December 19, 2006

On Making Submissions

I run a little literary ezine called Words Words Words for which I receive many submissions of poetry, stories, articles, etc.

Well I thought I had seen the worst of the worst when it comes to bad submission etiquette, but after what I received today, I can honestly say this particular one tops them all.

A forwarded message arrives in my mailbox complete with six or seven other publications tucked into the recipient box.

Rule number one
: never submit to multiple publications all in one email - it is unprofessional and insulting, and your submission will probably not get accepted because the editor can see that the work will probably appear elsewhere.This also tells the editor that you're not interested in their publication, you're just interested in getting your work out to as many places as possible in hopes that someone will grab.

In this message I found a poem. No introduction, no hello-my-name-is, or any other information - just a poem.

Needless to say I didn't end up reading that poem. My publication is too busy supporting writers who actually take the time to say "hello I'd like to submit so and so for publication..." to be able to investigate someone who could care less.

Rule number two
: always include an introduction or query with your submission (most editors ask for this even before you get to send your work to them), telling the editor who you are, what you have for them, and why it is worth their time.

All of this may seem petty but when it comes down to it, it can be the deciding factor in whether or not you are published.

Editors are busy people and some aren't as leniant as others. Your submission will be tossed out if the editor has to do too much work just to find out what you're submitting.

So I ended up sending this person an email explaining to them why I could not accept their submission at this time.

If they decide to take my advice and try again in the future, I think they will find better luck in getting their work accepted.

Hallelujah to the writers who take the time to query!

Editorially yours,


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