I’m a member of several author groups who regularly meet in online chat-rooms to talk about the craft. Every member of these groups are published authors, some traditionally, and some Indie. Many are hybrid, with work both traditionally and Indie published.
Much of what we discuss involves the problems we face in developing marketing strategies. While we all agree that only publishing work that is of the highest quality is of paramount importance, one thing is clear: the greatest hurdle Indie authors face is getting our work in front of readers’ eyes.
Therefore, we write short stories and submit them to various anthologies, magazines, and contests. Those of us who write in less popular genres have fewer sales of our novels through Amazon and other eBook sales outlets, which makes it even more important for us to submit short stories to the many contests and publications that are out there, and who are open for submission. However, finding these contests and publications can be challenging, as often by the time I hear about them, the closing date is approaching which means I may not have time to get a rough piece into the right shape for submission.
But even that is becoming less of a problem for me, because I have found an App for that.
The Submittable App.
Many contests and publications use the Submittable platform to accept and review the large volume of manuscripts they received from writers. When a publisher uses this platform, it’s great for us as authors because we can use the app to keep track of what we have submitted, and where it currently is in the process. This is a screenshot of the PC app, but the phone app is just as easy to read.
On your personal page, Submittable lists four stages in the process:
- In process
It is the responsibility of the contest manager or publication to notify Submittable as to the status of their entries and submissions, and while most do, some contests managers aren’t as diligent about that. I assume that if it has been more than year, they didn’t want that piece.
But, even better than being able to track your submissions, all the contests that are currently open via Submittable are listed on the Submittable Website in one place on the “Discover” tab, so the question of where to submit your work is easily answered. Every open call for submissions is listed, and any entry fees are clearly shown.
At the top are the contests and calls that are closing that day. But if you scroll down to the bottom, you will find calls closing thirty days from now and beyond.
Just click on a contest or publication that looks interesting and a screen will pop up. Each pop-up tells you what is required for that contest or publication:
When I first began this journey, I didn’t understand how specifically you should tailor your submissions when it comes to literary magazines, contests, and anthologies.
Go to the publisher’s website and find out what their submission guidelines are and FOLLOW THEM. (Yes, they apply to EVERYONE, no matter how famous.) If you skip this step, you can wait up to a year to hear that your ms has been rejected, and they most likely won’t tell you why.
I’ve posted this link before, but it bears repeating: an excellent article that addresses that well is “What Editors Want; A Must-Read for Writers Submitting to Literary Magazines.”
Because I have so many short pieces floating around in the ether and most are not through Submittable, I keep a list on a spreadsheet, organized like this:
I can’t stress this too strongly: only submit your best work. If you have a well-written piece that reads smoothly when read aloud and is rejected for whatever reason, examine it once more with a critical eye and then find a different magazine, contest, or anthology to submit it to. Chances are it simply didn’t resonate with the editor at that place, and who knows–it may be exactly what the next place is looking for.
I like submitting my work to places that use Submittable, because when you can see where your work is in that process, you can better decide what to do with each manuscript. After all they have room for only so many pieces. This means that sometimes your good work is rejected in favor of another author’s good work. Sulking over a rejection doesn’t advance your career, so promptly put that manuscript back into circulation.
When you have a great story that you believe in, you must find the venue that might be interested in your sort of work. This means you must buy magazines, read them, and write to those standards.
If you are stumped for places to send your work and don’t see anything that interests you on the list at Submittable, there are several sites that offer classified ads calling for submissions:
The important thing is to write and write and write. When you are stumped for ideas on a longer piece, writing a short story often fills the gap and keeps you writing. Write that short story, then set it aside for future use. Build a backlog of flash-fiction. You never know when you’ll need a piece for an anthology or magazine.