How to Get Published: A Step-by-Step Guide to Submitting Your Writing | Rachel Mindell | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

How to Get Published: A Step-by-Step Guide to Submitting Your Writing

teacher avatar Rachel Mindell, Content Strategist at Submittable

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Submission Landscape


    • 3.

      Choosing the Right Pieces


    • 4.

      Choosing the Right Publications


    • 5.

      Writing Your Cover Letter & Bio


    • 6.

      Submitting Your Work


    • 7.

      Managing the Process


    • 8.

      Dealing with Rejection


    • 9.

      Handling Acceptance


    • 10.

      Final Thoughts


    • 11.

      Explore More Classes on Skillshare


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Eager to publish your writing, but wondering where to start?

Join Submittable’s Rachel Mindell for a step-by-step guide to getting your work published. Packed with insights from Rachel’s own experience as a writer and editor, this class will give you a behind-the-scenes look at how to submit your work for publication in a magazine, literary journal, or website. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Select and prepare your strongest pieces
  • Find and research publications that fit your writing
  • Write and format your cover letter and bio
  • Track and learn from your submission history

Plus, download and follow along with Rachel’s submission checklist for everything you need to get started immediately.

Whether you’re new to submitting your work or a seasoned writer hoping to streamline your process, this class will help you discover new confidence, send your writing into the world, and get one step closer to seeing your name in print!


Submittable connects individuals and organizations to do extraordinary work together. Millions of writers, photographers, filmmakers, and other professionals use Submittable’s platform to search for and submit content to brands and publishers.

Create a free account to search for opportunities and submit your work at

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Rachel Mindell

Content Strategist at Submittable


Rachel Mindell is a poet, teacher, and tech-groupie living in Tucson, Arizona. She works as a Writing the Community Resident and Poetry Out Loud Coach for the UA Poetry Center and is Senior Editor for Submittable's Marketing Team.

She holds an MFA in Poetry and an MA in Literature from the University of Montana (poems on addiction, spice, paranormals; lit thesis entitled 'What is a Hole Made of,' regarding queerness and melancholy in Anne Carson). In other lives, she was a waitress, bartender, editorial whatnot, karaoke-file, book festival director, and freelance writer. 

