There is a profitable #writingtips market on social media. Although market might not be the word. What we have are people at the top of their game, talented and exciting scribes giving us their insights for free — it’s amazing. Where in yesteryear writing was a thorny process of self-discovery these days writing the ultimate novel is just a matter of following these tips verbatim, finding in that way your own voice. We are all churning out the ultimate novel these days, getting published and making shitloads of money, thanks to these wise and generous people.
But what about the moment of submission? Not many of these brilliant and foolproof #writingtips tackle this moment. What happens in the smokey and dusty offices of those in love with red pens? What goes through the mind of those reading your work? Here is some invaluable advice that will help you find yourself on a good footing with these obscure creatures, editors, in the hope of making your path to literary glory even easier.
1. Never read the magazine you are submitting to. Never acquaint yourself with the publishing house you are submitting your manuscript to. Take a chance. Be spontaneous.
2. The same goes for the guidelines. Fuck the guidelines. No one who gets their work accepted anywhere bothers reading the guidelines. Guidelines are there to put mediocre writers off — that’s not you.
3. In the same spirit: fuck deadlines. Submit after the deadline. In that way your submission will be at the top of the slush pile.
4. Make sure you don’t address the editor by name. Or get their name wrong. Be as impersonal as possible. This is not about creating any meaningful human contact: it’s about getting your work published.
5. If you don’t know whether the editor is a man or a woman asume he is a man. If the editor is a woman she won’t mind you calling her Mr. And if she cares she shouldn’t.
6. Make sure you use a very small font. Anything under 9 will do. No double spacing. Editors hate to leave notes between the lines.
7. Use a very funky font. Comic Sans or alike. Editors love funky fonts because it makes reading more of a challenge, more fun.
8. Leave your Word edit comments visible. Editors love trying to work out if they are part of the piece.
9. If your piece gets rejected make sure to unfollow the editors on Twitter. This will improve your chances next time.
10. Under no circumstance rework your piece after a rejection. Send it as it is elsewhere. In a while send it back to the same publication. The editors will admire your determination.
11. Editors also love it when you submit and withdraw your piece within hours saying you sent the wrong version. And then you submit again a couple of hours later. Several times.
12. Editors love it when they try to work edits with you and you stand your ground over the minimal change. Good editing is about not editing. The editors are testing how sure you are of what you are doing.
13. Proofing is something better left to the editors. Never waste your or a friend’s time proofing your work. Picking out the typos in a piece is one of the most enjoyable aspects of editing — think about it like pinching someone else’s spots.
14. Editors also love funky bios where you tell them about eating habits, pets, and what a funky person you are. Always be FUNKY.
15. Always follow up your submission with an email. Editors forget about submissions and they need weekly (or more frequent) follow ups.
16. Use the cover letter as an opportunity to show off your credentials. Do tell the editor what x renowned writer has said about you.
17. If you have a manuscript ready for publication send it to a magazine. The editors will read it all and choose a fragment and publish it. This is particularly the case with lengthy poetry collections.
18. If your piece gets rejected make sure you email back the editors and ask them why they rejected your work. Try to argue yourself into an acceptance. Consider it a form of haggling.
19. Make sure you introduce your work somewhat like “Dear editors, I know you will very likely pass on this but nevertheless… feel free to reject it…”
20. Or the opposite: “Dear editors, this piece is 100% for you and I am certain you won’t reject it because you aren’t idiots.”
21. Never submit something with a given magazine or publishing house in mind. Just bulk submit and use any of the many available services to do this. All magazines or presses want more or less the same kind of thing.
22. Make sure you tell the editors if your submission is simultaneous and that there is a need for a quick answer or risk losing it. Begin pushy helps.
23. And finally: make sure to tell the editors if your submission has been rejected before, elsewhere, and what a shit place that was, and that you know they won’t be as stupid as the other editors.
Crossposted with FernandoSdrigotti.com
Note: point 3 suggested by Joanna Walsh, former fiction editor at 3:AM Magazine; point 8 suggested by Tomoe Hill, senior editor, at Minor Literature[s]. Fernando Sdrigotti lives in London. @f_sd