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.


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