See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: I love writing because it's surprising. I love not knowing the outcome. Hi, my name is Rachel Mindell, I'm a poet and I also teach poetry. My work has appeared in over 40 literary journals both online and in print. I've worked as an editor and so I've seen the back end of the submission process. I've been a teacher and I've helped students to submit their work. Then through my work at Submittable, I've become really familiar with the literary markets and how writers can navigate the submission process to succeed. Today's class will focus on how to submit your creative work for publication. You can't control whether a publication accepts your work, but you can increase your odds of being accepted by following the steps we'll cover in this class. We'll talk about picking the right pieces to send out, deciding on a market, how to create a cover letter and a bio statement that will go with your submission, how to manage the process of where you've sent out your work, and then also how to handle rejection and prepare for acceptance. The first time I got an acceptance it was so exciting. If you've ever harbored a secret wish to be a published writer, this class can lead you there. Let's get started. 2. The Submission Landscape: Before we get into the details about submitting your work, it's important to get a lay of the land to understand the basics. What is a submission? Who can submit? Why would they want to? So in this context referred to as submission, we're talking about a piece of writing or maybe a couple of pieces of writing that a writer would send out to a literary organization for potential publication. Anyone can submit their work. It's especially a good time to submit if you've been spending time focusing on your writing, honing your craft, revising a specific case as good as you can possibly make it. That's your best time. Submitting your work is the first step towards getting your work published. Getting your work published can be wonderful for a number of reasons. First, it can help you bring your writing to a new audience, it can help to boost your confidence and motivates you to continue to write, it's a great way to engage in the conversation, the contemporary conversation that's happening around run riding around literature on letters, it can also be important for you professionally. If you'd like to you one day publish a book for example, having publications indicates that your work has received recognition and then also you're willing to hustle, and you believe in your work enough to send it out and work to get your words read. Today, we're going to focus on submitting shorter work like short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, flash fiction, and then we'll talk a little bit about submitting manuscripts. But we won't be talking about the type of work you might try to find an agent for like if you were submitting a novel or a memoir, that's a separate process. We're going to talk about work that you can submit yourself directly. So for these types of submissions, you'd be sending your work to literary journals, magazines, small presses, anthology or book projects, maybe prizes or contests. Because there are so many different kinds of opportunities for submitting your work and being published, selecting the right markets is really important, and when we refer to markets we're talking about these different publication opportunities. One of the things I hear the most from people who are submitting their work for the first time, is a question around submission fees and why an organization would charge you to send work in. There are a number of responses to this, it really comes down to looking at the market itself and how they use their fee. A lot of organizations will tell you this. It can go towards their publishing process, it can go towards supporting their staff, it can go towards putting their website or their social media, it can go towards their submission management software. Bottom line for most organizations, this is a labor of love and submission fees help them run their organization and stay afloat. That side there are potentially scummy markets and today, we'll be helping you decide which organizations are quality. The first thing we will talk about, is selecting the work you'd like to submit. We'll talk about looking at the work you already have, things to consider in creating new work, thinking about revision, and how to know when a piece is ready to be sent out. Next, we'll talk about selecting markets. Will introduce you to different types of markets, some tools and resources that can help you search and select, as well as best practices for choosing the right market for your work. Next, we'll talk about creating your cover letter and bio. These are an important part of your submission and when you've completed this step, we'll combine the cover letter and bio with your submission to send it out. We'll talk about managing the submission process, keeping track of where you've sent your work, and then also how to deal with handling both rejection and acceptance. When you're excited about something you've written, you may want to submit it right away. But from my own experience, I've found that if you follow each of these steps, your odds for acceptance will be a lot higher. Now, that you've got a sense for what the course will cover, let's jump into selecting the writing you're going to submit. 3. Choosing the Right Pieces: So we'll start by talking about how to choose the writing you're going to submit. This is one of the most important parts of the process. So you want to send out your strongest work, and perhaps you work in a specific genre, or perhaps you only write short stories, you only write poetry. It is good to know that both short stories and poetry are the most submitted types of work. So if you have a wide variety and perhaps you could submit creative non-fiction, you might have a little more luck in that market, just because there are less people submitting essays. But that said, if you're not an essay writer, you should go with what your best at. So I think a good strategy when you're starting to submit is to send out your strongest work, and then also be working to build up more pieces that you could potentially send out, and constantly working on your writing. One good approach is to use a specific call for submissions at a prompt for your writing. So for example, if an organization is looking for around Halloween you'll see a lot of spooky calls, use one of those as a prompt for your writing. Then you'll have a piece of writing you could submit to that market, but maybe you'll have a piece of writing you can send somewhere else as well. So we'll be showing you some tools that you could use to find these special class for submission, and we get a little further into the class and talk about selecting submission markets. Another way to generate new material that you might want to submit would be to take a writing class, that will both help you hone your skills, and also create a number of new pieces. Literary markets receive a high volume of submissions, and it's possible that your work will be read quickly. That's why it's very important to have your first line, your first page, your first poem be as strong as it can possibly be. In terms of poetry, I would say that would be your first and second poem. For prose, that's the first or second page. You really want to capture your reader from go to make sure that they continue to read. Not saying they won't read the full submission, but that's when you have the most attention. I would say paying some more attention to your ending or the last piece that you include. You may be skimmed. So if someone's starts and it's strong, maybe they want to flip to the back, and they want to see where you end up. If hat that's also strong, although you'll get a closer read. Selecting a piece can be different depending on the genre that you're writing in. For poetry, I usually recommend selecting three to five poems. It's great if they speak to each