You wrote a great story/poem and now you’re all ready to submit it for consideration in your favorite journal. Before you click send, make sure that your submission doesn’t have any of these six common red flags by asking yourself:
1. Did you format your submission appropriately? Here are the guidelines for poems and here are the guidelines for short fiction. Note that some journals may have their own formatting guidelines, which you should always follow. However, you should default to these guidelines unless a journal explicitly notes otherwise.
2, Did you proofread your submission? Spelling and grammatical errors are a huge turn-off to editors. Run a spelling and grammar check on your word processing software, proofread your writing yourself, and have a friend look over your work before you click send.
3. Are you sure the journal is an appropriate fit? It may be your favorite journal, but do they publish the same kind of work that you wrote? Does your style fit with the magazine? Does your content? Your genre? Most journals have very narrow parameters of what kind of work they publish. You can find out through reading a few issues if your work is an appropriate fit for publication in the magazine.
4. Did you find out the editor/publisher’s name? Make sure that you browse the publication to find out who is likely going to be reading your work and making the final decision. If you place the wrong name, or no name at all, it will give the impression that you are not a regular reader and/or do not think the editor/publisher is worth your time.
5. Have you read the magazine? Editors can tell when writers send a submission without reading the magazine first. These result in rejections. Familiarize yourself with the work published in the magazine.
6. Did you compose a cover letter that can win an editor over? Is your cover letter professional or is it a hard sell? Is your cover letter professional or are you begging for publication? Is your cover letter professional or is it a form letter? We’ve all heard of writers and their antics, but if you are an aspiring writer, edgy as your work may be, a cover letter is not the time to show anything less than your professional side.