sending words into the world

If writers want to be published, we have to submit work. And yet sending out work is one of the most challenging aspects of writing. I’ve been submitting work for six years (writing for longer), and I still find it hard to do. Sometimes I’m tempted to avoid it. After all (I tell myself )—statistically, rejection is the most likely result.

I recently submitted something I’ve spent a lot of time on, and sending it triggered all the usual crazy, mixed feelings. I thought I’d try to order my thoughts, in case this helps another writer.

Reflections on submitting:

  1. It must be done. If we want to share our writing with others, there’s no escaping this. Yet submitting can be terrifying. We have to steel ourselves and send our work anyway. (We may not want to send our very first efforts. But if a writer has been creating work for more than a year, and wants to be published, it’s probably time to start submitting!)
  2. Timing is everything. Too early and our work is clumsy, full of holes, rough around the edges. Too late and we may fall behind, not make deadlines, or put off submitting forever. How to tell if it’s too early or too late? No one seems to know! We make our best guess and then send.
  3. It’s normal to feel strange emotions after sending. I often feel uneasy. Sometimes I feel hopeful (tempered with common sense—this submission may not be successful, but the next one may be). You may feel a whole range of other emotions. (To avoid feeling overwhelming regret, my advice is to avoid looking at your submitted piece or manuscript after sending. Whenever I do this, I find something I hate!)
  4. Multiple submissions make sense (if allowed). Some journals hang on to work for months, even years. I once had a story with a US literary journal for 14 months, and I’ve heard tales of much longer waits. If the journal or competition allows simultaneous submissions, it’s worth improving the odds by submitting to at least one other market (in my opinion).
  5. Destinations are important. Except in the case of a freaky genius, it’s probably best to send the first submitted poem to a smaller magazine, rather than the Paris Review. There’s no point sending a sci-fi/Western story to a snooty literary magazine that doesn’t publish genre fiction. And it may be unwise to send a literary novel manuscript to an agent who specialises in fantasy and YA. Choosing where we send our words improves the chance of being chosen.

I’m sure there are other aspects to submitting I haven’t considered. After all, I write short fiction only.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


8 thoughts on “sending words into the world

  1. Hard to believe we must submit ourselves to the possibility of rejection Fiona. At least, I always feel as if it is me, not a manuscript that’s been rejected, and that’s why it’s so hard.

  2. Hi Maureen, yes it is difficult, facing rejection. As you say, it’s not us personally being rejected, yet it often feels that way.
    I’m gradually getting used to rejection, so that it stings a lot less than it used to. It still gives me a jolt though & some rejections hurt more than others.
    Here’s to keeping writing anyway, and to writing because we have something we’d like to say (publishing optional). x

    • I know what you mean. I feel exactly the same sometimes – wonder why I’m even trying – especially if it’s been a long time since I got any good news. But this cliche keeps running through my head ‘gotta be in it to win it’, and I know if I don’t submit then I definitely won’t be published or win anything!

      They say the writers who succeed are the ones who persist, so I figure if we’re quite stubborn, keep writing, improving and submitting, we’ll get there in the end! x

      • Perspiration and persistence beat inspiration and inconsistency. We just have to view each rejection as stepping stone on the way to success! personally feel the emotional pain and allow myself to do so, then I re-read the piece and apply any comments if there are any. Did I send it to the wrong place? Am I still happy with it? Does it need a tweak?

        • You’re absolutely right – hard work and persistence are key. And rejections are part and parcel of being a writer.
          I had a rejection just a day or two after posting this, but there was feedback as well and even suggestions for improving it, so that was actually a lovely rejection (if there is such a thing!)
          Revise and re-send is my motto too 😊

    • Thank you Ashley.
      Yes, I know what you mean about rejections – they always give me a brief sting at least, but I can’t think of the last time I got really upset. Depends what the submission is though, as you say. Some rejections hurt more than others.
      Wishing us both some good news in the near future! xx

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s