other slightly, but that's not necessarily required. They don't need to be of a certain theme, but I would read them through and see if the process of reading them next to each other is a pleasing process. What usually happens with journals is that they'll select maybe one or two or maybe three. It's rare that all five will get picked up. So I wouldn't submit poems that rely upon each other, that have to live as a group, but ones that are friendly as a group. In terms of thinking about ordering for poems, I go back to thinking about or meter with limited time. So I want to start with my strongest, and then move to my second strongest. My second strongest might either be second or fifth, in a packet of five. I want all the poems to be strong, of course, but I start with my favorite. So depending on the organization you're submitting your short story to, the guidelines may vary. I've seen calls for short stories around 2,000 words to all the way up to 10,000 words. I think 5,000 or 6,000, is a nice range to aim for. But regardless of the length, you're bound to find a market that will work for your short story. Because it is a short story and not a novel, you need your narrative to evolve pretty quickly. For action and conflict to enter quickly, you need strong characters. You just want to keep in mind that your reader or editor is receiving a high volume of submissions, and you want your submission to stand out. If you're submitting creative nonfiction, there's a bit of a wider range in terms of how many words different markets are looking for. You could see places that are looking for very short essays, almost like a flash style that would be between 500 and 1,000 words, all the way up to maybe 12,000 words. There's a much bigger range. So I would say write to the length that feels appropriate for your piece, and then seek out a market that's looking for exactly that niche. For essays and creative nonfiction, there's such a wide range of types of essays and focus that you could really go two ways. If you're drawn to writing, for example, on more research, research focused essay, then you can after the fact look for markets that will publish that. Otherwise, if you have a topic you want to write on, but you're open in terms of length or structure, you could find a couple of markets that would be a good fit, and then try to write around their guidelines as a prompt. Flash fiction is very, very short-form fiction. I've seen flash that is 50 words to tell a story. It could be a couple 100 words, 500 words, up to 1,000 words usually. Flash is all about concision in language and being able to convey your idea quickly. You can also see flash prose, mini essays. Sometimes, they're just referred to as flash. When you're sending out flash fiction, some places will accept only one piece. Some will take a couple of pieces of flash fiction from you because it's shorter. I think of manuscripts in two groups. There are chapbooks, and then there are full-length manuscripts. Chapbooks tend to run anywhere between 15-30 or maybe 35 pages. They can be of poetry or of prose. Sometimes, they're handmade, staple bound, they might look a little bit like a zine. They can also be produced through a traditional press. A full-length manuscript usually starts at around 50 pages, 55 pages for poetry, and go up to several 100 pages. It is a full-length work, you'll be submitting this type of manuscript to maybe an indie press or a book prize. As you're looking through your work and selecting writing you'd like to submit, this is a great time to consider revising. So revision literally means to see again. One way to do that is to put your work aside after you've written it, and return to it after a period of time with fresh eyes. This is something I really like to do with my own writing, although you can get really excited and you want to submit it right away. It's good to give it a couple days, and then come back to it to see what you think. When I'm revising, I really liked to read my work aloud. Reading it aloud gives me a sense for the sound, but it also helps me catch errors. When I revise, I always like to print out my work. That way, I can catch errors that I wouldn't see just looking at a screen, you tend to read quicker on a screen and tend to skim. So I like to print out and I like to read aloud word for word. One of the best ways to revise is to get feedback from other writers either within a formal writing workshop, or classroom setting, or just through friends. I think the key there is to be specific about the type of feedback you're looking for, rather than do you like it or not like it, is this working? How did this section make you feel? Was this character interesting? On the more specific, you can be with people will also be helpful for them to give you the feedback that you need. There's no hard and fast rule for revision in terms of how much time you spend revising versus how much time you spend writing. I think you should go with your gut. I like to think of revision more as an experiment than as a process with an ultimate end goal. So even if you've revised a piece to a certain point, I save drafts going up to that, so that I could always revert to an earlier version if I prefer. I never feel like a piece of writing is fully done. I always feel like you can continue to make changes on it. But just because it's not fully done forever, doesn't mean you can't send it out and have people read it and enjoy it. I think it's important that if your piece was to be published exactly as you submitted it, you would feel good about it. Although many organizations will allow you to make edits, and will send you a proof before your work is published. Sometimes that's not the case. The more revisions you want to do after the fact when something has been accepted, can cause a hold-up for the publication schedule. So you should really feel like the work is ready as it is, and that you would want an audience to see it. If you have a peace of mind that you think you'd like to submit, go ahead and use that throughout this class to help you apply some of the ideas. If you don't, that's okay, these ideas will still work for you. Now, that we've talked through selecting a piece to submit, we'll talk about how you can find the right markets to send out your work to. 4. Choosing the Right Publications: Now that you've selected the writing you'd like to submit, you'll have the best odds for getting your work accepted by being smart about the markets you select. Because of the number of choices that you have here, this step can be overwhelming and sometimes this is where people stop. While some markets do publish a combination of both solicited and unsolicited work in their issues, we will be focusing primarily on organizations that accept unsolicited submissions. The New Yorker is a well regarded print magazine that's been around since 1925. They accept unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, and cartoons. They are a paying market. It's free to submit to the New Yorker, and you can submit using Submittable. StorySouth is another example of a market. This is exclusively online. They're an online journal that publishes poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that focuses on what they call the New South. They also publish visual arts. It's free to submit. They take submissions twice a year from one and half months. They are non-paying markets and they do encourage submissions from emerging writers. Another example of a market would be Split Lit magazine. They're both a combination of a print and an online journal. They published online monthly, and in print annually. They offer a tiered submission fee structure, free submissions, tip jar submissions, and expedited submissions, where they'll review your submission more quickly. So those are just three examples from thousands of different markets you can choose from. So next, we'll take a look at some of the tools that can help you really dig into market research. One is submittable tool, it's called Discover. It's inside of your submittable account once you