Guess who’s decided to stop giving a fuck about politics and start concentrating on their writing????
Not me. Definitely not. Whoever that is, I admire and fear them, but they are not me. That being said, I know that I can’t let my fears about the impending collapse of the world stop my work, because then I won’t have enough money to buy food. So we’re back to talking about writing.
Or more accurately, we’re talking about what to do with the writing once you’ve written it. I would like to point out before I get started that sending your finished project out to editors/agents/traditional markets is absolutely, by no means the only way to go. Self-publishing is rising in popularity, and obviously you could decide to not put your work out there at all. However, if you decide to send your work out to agents and editors, here are a few things to remember.
1. ALWAYS read the submission guidelines. I know how simple this sounds, but trust me when I say that failing to pour over those guidelines like the life of your fiction depends on it can fuck you over, because it turns out the life of your fiction does depend on it. Sloppy formatting, “Dear Agent/Editor”-ing the person you’re submitting to, sending unrequested attachments– all of these can kill your story’s chances before it’s even been opened. So do not get yourself rejected for stupid reasons, and do read the guidelines like the religious text most culturally relevant to you.
2. Proofread. Proofread proofread proofread. Another thing that often results in people getting rejected who otherwise might not have is an abundance of typos or poor grammar. If you have trouble with spelling/grammar for whatever reason, I’ve found that it’s often best to ask someone else to read your work just to check for typos and grammar. And if you’re generally pretty good about grammar but are known to skim over typos every now and again, try switching your work into another font and reading through it again before sending it off. When your work is in a different font than you’re used to seeing it in, it’ll change your perspective and help you to catch typos that your eyes may have skimmed over before. Generally, it’s best to re-read like crazy before sending anything out just to make sure that it’s as clean as it can be.
3. Research your market. Aside from reading submission guidelines, there are a few other things you should look up about the market that you’re sending your stuff out to; specifically, you should know how much they pay (in the case of short story markets/editors), who their other clients are, and what kinds of things they tend to like the best. In the case of editors and agents, I would recommend checking out writing forums and the Manuscript Wish List (either the website or #MSWL on Twitter) to learn as much as you can about the person you’re submitting to before sending to them. In the case of short story markets, just a little bit of Googling can help to find out if/how much the market pays and whether they’re trustworthy. Whatever you’re submitting and wherever to, make sure that you know who you’re sending your work to.
Those are the three biggest things to keep in mind when sending your work out. The last thing to remember is to breathe and relax if at all possible. Each rejection brings you closer to your eventual acceptance, and so don’t give up hope. Happy submitting, and whatever happens, remember to just keep writing.