Amber Skye Forbes

Writing Words With the Tips of My Toes

Magazine Submission Etiquette

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As you all may or may not know, I found a literary magazine called The Corner Club Press about 3 years ago. I am now simply the president and web designer for the magazine, having decided to take a backseat to focus on all the other things going on in my life. In any case, throughout these three years, I have come across a multitude of things that are just downright annoying. You expect them, but countless posts have been written like mine, and, yet, writers still do these things we tell them not to do. I feel like there are no excuses anymore, not when you have an entire world’s worth of information at your fingertips. Not to mention that every reputable magazine should have solid submission guidelines. In any case, let’s begin with what you should be doing when submitting a short story or poetry piece, or when you are considering doing so.

  1. Follow submission guidelines down to the very last letter, lest you be rejected. It doesn’t even matter that the submission guidelines are detailed. People will still sub to us with wonky or small fonts, incorrect formatting, genres we don’t want, or more pieces beyond the limits we’ve established. We’re not desperate for submissions. We receive more than enough. And, to be frank, when I was going through the slush pile, I was looking for any reason to reject a piece because I’d get so many. The ones we accept are the rare few that make us not want to get up from our chairs to fetch a snack.
  2. When submitting, address us accordingly. I once had a writer address me as Mr. Forbes. Read the bios. They’re not just there for gloating.
  3. Rejection. Throughout the three years of the CCP’s existence, only one has ever gotten into a fight with us about rejecting his piece. I wasn’t able to find the e-mail he sent us. Otherwise, I would have posted it right here, sans name. I am not above doing that. We editors eventually develop a snarky side. I can’t even remember exactly what he said, either, but it was enough to cause me to send a polite, nasty letter to him, simply for the sake of his own writing career. So, technically, I was doing him a favor by responding at all. Mariah was the one who read his response first, by the way. I don’t look at submissions anymore. I trust my experienced staff with them.
  4. Don’t respond to rejection letters. Even if you’re just thanking us for taking the time out of our day to read your piece, don’t do it. At all. It’s not going to make us accept your next piece, just as not responding is going to make us reject your next piece. Just send to us again. That alone tells us you really want to be in our magazine, and that alone makes us hope we eventually accept you.
  5. Respond to acceptances immediately. Please. Don’t send us a revised version, either. We liked what you originally sent us. Plus, we do light editing anyway.
  6. Don’t tell us to make corrections AFTER PUBLICATION, when there is no error on our part. I actually had one writer tell me I published the wrong story. It was THE ONLY story said writer had submitted. Poets are especially notorious for doing this. Don’t tell us to italicize something when it wasn’t italicized to begin with. This means having to go through and change something so you don’t slander our magazine, having to change links, and then having to re-upload the issue. Think about how you’re inconveniencing us before you send a correction to an error we never made. We’re not perfect, and we have made errors in the past that we’ve fixed, but if no errors were present to begin with, don’t accuse us of doing something we didn’t do in the first place.

There you go! My post will be just one of thousands already written, but it’s worth repeating, over and over and over and over and over…

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4 comments on “Magazine Submission Etiquette

  1. The Story Reading Ape
    February 27, 2014

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's New (to me) Authors Blog and commented:
    Authors and Writers.
    Useful DO’ s and DON’T’ s from someone at the receiving end of your submissions

  2. Susannah Ailene Martin
    March 4, 2014

    Well, I’m glad someone can say it. I own a (very) small literary magazine myself, called Estuary. I’m curious how you managed to get so many submissions. I’m struggling every issue to have enough.

    • amberskyef
      March 4, 2014

      Have you set your lit mag up on Duotrope? That is an extremely helpful website to use. It doesn’t cost you anything to set your lit mag up on it, although it does cost writers now to use the website. When you close for your subs period, alert Duotrope so they can mark the magazine as having closed for submissions. Then when you contact Duotrope to let them know you’re back open, your magazine will basically be put front and center for magazines that have closed and opened, making it MUCH easier for writers to find your magazine.

      You can also sub the magazine to Submissions Grinder, a free version of Duotrope. Then there is Poets and Writers. You can submit a listing there. Also, for your submissions guideline, ask how writers found you so you know where you are most effective.

      I’m perusing the website right now. I advise that you actually upload a pic of your issues cover, and then link the pdf to that image. We’re all visual, so we want to know what something looks like. Also, I find the PDF file for the subs guidelines unnecessary. I would just include all of the information in the guidelines, especially because it isn’t a whole lot. I’ll give you more information later. I have to get ready for an appointment, lol.

      • Susannah Ailene Martin
        March 4, 2014

        Hey, thanks for the advice. I can’t really do anything that costs money, because it’s a free magazine (and I’m broke), but I can definitely look into some of this. Thanks again. BTW, here’s the URL for my magazine’s website: http://estuarymagazine.weebly.com/

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