create one, which is free to create. You can search by genre, you can search by deadline, fee, or no fee. With the Discovery tool you can access thousands of different submission opportunities in markets. Another tool I like is from Entropy Magazine, and they do a list call where to submit. It comes out every three months. The nice thing about this listing is that it divides the opportunities into categories. For example, it lists presses that are looking to publish full-length work, then it will list chapbooks, it will list prizes, and it will list General Magazine, and literary journal opportunities separately. The websites of both New Pages, and Poets and Writers, offer comprehensive listings of creative opportunities and markets that are searchable in a number of ways and very easy to use. So there are a number of factors to consider when selecting markets. You'll want to think about whether the journal is print, or online, or both. Whether the journal pays, whether they charge a fee to submit, does the style of the writing they publish and their aesthetic match your own style, do they accept simultaneous submissions or no, do they have an active social network that will help them promote your work, what kinds of writers do they publish, and is the style of those writers similar or compatible with your own. Once you've selected a market and you want to take a closer look at it, first step is to read most or all of it if you can. If you're not able to access the archives or read any of the work that they publish, for example because it's only printed, there are ways around this. You can look at the authors that they published, and find that author's other work to see if it might be suitable in style for your own. You could do an image search to see if you can find people that perhaps have taken a photo of their published work and posted it online to see if you can access work that way. Most journals will also tell you a little bit about what they're looking for, the style and anesthetic they prefer. So if there's no way for you to access archives or read previously published material, those guidelines would be good to pay attention to. Personally, I prefer to submit to organizations that are transparent about how they're using the fee that I'm paying to submit to them. I'm also wary of organizations that only run contests and don't publish any content otherwise. If an organization is newer, I can't see any archives, I see no publication history, or previous winners of their contest, or they have a very high fee, I might hold off on submitting to them right away and check back later to see the kind of work that they publish. If you're submitting shorter work, you might want to consider whether the journal publishes only in your genre. For example, only short stories or whether they publish a mix of genres, poetry, nonfiction, fiction. There are benefits to going both ways. If you're submitting to a journal that only publishes in your genre, it's nice to be exposed to new writers that are also writing in your genre, and be appreciated by those that write a similar style. On the other hand, if you're looking at journals that publish a variety of genres, again, it'll depend on how frequently they're publishing in terms of how difficult or not it would be for you to be published there. But then your work will sit in conversation with writers from other genres and you're exposing new readers to your work as well. So for manuscript submissions, you want to be extremely thoughtful mainly because the fee to submit your work is going to be a lot higher. Most manuscripts submission run between $15 to $30 and above for each manuscript you send out. In a manuscript selection process, a guest judge will often be incorporated. You should know that the guest judge may not be doing all of the initial reading, often editors from the press or publication will be the ones doing the initial reading, and then they'll pass off finalists to the final judge. So make sure you're familiar with the style of that press and what they tend to appreciate and publish. Then you also want to be familiar with the judge's work to make sure your writing is the style of writing that they'd appreciate. So as I'm searching for markets, when I find one that I like, I like to keep a list. I like to note if they have a deadline coming up, if they have a fee that they charge, and if they have any specific guidelines I should be aware of. For example, they only want three poems per submission packet or they want five at a time. If you're using submittable discovery tool, you can also create your list of places to submit inside the tool, and I'll show you. Here you have just a list of opportunities in submittabale across organizations. But let's say I want to look for short stories. You'll see short story as a search tag. Let's say I want to change it, and I'd like to look for poetry instead. So we have a deadline coming up today. That's too soon for me. Let's say I want a couple days. So I'm scrolling down, and I see Rigorous. This looks interesting to me. So I'm going to click into it and get a little bit about the guidelines here. They show me what other types of work they publish. Rigorous is a great example, I happen to know that they only publish work by writers of color. But if I were just looking at this page, I wouldn't necessarily know that. If you click on the header, it will take you to their website. You can see here they tell you a little bit more about what they're about. But this is an important example of why it's always great to at least visit the website and make sure you understand what types of work the journal publishes. So I'm going to take a look at Cahoodaloodaling. So they are looking for poetry of witness, which I think is a good fit for my work. I'm going to take a look at their website though and just want to make sure this would be a good fit for me. I like the aesthetic of their websites. I see that they are active on social media. I'm going to see if I can access older work, it looks like I can. You can see their issues. It looks like each of their issues is available online. They've got 27 issues. So they've been around for a little while. I will probably take a look at some of this work if I decide that it's a good fit. When I'm back in the Discover tool, I can save this. So it's part of now a saved list that I'm creating with organizations that I'd like to submit to. At the top of the screen where it says saved, I can click on Saved, and I'll see a list of my saved organizations and they'll be organized by deadline. If I have already created a draft for the organization, it'll show, and also if I've already submitted it'll show. One other option in looking at this list is to save not only a opportunity, but also follow the organization. So you can do that by clicking into an opportunity and selecting follow. If I go to my following list, it'll show me all of the organizations that I follow even if they don't have live opportunities. So to recap. If I'm using the discover feature, or really any tool, I'll start by doing a quick scan. At this point, if I can narrow my search criteria in anyway, I will. At this point, I'm looking through if I don't know any organization and I don't see anything that precludes me from submitting, for example with Lumina, it says New York City, I'm not in New York City. With Rigorous, I know that I'm not a good fit there. So if I see something where it could potentially be a fit, I'll click in, I will scan through the guidelines, see if there isn't anything that's precluding you from submitting there. I'll visit the websites, and I'll look through the archives, I'll look at the general aesthetic, I'll look to see if they have a social media presence, I'll check again for more of the guidelines to see if there's a fee, if it's a paying market. If it looks like a good fit for me, then I'll save it. I will save it to my opportunity lists, and then I might also follow the organization for future. If you have a piece in mind, I challenge you to use one of the tools we've mentioned and find free markets that might be a good fit. Now that we've talked about selecting what you'll submit and learning about the markets where you'll submit it, let's talk about writing a cover letter and a bio statement. 