When you’re querying your short fiction you’re going to get rejected. A lot.
Stephen King once famously mounted a railroad spike on his childhood bedroom wall when he started submitting short stories as a teen. Each rejection letter King received got impaled on the spike. After a while, the weight of the paper was so heavy it started to warp the railroad-grade iron.
You’re going to have to assume that no one is going to immediately declare your work a masterpiece, and buy it off of you for one million dollars.
Which means, even from the start, you’ll need to plan on sending your piece to multiple publishers.
Even when you strip down your list to a handful of hopefuls, this can be hard. Most publishers take an average of 4-6 weeks to get back to you. Which means you’ll often be waiting more than a month for another ‘no’.
Thankfully, simultaneous submissions are a thing. But… isn’t that rude? What do successful writers do when they want to submit their work? Have things changed now that most publications prefer to use Submittable, rather than a SASE? What’s the etiquette for sending out overlapping submissions in 2020?
Well, I’ve done some research on this. A lot, in fact. But there’s very few things that the experts agree on.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that you’ll need to treat your simultaneous submissions with the same good-sense etiquette you’d use when scrolling through Tinder. Everyone knows that they’ll be contacting multiple resources to make that important connection. But it’s in everyone’s best interest to bring as much dignity to the process as possible.
Just like scrolling through your Tinder feed on a date is tacky to the extreme, it’s equally tacky to send a query that suggests your focus isn’t entirely on the publisher you’re contacting.
But by that same token, it might be a requirement of the publisher that you let them know you’ll be submitting simultaneously. Some publishers may want to know who else will be reading your work. And if your list of publishers is a bit… eclectic… you might risk insulting a publisher or showing your amateur stripes.
Is there any way to handle this gracefully?
There is! Submitting in tiers.
When you submit in tiers you’re grouping together like-minded publications with similar content and similar submission requests. It reduces your chances of insulting important publishers, and ensures that you have a schedule that will force you to keep submitting your work.
Even when that publication you really, really, REALLY wanted to do business with decides to pass on your latest piece.
After much careful consideration, and a lot of second guessing, these are the tiers I’ve come up with.
Best Fit Tier
These are publications that seem to have the highest chance of accepting my work.
The Rag – http://raglitmag.com/
The Saranac Review – http://www.saranacreview.com/submission-guidlines
The Prestige Tier
These are publications that have terrifyingly excellent credentials..
Harvard Review – https://www.harvardreview.org/submit/
Antioch Review – http://review.antiochcollege.edu/guidelines
One Story – https://www.one-story.com/index.php?page=submit&pubcode=os
These are publications that have extra instructions you must follow, and detailed steps that you must take.
Hudson Review – https://hudsonreview.com/about-us/submission-guidelines/
Sequestrum – https://www.sequestrum.org/submissions
Late Riser Tier
These are publications that have some serious potential, but aren’t accepting submissions until much later in the year.
The Kenyon Review – https://kenyonreview.org/submission/
The Fourth River – https://4thriver.submittable.com/submit
Now I just need to reach out to these publications!
But what will I say when I query the piece?
We’ll be talking about that in next week’s installment.