One thing I’ve found essential in this writing game – a thick skin.
I’ve been submitting my work to magazines and journals for about a year now, and it’s a really bizarre process. Most times, you email off your submission and you don’t know whether they’ve received it or not, then you sit on your hands for the allotted amount of time before assuming you’re safe to send the piece off somewhere else.
Occasionally I’ll receive a “Thanks for your submission – we’ll get back to you shortly,” and when I do my heart bursts with joy at some (any!) sort of acknowledgement.
Only recently have I got entirely practical and a little bit anal about this thing, and made a spreadsheet which details which piece went where, when, and when I should hear expect to hear back from them – and then the contact details of who I plan to contact if I don’t hear back. That was one thing that became really clear to me throughout the EWF – if you don’t hear from an editor within the timeframe they give you (most submissions guidelines will tell you how long you can expect to wait), it’s absolutely okay to contact them to check what’s happened to your submission. Editors are people too. They get busy. They lose stuff. They experience technical cock-ups.
The last year has been a long haul of ‘submit/wait/submit somewhere else/wait again/maybe get an actual “no”/cry for a bit/submit somewhere else/wait … ” (ad infinitum). But after all this, I think I’ve finally gotten somewhere, folks!
Yesterday I received not one, but TWO emails that made my heart sing. One said, ‘yes, yes actually we would love to publish your piece!’… the other said they thought my piece had potential, made some suggestions for re-working, and encouraged me to re-submit it.
I won’t name names of publications here, because I have a feeling that’s not entirely kosher. Let me give you all a bit of a spoiler about your first acceptance letters though – they are ABSOLUTELY the opposite of rejection letters.
The rejection letters I’ve received thus far go something like: “Dear Sam, Thanks for your submission to ____. Due to the volume and quality of submissions we have received, and limited space in the publication, the editorial process has been difficult. We are sorry to inform you that we will not be including your piece in our next issue, however we encourage you to submit more work in the future. Regards, Editor.”
They’re so vague and soul-crushing. “BUT WHY!?” I’m screaming at my computer, “WHY!? What was wrong with the piece?”
Acceptance letters though? Nice. Lovely! None of this vagueness. They say yes, then they tell you exactly why they think you’re awesome. I kid you not. It’s such a just payoff for all the soul-crushing the last year has brought. Finally, finally, finally, I got something past an editor!
So keep your eyes peeled, kids, I’ll keep you updated as to WHERE my work will be appearing closer to publication date.
And maintain a thick skin. It’ll happen.