5. Writing Your Cover Letter & Bio: Before you submit, you want to create a cover letter that includes a third-person bio statement. Cover letters vary depending on the type of work you're sending out, but most contain a couple of key elements. In your cover letter, you should include the date, the name of the editor and the organization you're submitting to, the title of the work you're submitting, whether your work is simultaneous submission or not, and you close with your name and a third-person bio. I've created a couple of cover letter templates that I'm happy to share with you. Please be aware these are templates and they're designed for you to customize, I would never send these letters as is. So let's take a look. My first example template is for a poetry submission. You'll see that I began by writing to editors by name and the organization name. So I'll look for editor's names on a masthead page, which is usually either listed as masthead or listed as contact us or about us. If they don't list your genre, for example, you're submitting fiction and they don't list fiction editors, they just list a managing or general editor, then I'll write to the highest editor. I have spaces here, poem one, poem two, poem three for each of my poem's names. I tell them that it's a simultaneous submission. I thank them for their time. I sign off with my full name and third-person bio. So a simultaneous submission is when you're sending the same piece of work to multiple places at the same time for consideration. Now, I'll show you what that will actually look like. Here's an example of my poetry cover letter. You'll see I've addressed the editors individually and referred to the journal name. I've included the titles of five of my poems. I've left the other part as it was, and I told them about the simultaneous submission, I thank them, I said my name and here I've included my bio in the third-person. Let's look at a couple of other cover letter templates. If you're sending out prose, the formula is basically the same, but it's common practice to include a word count, so you see I've included that in my first line. If I'm sending out a manuscript, same format except that I will include the title or book name. Here, I have a cover letter for when I'm resubmitting to an organization after they've sent me a tiered rejection. By tiered rejection, I'm referring to a case where they said for example, this work doesn't work for us now, but we'd love to consider more of your work in the future. They have encouraged you to come back and send them more work. So here, ideally, if the editor is still with the journal, I'll respond to that same editor who wrote to me before, and I start by thanking them for encouraging me to send more work, and then I follow the same format as before. If I have a personal connection to the journal, if I'm a regular subscriber and avid reader, I specially enjoyed a story or maybe I met some of the editors of conference, if I have something genuine to say, I will include that in my letter. However, I urge you not to create a template around that because it's easy to see through. My last example here is for a post submission. If you're sending out a submission via mail, it will take a standard letter format. So, on left aligned at the top of the page, you'd have your contact address, you'd also have the date, you would again address the editor by name, and you would follow the similar format there. The difference would be including the contact information. Depending on the format that you're submitting your work in, I often include the date, but if you're using for example, submittable that makes the date clear on your submission, it's not necessarily mandatory. Again, I included the editor's name, and then after that, the letter follows the same format. Although you don't have to include your address and the date on digital submission, some people still do like to do it, so it's optional. For signing off, I think it's nice to be friendly, polite, I use all best, but you could also use sincerely or thanks. Your cover letter is just an introduction to you and your work. Your submission is really the most important part, so you want to keep it brief, be courteous. Then, also, customize it if you can. So, in that case, be sure to spell editors' names correctly and address them in the right way. So your biographical statement which is often referred to as a bio is basically a description of who you are in third person. Usually, fairly short, about three to four sentences long. Details you might want to include. If you have publications, or education, or words that are related to publishing, those are great to start with. If you don't, you can also include your personal experience, education, career, and where you live. So, I'll show you a couple of my bios, couple of different examples. You may at times be required to submit a longer bio, and I have an example here. This would be if you're applying for maybe your residency, a fellowship, or you're having a book publication. So here, I've just flash out some of details, I've included a little more about things that I've done. But I would never really go any longer than this. So in my mind, better bios are the ones that are shorter, that include important information but not a full life history, and those that clearly value the organization that they're submitting to. So, some people can do a more casual bio or a more friendly bio. I like to keep mine a little more professional because I feel like it speaks to my respect for my own work. Occasionally, I will customize my bio, especially if I'm submitting to an organization for example, that has a call for under-represented writers. I will include that I'm identified that I am female. Again, this is where your research can come in to customize your submission. Including a cover letter and bio is standard in most submissions. Occasionally, an organization will say they don't want it and that's fine, but it's great to have it prepared. Some organizations will require it, so it's not an option to scat. However, I recommend just doing it even if it's not required because it shows the organization that you've done your research and you take your work seriously. Now that we've talked about cover letters and bios, the big moment is here, you're ready to submit. 6. Submitting Your Work: At this point, you have the writing you'd like to submit, you have the market's you'd like to send your work to you, you have your cover letter, and your bio, and now it's time to submit your work. So you'll want to select the market that you want to start with, where your first submission will go to, and then you're going to format your submission. So you want go to the organization's website and check out their guidelines. First, you want to determine how they accept submissions. Do they use a system like submittable or another submission management system? Do they accept via email? Do they accept via mail? Because that will affect how you format your cover letter. So I'll show you an example of putting together submission. I'm going to put together a poetry submission for submittable. So I'll give an example here. This is the list of organizations that I'm interested in submitting in a submittable. I'm going to start at the top. I'm going to go with Projector Magazine. I'm going to go to their website and their submissions page so that I can see their guidelines. They're looking for between one to five pieces of previously unpublished work, so I have a packet of five poems. A single poem can't be longer than three pages, that works for me. I'm going to go to their submittable page, go to poetry. They're reminding me of the guidelines here at the top again. So the first thing they want, is the title for this submission. I usually include all of my poem names in the title. So I'm going to pull up my cover