.

For writers who want a one-size-fits-all file that will work as a submission for 50 different journals, I’m afraid that’s not likely. It isn’t so hard to send in a strong submission. It boils down to being professional, sending in your best work, and following the guidelines. If you can do those things, the sky is the limit for your literary or academic writing career.