From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, July 11, 2011

Why You Should Not Be Afraid to Submit

All of us have the Big Project we're working on, a novel that we expect to have to submit to someone at some point. An agent or editor, or maybe even just readers. I want to talk about smaller stuff today.

Those poems and short stories you wrote in college or in between novels. That are sitting in a file on your computer, waiting to see the light of day. The more writer type people I talk to, the more surprised I am at how few of them submit those poems and stories. I always kind of assumed that submitting was just what you did after you finished a piece, but it doesn't seem like everyone thinks that way.

Am I wrong? Maybe so, but still, there are for sure very talented writers not sending out their littler children into the world, for one reason or another. I'm not saying that you should send out everything you've ever written, but I definitely think its worth taking out some of those pieces, polishing them up, and sending them out.

Why not? Chances are you'll get rejected, but so what? Dory gives us a good mantra for the submission process..."just keep submitting, just keep submitting." Lit magazine rejection has absolutely no bearing on your self-worth or even your true talent as a writer, even though it can feel like it does. But seriously, what better way to get your work read? Isn't that the point? Maybe you do have reasons for not submitting, but please, don't let that reason be fear. Or laziness. Poetry and the short story are fantastic, beautiful forms to work in. Then submit, like you would a novel. I mean really...why not?

Next question, where to submit? Obviously that depends on the piece, but I can try and help you out here. I use Duotrope and New Pages, both directories of literary magazines, and they both do a great job of helping you find the right magazine to submit to.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree that submitting is just a natural part of the process? Do you have a system for submitting your work?

Sarah Allen


  1. It's funny, I thought everyone submitted too. I look for different types of contests and magazines that require different length stories. It is a good way to get experience writing a variety of things. And what is the worst that can happen - you don't get accepted. But what is the best - published and paid!

    Thanks for the links. I've heard of Duotrope but not New Pages. I'll check that out.

  2. Definitely a part of the process. Not always fun, but necessary in order to grow. :)

  3. I submit things that I feel are completed, but I have a lot on my drive right now that are half-finished or sketches of ideas. I'm glad I have them, and sometimes I return to them for ideas, but I would rather spend my time working on my Big Project or smaller projects that I feel have more promise. I've submitted two short stories and have had them both rejected, so at some point I'm going to give them another once-over and see if there's anything I've learned since writing the story that I could then apply to make it better.

  4. I agree with you. There's no point in writing if it isn't just to try and get it out there. We must aspire to be published I feel and maybe a lucky few will actually make it.

  5. Just discovered your blog. I like your positive outlook. Yes, submitting is part of the process. It was easy for me at first. My first three submissions were accepted. Since then, I have faced a lot of rejection. Funny, I feel even more like a writer now!

    I do delay submitting. Is it fear? I prefer to think of it as waiting for a moment of comfort, when I can handle possible rejection. As I work away excitedly on a bigger project, I use break time to submit other writing. A rejection won't sting (as much) and an acceptance? Well, who doesn't want that!

    Gregory Walters

  6. It took me a very long time to become confident enough in my writing to start submitting a few of my short stories.

    Had one that was rejected at least a dozen times before it was accepted last month.

    I use Duotrope quite a bit and in fact, it was through them that I found an e-zine to publish my work.

    I'm not a big fan of New Pages because for writing they focus exclusively on literary journals, which if you write stuff like I do (very non-literary as per their definition, but more experimental/fantasy) you'll have problems trying to find a home for your stuff.

  7. Yes, I completely agree! Submit submit submit! I had a short story I am going over now to see if I've polished it enough to RE-submit. I am really big on writing scenes in my head that I'd like to use later, and as always, they usually don't get used. So, I've been going back and making them into video poetry that I post on YouTube. I like to call it, "Recycled Creativity."

    But putting yourself out there is simply part of the process and a necessary task to being a writer!

  8. I have tons of poems on my hard drive, and I try to write a short story a week. The thought of submitting it has never occurred to me. *hangs head guiltily* I always thought that novelist just submitted novels, but that's not always true, is it?

  9. I don't get afraid, but do have to overcome the lazies, and the over-optimism. I send it to Penguin and am genuinely surprised when I don't hear back straight away :)
    <a href=">Wagging Tales - Blog for Writers</a>

  10. So long as you're submitting the best material it's a fine mantra but you also have to keep in mind that most publishers and agents keep track of who have submitted to them and why they rejected them. The more you put yourself out there the more you have to concern yourself with knowing that you can be potentially burning bridges too. Great post.


    That's my only advice on submitting. Learn to write well, to submit well and in the end, find a place where you think your work will fit.

  12. "Just keep submitting, just keep submitting..."

    Hehehehehehehehe! Thanks for that!

  13. I was and still am SO in need of this reminder
    I get consistent encouragement but let unnecessary anxiety take over and doubts creep in but NO MORE ! i hope to start a blog soon :)
    Thanks for the reminder/boost
    i'll be browsing through as i luckily stumbled upon this blog
    i like what i see already


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