letter, which I've drafted already for them that includes a couple of the editor's names and the journal name, and I'm going to copy and paste the list of my poems. That will be my title, and we can go to the end. So if they look at it they see as the title of the list of my five poems. I'm going to copy and paste my cover letter into submittable. You'll notice that I used italics in my bio statement that didn't transfer over to submittable, that's okay. Editor is using this software know that the italics don't transfer over, so you don't need to worry about it. So I've got the title of my submission here and my cover letter, and now I'm going to include the attachment that has my poems. I'll just show you what that looks like. So I've saved my poems as a PDF, PDF is always my preference. With PDF because it's a photo file you know that your writing will appear exactly as you see it to them as well, like I never know what computer they're going to be opening it on. With the use doc or docx, they may have a different version. You also in submittable a PDF will appear exactly as it does to you, but a Doc might appear a little differently. So I have my poem as a PDF. Poems start on their own page. So here's my first poem. Then you see my poem ends at half the page. But I wait until the next page to start my next poem. I had one poem that's two pages long. You'll see I've got some special formatting in this poem, which is another reason I prefer to use PDF whenever possible to preserve that formatting. So luckily they do allow PDFs. Okay. I have named that projector with my last name as well, going to attach it. Now, here they charge a $3 fee if you submitted with a submittable before they will save your payment information. So I'm going to go ahead and click "Submit". All right. You'll see that I get a success page here. It tells me the submission went through. But I also will get a confirmation in my e-mail from Projector Magazine that tells me my submission has been received. Now, if I go into my submittable account and I go to my submissions list, I can see my submission to Projector Magazine that was sent in on the 10th of January, got the submission title here. This shows me that it was received. If I want to review what I did, make sure I feel good about everything, I can see the content of my submission. Good things to keep in mind when you're submitting, the guidelines are key. Journals are telling you exactly what they want to receive and the format they want to receive it in. For example, if a journal prefers that you do not include your name in a submission, or if they want a total page count, if they want you to include headers and footers, if they don't, if they have any specifications about fonts, if they have any font sizes that they prefer, the standard is 12.1 inch margins, times New Roman is always a safe bet. But I'm also going to include a list of fonts that are supported in submittable. In terms of naming your submission, that's really up to you. Having worked as an editor, I find it easiest to have the name of the work that I'm reviewing listed as the submission title rather than the author's name, because that gives me less information. But unless the organization tells you specifically how to name your submission, how to name your attachment or how to title this submission itself, it's up to you. So my own process around how frequently I submit depends on how frequently I'm generating new work. So usually, I wait until I have a batch of five poems that I feel really good about. Then I'll go into the research phase and look for probably 10 markets that I think are a good fit for those five poems and then I'll send them out. Then it may take, maybe I'm writing a lot, it takes a month four or five new poems that I really like maybe it takes three months, six months four five new poems that I like. But once I hit that mark again, then I'll look for new markets and I'll submit again. But in the meantime, then I will have been getting probably some rejections on that other work. So once I've amassed a batch of maybe 20 or 25 poems that I've sent out in these batches of five, then I'll go back through and I'll create submission packets with ones that haven't been picked up yet. During your research process when you're getting to know these markets, you're reading the work, maybe you're sharing it, maybe you're connecting some of these writers on social media, that's all part of being a good literary citizen and being part of the conversation. But it will also help improve your writing and improve your odds of acceptance for submissions. Ordering issues of a magazine or journal or paying a submission fee, is a great way to keep that journal afloat. So consider giving back if you can. If you've been following along with this submission checklist, you're ready to send out your first submission. So go for it. Once you've submitted your work, you're still not done. It's important to track and manage the process, and I'll give you some tips for doing that. 7. Managing the Process: Once you get started on submitting, it's important to track your work for a couple of reasons. First, if you're sending out simultaneous submissions and you have a piece that gets picked up, you'll want to know where else we still have it in progress, so that you can contact the organization to withdraw it. Tracking the places that you've sent out your work is also just a great way to acknowledge your process and mark your progress as you continue to submit. I'll show you how I track my submissions. So I have a spreadsheet here. It's got a couple of different categories and some color coding. So I'll explain to you what I've done here. For each submission, I mark the date that I submitted it on, and the organization that I sent it to. I mark the pieces that I've sent, and whether I got a confirmation that it was received like the email that I showed you from Submittable, whether I paid a fee. Then this moves into later on when I've heard from organizations, if I got a response and when details about the response. Then if something is accepted, if I've moved into a permissions phase with a contracts, if I've done any editing, if the work has been published, and then if I promoted it on my own social media. I leave a free section for notes to remind me as I'm going through. If for example I'm looking for places to submit more work, and I see this note for example that says, "Resubmit anytime," then this would be an organization that I would want to return to, to send more work. I have this organized so that the reddish color are rejections, the greens are acceptances, and the periwinkle is a tiered rejection, when someone has encouraged me to spend more work. These white ones are organizations that I haven't heard back from yet. So I'm going to go ahead and add the submission I just made. So I submitted this on the 10th 2018 to Projector Magazine. I happen to know that in that batch I had the same titles that I have here. I did get a confirmation that it was received and I got it through us for Submittable. I will show you an example an organization I sent another way. I sent these submissions via email and I did not put an x here. I did not receive confirmation that they were received. I did pay a $3 fee, and I haven't had a response yet. It's normal to be very excited after you send out work and to want to hear back quickly. However you need to acknowledge that markets receive a lot of submissions, and it can take anywhere from six months to a year to hear back. Be sure to visit the organization's website. Oftentimes they'll tell you how long you can expect to wait. If that time has already passed, it's acceptable to write to the editors and they will usually tell you how to do that. But don't bother them. Give at least that much time, and if say a month or two after that has passed, then it's okay to politely write to them and inquire if they're still considering your submission. If I ever needed to follow up with an editor, I would write something like, "Dear Editor, I sent you the following works on the date of