For this blog I wanted share some lessons I have learned as a wildlife photographer and applied to my writing submissions.
You may wonder how can submitting images and submitting your baby that you worked on for months and months be the same.
When I submit my images I submit them to book publishers, contests, and magazine editors.
When I submit my writing I submit to book publishers, contests, and magazine editors, but not always the same ones.
There are several important steps to submitting your work graphic or text. You need to be a harsh critic.
Take a deep breath and delete that sentence that does aid in the flow of the work. You may need to eliminate that image you adore, but doesn't quite fit your proposal.
Check your work for typos and and blurs. This shows you pay attention to the little details. Get a second opinion.
Yes, you have looked this over a dozen times. However a fresh set of eyes can see things you didn't notice.
Consider your submission carefully, then put it aside. Now it is time to focus on where your work will go.
Do some research so you send your work to the appropriate market. You need to put your proposal in the hands of someone who is looking for it.
Research publishers that specialize in your genre. If you write mysteries and you submit your work to a gardening magazine you are wasting your time and theirs. I wouldn't send my wildlife images to an architectural magazine.
Next you need to know a good bit of information about the the person you are submitting to before anything leaves your desk. Yes, I said person not company.
At this point you should know quite a bit about the company, it's time to dig deeper.
Addressing your submission to the editor is a quick way to get it put into the slush pile unread. Every publication has editors that specialize in part of the process.
One may handle images, another how to projects, while another concentrates on fiction. So addressing your cover letter to the wrong one will get you nowhere, fast.
Each of them has a stack of submissions cluttering their desks. They probably won't take the time to get your work to the appropriate person within the company. That's your job.
Now it is time to focus on what information that person requires in a submission. They may simply want a query letter and not your entire story. Maybe a short sample of your work is better for this individual.
Perhaps they want the end product. Sending to much or to little tells him or her you didn't spend the time to find out what they want.
You aren't ready to hit the print or send button yet. Did you remember to include your contact information? This is an obvious, yet frequently over looked detail.
Then there is the question of timing.
Some publications only accept submissions at specific times of the year. If you miss their deadline your acceptance chances get flushed to the slush pile. Others may only accept electronic submissions.
If you send your proposal via snail mail this tells your target audience you can't follow directions.
Now you know where your work is going, what to send and when to send it. Before it leaves your hands check your font. Yes, you may like that crazy font, but it has no place in your submission.
You want your work to be easy on the eyes. Times New Roman or Arial works best. Don't forget to double space your work and leave a one inch border.
If you are printing your work use plain white paper, pink, blue and green are pretty colors, but they make your work look amateurish.
Here you need to look professional. Yes this is a profession and you need to dress your work for the job.
Finally it is time to bring your end goal into view. Hit the send button, seal the envelope, you are proud of what you have accomplished it is time to share it with the world.
by S. J. Brown
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