WE SAY JUSTICE IS BLIND, and we hope that’s true. We also hope justice is at play when we send our writing to an agent or contest or journal. But who the heck knows? The person who gets first crack at our query or short story may well be an intern, someone whose job it is to sort the wheat from the chaff—before passing along what they deem the good stuff to the editor in charge.
But even if our best work does make it to the editor’s desk (wheat! wheat! wheat!), there’s no telling what sort of mood she’ll be in when she sets eyes on it. Did she have coffee that morning? Is she worried about her kid’s stomach flu? Is her boss on her ass about readership numbers? Frustratingly, such things—things completely out of our control—can sway the delicate balance of the scales of editorial opinion.
But here’s a short list of things that are in our control which can tip the scales in our favor:
- Do your research: Be sure you’re submitting work that matches what your potential agent, editor, or publisher is seeking.
- Follow their guidelines to the letter.
- Send squeaky-clean copy. Every writer needs a proofreader. Beg, borrow, barter or buy the services of a good one to make your work look its best!
- Create a strong opening line, followed by a strong first paragraph, followed by the rest of a strong first page. Often that’s all you get to catch an editor’s interest.
- Finally, read this article: “What Editors Want,” by Lynne Barrett, for The Review Review.
Summer writing contests and other calls for submission
Once you’ve nailed the stuff in the list above, you’ll be all set to dig in to these resources:
New Pages is news, information, and guides to literary magazines, independent publishers, creative writing programs, alternative periodicals, indie bookstores, writing contests, and more. Visit their calls for submissions page.
Writer Unboxed publishes empowering, positive, and provocative ideas about the craft and business of fiction. Their contributors include bestselling authors and industry professionals. They also have a list of fiction writing contests for summer 2019!
Freewrite’s 2019 Writing Contests: The Complete Guide compiles what they consider the best essay, poetry, novel, and short story writing competitions for fiction and non-fiction writers.
Okay, now GO! Get published!
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