I am a dog lover. For me, my poodle and Corgi are my children. When the time came to find a place to board them for a couple of days, I took my time looking for the right place. I insisted on a tour of each facility I considered. I checked the crates they’d be housed in, the outdoor pen where they’d be walked. I also wanted to know the feeding and walking schedule. I even talked to the staff to gauge the personality of the place. My goal was not finding a facility to leave my dogs for a few days. I needed to know that my babies would be taken care of once they left me.
I consider my short stories my other babies. Like my beloved dogs, I nurture each written piece, feeding them the right amount of dialogue, imagery and exposition. I take them around the block a few times, fielding advice from my critique group members. And when the time comes for me to submit them for publication, I make sure I take a look around before giving my hard work over to just anybody.
For any writer, the submission process should involve more than just the idea of having something published. A great deal of research is needed to ensure the likelihood of not only acceptance by the publication, but that an audience is available to read it. Reading the submission guidelines is just the beginning. That would be like choosing a place to board my dogs based solely on what the building looked like on the outside. Read samples of recently printed short stories or articles in the publication to determine if they match the style and tone of your piece. Publication mediums—whether electronic, print or both—should also be considered. While some print publications have an established audience of dedicated readers, in my experience, electronic publications have the potential of being shared across several on-line platforms, thereby reaching a much wider audience. The frequency of publication, payment, rights, and response time for submissions are additional items that should be researched before deciding on a potential home for your work.
As a reader for Short Fiction Break, I’ve had the privilege of being on the other side of the submission process. Reading work with glaring typographical errors, missing or odd cover letters, and some well-crafted work that just didn’t fit with what Short Fiction Break has published gives me an appreciation for the process. I now think twice before hitting the “Send” button on my own submissions.
Consider the importance of your project when the time comes to submit a manuscript, poem or short story. Consider all the time and effort you put into crafting it. Consider the love you have for your “baby.” Then begin the work to ensure your baby will be taken care of, meaning read and appreciated, once it leaves you.
This post previously appeared at Indiana Writers’ Consortium