10 Tips for Creative Writing Submissions and Getting Published

getting published submission tips

Tips for submitting your creative writing and getting published.

Your short story is finished. Your poem is polished. Your personal essay has been proofread. Now, you’re ready to submit your creative writing project for publication.

How do you do it? Where do you find the right publication? What materials should you send? Should you use email or snail mail? How long do you wait before following up? And what if your piece is rejected?

For many writers, the submission process is a big drag because it doesn’t involve writing, and let’s face it, most of us are in it for the creative writing.

But there’s more to being a writer than just writing, especially if you want your work to be read or if you want to make a living as a writer.

Tips for Submitting Your Creative Writing and Getting Published

If you approach the submission process strategically and professionally, you’ll increase the chances that your work will be accepted and published. Whether you’re submitting to agents or editors, here are some tips for submitting your work and getting published:


  1. Take some time to familiarize yourself with various agents, publishing houses, and publications in your genre. Send your creative writing to the ones that are a good fit for your work in terms of form, genre, and style.
  2. Use the library or visit a local, independent bookstore to get copies of print publications like literary journals. You can also try college bookstores. Peruse them in the aisles if you wish, but keep in mind that buying copies of these publications helps support them — and other writers.
  3. You’ll find submission guidelines on most agents’ and publications’ websites. Otherwise, they’ll be in the publication itself. Review the guidelines carefully as they contain instructions on how to submit your work. This is crucial because agents and publications have their own submission guidelines.
  4. Follow the submission guidelines to the letter. Agents and publications that are overwhelmed with submissions will toss out any that stray from the guidelines they’ve established.
  5. In some cases, the guidelines may refer to a style guide. If this is the case, you might need to buy a style guide and revise your work so it will be in accordance with the guidelines.
  6. Keep your query and cover letter succinct and professional. Same goes for a synopsis (if applicable). Don’t try any fancy antics to get agents’ or editors’ attention. They see gimmicks all the time.
  7. Once you’ve sent your submission, sit back and wait. Do not harass or annoy agents or editors by bombarding them with follow-ups.
  8. Many submission guidelines include information about how long it should take to receive a response. Once that allotment of time has passed, go ahead and send a single follow-up. Ask if they received your submission. Be professional.
  9. If there is no indication of how long it should take for you to receive a response, wait six weeks to three months before following up.
  10. If you receive an acceptance, great! If you receive a rejection, accept it graciously and get back to work. Don’t give up! If your rejection includes a critique or any helpful feedback, be grateful (most agents and editors don’t take time to provide feedback) and apply it to your future creative writing projects.

Ready, Set, Submit

Submitting your work is fun and a little bit scary. Hopefully you’ll get lucky, but remember that luck comes most frequently to those who have prepared for it with hard work. If your writing gets rejected, try again. Send the same piece to another agent or publication and keep producing fresh work.

Remember, creative writing is hard work. We writers have to wear many different hats. We must be artists, grammarians, and communicators. We require empathy and an understanding of the human psyche. We have to be publicists and marketing experts. And we have to become pros at submitting our work.

Otherwise it may never end up in readers’ hands.

Do you have any tips to add? Have you submitted your creative writing to agents or publications? Do you have any strategies for getting published? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.

Comments

6 Responses to “10 Tips for Creative Writing Submissions and Getting Published”

  1. Sarah says:

    Thank you for the tips. I am a thirteen year old writer, and although that might seem young to most who are reading this it really isn’t. I found my ability to write last year and have added on to my knowledge since. Maybe in a couple years (or more hah) you will be reading my books. Let’s not say maybe though(:

  2. Lori says:

    Honest to God, I bookmarked this and I’m sending every client who asks me how to publish right here. Great post, Melissa! And one that’s necessary to anyone – even the nonwriter authors – who’s thinking of publishing a book.
    .-= Lori´s last blog ..But What About How Much You’re Worth? =-.

    • Thanks Lori! My latest project is sifting through dozens of literary mags to see which ones are a good fit for my work. I wanted to make sure I had a clear outline of the submission process before tackling it ;) Glad you found it useful!

  3. Sarah says:

    If you’re vying for a particular magazine, it’s also wise to read up on what their general mood or tone is. Keep your own quality but consider the magazine’s essence.