October 3rd; X Y and Z. I wanted to be sure you're still considering them. Please be in touch anytime. Thanks. Rachel." If they don't give you any guidance about timeline, I would wait at least six months before following up with them. I know six months can seem like a long time. But this is the way the publishing cycles work. In that six months, you have a great opportunity to be creating and submitting new work. Sometimes it happens that you'll send out work and you won't hear back at all. While this is extremely frustrating. It is something that happens occasionally when for example, a literary journal is defunct, the project closes for whatever reason or the book doesn't get published. If you've written to the editor several times and you find no information on the website, sadly I would assume that your work is not going to be published and I would move on. On the other hand, if you do hear back quickly, if it's an acceptance, that's a really great sign. It means your work really intrigued the editors and they wanted to snap it up right away. If he hear back with a rejection, I wouldn't assume that means that either they didn't region work closely or didn't read it at all. It just means that their submission process is a little quicker, however they're doing it. They turnaround submissions a lot faster. So less wait time for you. So as you're starting to build your talking document or system, feel good about yourself. You can see the progress that you're making and you're putting yourself out into the world. It's a great testament to your hard work and your perseverance. Then as you start to hear back on your submissions, and you start to notice what is being accepted, what is being rejected, you can start to notice trends over time. Perhaps certain keys maybe need some revision, it's been rejected by a number of places. I've found for example in the summer I tend to hear back from organizations more quickly. You may notice that you have better luck with certain types of submissions. You may see, oh, my gosh I've actually submitted to the same organization five times. Maybe I'm going to give it a break. Or I submitted five times and I'm keep trying until they accept something. So now we'll talk about the two possible outcomes for submitting your work. First we'll talk about rejection. 8. Dealing with Rejection: Rejection is an inevitable part of the writing process and every writer faces it. Learning to handle it well is an essential skill, if you want to pursue your writing. So there was a great article a couple of years ago in Lit Hub, where a woman strategy for facing rejection was to actually pursue rejection. Her goal each year was to receive 100 rejections. When she reframed rejection in that way of thinking of each rejection as an accomplishment, it actually helped her get published. I've been involved in a competition where it was a rejection competition, and I place third. I got 58 rejections in 2018, but the winner got 250. Rejections always sting. I think they probably sting a little less, but with something like the rejection challenge, I have a place where I can go with it, and I have something that it's great that I can add it to my tally. Having some creative approach to your rejections can really help. So not every rejection is the same. There's your standard rejection, which basically says, no thank you and best of luck with your writing. A standard rejection like that doesn't give you a lot of information. It doesn't give you positive confirmation, but it also doesn't say that they never want to hear from you again. I definitely resubmit to organizations that I've sent me just a standard rejection. I've also been accepted from organizations that I've gotten several standard rejections in a row. So you just never know. Some people reply to a standard rejection. I don't tend to. If I were to reply at all, I would say, thank you for your time. Editors are very busy and if they haven't offered you feedback, they probably don't have time to do so. Following up with them and expecting something, especially if you've paid a fee, is likely to be detrimental to you in the future. If you wind up submitting to them again, it might leave a bad taste in someone's mouth. There's also what's referred to as a tiered or favorable rejection. That's when an editor tells you, "Not these particular pieces, but we'd love to hear more from you in the future." For those types of rejections, again, I don't usually respond. I could respond with a thank you also, meet again soon, but I really take that as a serious invitation. I take those tiered rejections to mean something, and I do usually sometimes I'll turn around and create a submission right then for the organization or I'll plan to submit, and I'll make a note to myself. There is a rejection above the tiered rejection. I call it a highly favorable rejection. That's when an organization says, you got really close. We really liked this poem. You made it to the final round. Unfortunately, we're not going to be publishing your work at this time, but we mean it sincerely, send us more. That absolutely, I would prepare a new packet right away. Because those responses are not sent to everyone, and they do mean something, and they do take extra time for the editors to craft them to you. So it's a big honor. You may also get a rejection with feedback, but these are very rare. But if an editor has taken time to tell you, give you some criticism, or some suggestions about your work, I would really take it to heart. It can be hard to receive feedback, especially if it's critical of your work, but try not to get your ego get in the way, if you can. Be as open to feedback as possible, and maybe give it a couple days and return to it. I've had strong emotional reactions to rejections, and then come back to them later and seeing that they were actually helpful to me in certain ways. That side perhaps its feedback that's not useful to you. If it isn't, then you don't need to take it into consideration. So I'll show you an example in my spreadsheet of tiered rejections. So I have the form rejection marked as a red. For tiered rejections, you'll see here I have a little note to myself about when to resubmit. I also saved the text of the rejection sometimes. If they tell me a specific poem that might help me craft my submission, maybe not. Then I have a highly tiered rejection marked with a separate color, to really alert me to resubmitting to that organization. So as an example, I submitted a Chapbook to Gertrude Press. In their rejection letter, they said, "While yours was not chosen as our winner this year, I want you to know how strongly I feel your manuscript is. I came back to several poems to read again for pleasure." Which is such a great, feels so good to receive that kind of feedback. She says she knows out of research she knows it will find a good home elsewhere. So I probably won't submit it again to this press unless any year I'm still shopping it out. Maybe I will send it back for another reading period, but it's just a great encouragement for the Chapbook. Looking at your submission tracking record over time, can help you learn important things about your work. About what types of work you're having accepted. About any seasonality, for example, I tend to receive more acceptances in the summer, a little fewer in the fall, and way less than the spring, for whatever reason. So that helps me really up my submission game in the summer. Perhaps, if you're submitting in multiple genres, maybe you're doing better in one, maybe that's where you want to focus. On the other hand, maybe it's time to spend all your attention on that other genre and try to get some of your work out there. You're getting a lot of rejections. Don't give up. Keep fighting. If you believe in your work and you're working hard at your crafts, then you got to keep going. That said, you can always continue to improve and grow as a writer and as a person. So get some more feedback on your work and really take it in. The more feedback you get as hard as they can seem, the better writer