copyright ©2000, Lisa Silverthorne

Here are some tips to help you through the submission process.


Study the market(s)

  • Review several issues of the magazine(s) you want to submit to and request guidelines whenever possible.

    This will save you from embarrassing mistakes and it will also give you a good idea about the types of stories an editor buys.


  • Read work in your genre.
    This will help you see themes and kinds of stories that have been done many times (or what hasn't been done). It will also familiarize you with the "trappings" of the genre.
  • Read outside your genre too.
    Reading other types of fiction is a learning experience that can carry over into your genre. And widen your point of view.

Develop a plan

  • Make a list of markets you want to try in the order you want to try them.
  • Keep a log of stories sent (When, Where and To Whom)
  • Keep as up-to-date as possible on the markets by using a Monthly Market Guide instead of Writer's Market (updated annually).  Publications like Speculations and Gila Queen's Guide to Markets are good choices.
  • Request guidelines from magazines/ anthologies whenever possible.

Develop a writing habit so that you are producing work regularly

  • If you're a writer who can write every day, then by all means, write every day.
  • If you're a writer who cannot write everyday, that's fine too.
  • Having more than one story out making the rounds takes the emotional charge off that first submission. So does working on another story.

Write a brief cover letter

  • You don't want to shoot yourself in the foot with an inappropriate cover letter.
  • Do spell the editor's name correctly
  • Do omit a summary of the plot
  • Do identify the story and the word count
  • Do list only relevant writing credits (i.e. in the SF/F field)
  • Do include a SASE

Properly format your manuscript

  • If you submit a brief cover letter, a properly formatted manuscript and a SASE, then you're ahead of 90% of the submissions out there.
  • Consult a book on manuscript formats.
    Writers Market contains formatting information.
    Also, check magazine guidelines for formatting information. Some magazines have specific requests.

Be Patient

  • The short story markets can be very slow in responding to manuscripts. Some of the Monthly Market Guides print current response times for most markets. Checking these response times will give you a good idea of how long you might have to wait for a response. Including a Self-Addressed, Stamped Postcard with your submissions will give you peace of mind that your story did arrive at the magazine.

Don't Give Up

  • Don't let other people make you feel badly about your writing
  • Don't let rejections stop you from submitting
  • Don't take advice that doesn't work for you (Every writer works differently. Find what works for you and do it)
  • Don't stop writing (taking breaks and hiatuses are good things)
  • Don't let writer's block defeat you.

A Word About Writers Block

  • If you write through or don't write through writer's block, it's okay. The Creative process goes through stages of birth and death. The period between death and birth is what strengthens creativity . . . so it's okay to take a break until you feel that you have something to say again. So, give yourself permission to take a break when you need it.
  • Whatever works for you to get through Writer's Block is the best way.

The Bottom Line

  • If you dream of becoming a writer, don't let anyone or anything take that dream away from you.     Recognize that writing is a long haul and requires a lot of patience and persistence. (and chocolate!)


Now, go write something!