Many websites will entice you submit your work just for the recognition. Some literary journals will often offer payment in the form of a copy of the issue you’re published in. If you re going to submit material you’ve poured your heart and should into, without being paid, make sure you have a good reason to do so. Recently, I submitted a short story to a science fiction anthology and a literary journal; despite the fact no payment was offered by either publication. I submitted to the anthology because it’s a fund-raiser to support a writer’s organization, and being published in the literary journal may lead to a public reading.
Before you decide to submit your writing, here are some issues to consider.
Literary Journals often require that the material you submit has not been previously published. The result is that if you have a short story or essay published for free, finding another journal or website to pay for a reprint will be extremely difficult, and you may never be paid for it.
Another issue is whether submitting to a particular website or publication will raise your profile. Does the website have substantial traffic? Where is the print anthology distributed/sold? If you have a short story or essay published in a journal that’s only distributed through one bookstore, how many readers will see it? It’s true that a story published on a website has international exposure, but if no one visits the website…..
Do you want to have your name associated with the website or anthology? Will that association improve or damage your reputation as a writer? Take some time to look over the website operated by the publisher, click on some of the artwork, read a couple of the stories or essays from previous issues. This is an opportunity to learn about the tone of the writing and the type of artwork they use. A few minutes of research will reduce the risk of finding your material surrounded by themes and images that you find personally distasteful. You can’t, however, control what the editor chooses to include in an issue you’re published in; there’s always some risk involved.
Finally, before you submit material to a publication, online or print, do a search with the publication’s title in quotation marks. I suggest you use Google and Bing; there are enough differences to make it worth your effort to use both. If you find comments by writers who haven’t received a reply concerning their submissions, or haven’t been paid the fee they were promised, perhaps you should submit elsewhere You can also visit http://www.sfwa.org, the website of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. On their website, they have a resource called WRITER’S BEWARE, an excellent source of information regarding unethical publishers and literary agents
I don’t want to discourage you from submitting material, but I do want you feel good about your choices. I hope that you’ll spend some time writing today, because the world needs to hear your voice, your passion.
One thought on “Before You Submit….”
This contains some excellent advice. I thought long and hard before publishing my short story Moth Child to my blog, which causes the same issues you describe here. But I want to build a brand for myself both as a writer and an editor, and I decided it was important to feature fiction of my own that was a good standard.
At the end of the day, if writing is how you want to make your living, it’s important to really think before publishing for free.
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