you'll become. One of the great things about publishing at this moment is the wide diversity of magazines, and presses, and journals. So if you've been trying the same journals for a while, why not expand your search. Why not try a couple of new markets and see what happens. Publication is just one route to get your work out into the world. So maybe you want to consider some alternatives in the meantime, while you're trying to get your work published. Maybe you want to put out your own zine. Organize a public reading. Participate in an open mic. While we won't be dealing with self-publishing in this class. There are plenty of resources online, and that's another good option. I think engaging with the community really helps. Surround yourself with writers. Go to readings. Meet people. Create your own workshop group or your own writing group. Be part of a conversation. Share your process with other people. Read journals that are being published. Be really familiar with the type of style that's being published right now. Read widely and read to improve your own skill. Read in your genre and also read all types of different writing. You can be inspired by any kind of writing. As a poet myself, I often find great ideas for poems in prose, or I'm inspired by the way an author uses language. Working as an editor for a journal was one of the best experiences for my own writing because I really got to see it from the other side. There are plenty of opportunities that exist for you to volunteer as a reader. Organizations are always looking for talented people to help them read what's called slush. Slush is another term that's used for unsolicited work. So if you can find a position, you can even find them using the discover feature on Submittable, or Googling slush reader, Goggling volunteer reader. If you can get involved in a journal from the backend, you'll really start to learn more about the types of work people are submitting, the common mistakes that they make, and how you can avoid them. If there aren't any opportunities in your particular city, a lot of journals are run completely online, so that they will have readers in various locations, and you can do it remotely. 9. Handling Acceptance: Congratulations. You've had an acceptance. Now, there are a couple more steps. The first step when you've had an acceptance is to withdraw your work if you've submitted it somewhere else. Publishers allow you to submit simultaneously as a courtesy. So, it's important to return the courtesy and let them know right away that your work has been accepted, so it doesn't end up getting accepted somewhere else as well. So, if I'm going to withdraw some work, I'll show you what I do on my tracking spreadsheet. So, if I've work accepted that I've submitted to other organizations, I'll go into my talking spreadsheet. So, let's say, for example, that Nat. Brut accepted my Poem Notches. I'll highlight this screen, and then I will find where also I have submitted that same poem, that is still in progress and I will cross it out and withdraw it. In submitable in your submission list. You'll see that I submitted the Poem Notches to Salt Hill Journal, I could also search the poem name here to see all the places that I've sent it out. So, these are all the places that I would need to withdraw it. I'm going to start by withdrawing from Salt Hill. So, in some interval I can say. "Hi Salt Hill my poem 'Notches' has been accepted elsewhere. Thank you for considering my other work". Then I can send them a message directly. Some organizations will not have this messaging enabled, and then you can find their contact email usually on the guidelines page. They'll tell you where to email if you need to withdraw work or just send to any contact e-mail. You can find the same message. "Hi I sent you a submission on this date. My poem x has been picked up elsewhere. Thank you for your time." As soon as you've received an acceptance, you can update your bio. You don't have to wait for the publication to come out. You can say "My work is forthcoming in", and insert the journal name. Once your work has been accepted, there may be a period of six months or even a year before your work appears sometimes even longer. But once the publication process is in full gear, you're likely to be in touch with the editors. They may request that you make certain edits, they may request about right away or they may be publishing your work as is. If in the meantime you decide you need to make revisions, let the editors know right away and try to keep that to a minimum. If you know you're going to be working substantially on a poem and you want to make a number of changes, don't send them each changes as you make it, they accepted your work as is because they liked it a lot. So, if you plan to make substantial changes be sure to communicate with them. Many organizations will use a contract for their work, they'll send you either a digital contracts or they may send it in the mail. It's important for you to sign and return that contractors as quickly as you can to keep publication on schedule. Contracts usually contain copyright information and any compensation and will go with your publication. Most organizations will send you a proof of your work to show you how it will appear in the font and formatting of their publication for you to double-check. Be sure to look at this closely, this is your last opportunity to make changes to your poem and be sure to respond in a timely manner. If your organization is not using a contract and if you haven't been in touch beforehand this email could arrive out of the blue after nine months. Even though it's been a long time, it's really important to respond to it quickly so that the journal can keep on schedule. Most publications want to include at least your bio statement, they may also want a head shots. If they're going to be promoting online, they may want to tag them on social media or include your website. If you've had an acceptance, I wouldn't pastor the editors too much, they're busy. They have a specific timeline for their publication, that timeline may shift. There are a lot of factors going on in their world that have little to do with your piece. If they've accepted your piece and they want to publish it rest assured that it will happen and be patient. When an issue goes live online or is released in print, most likely you'll receive an email from the organization letting you know, and this is a great time to begin promoting your work. Social media is a great avenue for promoting your work. You could also send out a link via email. You could link to the full issue or just to your own work there. Sometimes organizations will do their own promotion which is great and that's a great opportunity for you to again share, retweet, or share on your own Facebook feed via email. Getting accepted as such a great opportunity to get your work out there, to connect with other writers, and other readers, to network, and to celebrate. We worked really hard on your writing, you've been working hard submitting your work and it's paid off. 10. Final Thoughts: Now you've learned about the whole submission process. You've learned about selecting the writing that you send out for submission. You've learned about selecting submission markets. You've created a cover letter, and a bio statement. You've clicked Submit. You've also maybe had a rejection or had an acceptance, and especially if you've had an acceptance, this is a great time to really enjoy the fruits of your labor. Take a moment to celebrate, and then it's time to get back to writing and more submitting. I'd love to see your submission plan if you'd like to put that in with class projects. I'm happy to answer any questions that you have or if you'd like to engage with discussion, any of your fellow classmates, please do. If you have an acceptance, I would love to read your work so please come back and tell us about it. Thank you so much for taking this class. I hope that was helpful to you. I can't wait to see your writing out in the world. 11. Explore More Classes on Skillshare: