13. Getting Published: Trial by Fire
Page 5 of 9 | Your Work in Print | Manuscript Preparation | Will They Steal My Work? | Learning the Market | Submission |
| Taking Rejection | Taking Acceptance | Electronic Publication | Books & Agents |
Be methodical and organized in the way you submit your work:
Send your story to the editor in a large manila envelope. Regular first-class mail is fine.
- Always include a SASE, a self-addressed stamped envelope, for the manuscript's return, if it's not accepted. Be sure to put enough postage on the return envelope.
- Some people simply include instructions to discard the manuscript if not accepted, but I feel this sends a subtle message to the effect that you don't think your story's good enough even to bother returning. I don't recommend it.
- A cover letter is a good idea, but not actually required.
- If you include one, it should be brief, polite, and to the point: here's my story, I hope you'll like it enough to consider it for publication, and thanks for taking the time to read it.
- Don't try to summarize your story or sell it. The manuscript must sell itself. (Why else did you work so hard on that beginning hook and all the rest?)
- Don't give a long list of your credentials. If you want to say, I'm a student at
or I'm a software engineer at
to give a bit of your background, that's fine.
- Don't make jokes, or brag about how hard you worked on it, or how much your mom liked it.
- Do trust the story to sell itself.
- Make a record of when you sent it and to whom, and then forget it and get to work on your next story.
Generally, you should only submit a given story to one publication at a time, and one story to any given publication at a time. Most editors will not accept simultaneous submissions.
Editors vary greatly in their speed of response. If you haven't heard back within two to three months, send a polite note asking the status of your submission. Chances are your manuscript is buried in a pile, and your note may get it unearthed.
Sometimes it takes a couple of nudges (always polite!) to get a response.