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Writing 101: Submissions




Hey all!


It is our first Wednesday of the year and that means the return of our 101 series!


Today we'll be covering submissions! Where to find them, some basic terminology to help you understand them, and some of the best ways to track them. We're also going to include some external resources and some miscellaneous tips.


What are Submissions?


Submissions are colloquially used to refer to writing that you submit that isn't longform. (Longform fiction that you send out for consideration is typically referred to as querying.) If you're sending out a poem, short story, or article to a press for consideration, that is typically referred to as a submission.


Where to Find Submissions


You can find presses that are accepting submissions from a lot of places. There are always anthologies, websites, zines, and journals that are looking for some kind of content. Often you'll see them listed as being in an "open submission period" but sometimes you'll also see them listed as an "open call" or "call for submissions."


If there's a specific magazine or press that you'd like to work with, you can almost always find their open calls on their website, which is a great place to start. (Seriously, it's a blessing to have a goal as specific as "I'd like to work with THIS place.")


But, that can also be very time consuming if you're someone that writes a lot of stories and is actively seeking publication. It's also not the best way to introduce you to new venues, or particularly efficient if your goal is just to "submit more." Plus, if you're new to the world of writing -- or even the world of submitting your writing -- you might not have any dream presses in mind to work with.


Here are a couple easy options:


  • Our Open Submissions Page We have an open submissions page directly on our website where we log some of the coolest available calls. Since our website is geared more toward the community, we tend to be a bit more selective about the calls that we host, so this is far from a one stop shop. But, if we do host a call, you know that it's at least somewhat vetted. It will have a transparent payment policy, and we'll have been in contact with whoever is hosting the call to make sure they're comfortable being promoted here. We also screen for presses with shady histories or weird vibes.

  • The Horror Tree This is much closer to being a one stop shop for submissions. This is a website that catalogs a lot of horror calls from a wide variety of sources. You can sort by deadline, submission type, and it can be a great place to find new corners of the writing space to submit to.


While those are both great starting places, one of the absolute best things you can do for yourself if you're serious about writing is to put yourself into a space where you run across new submission calls organically. This is not something that it's easy to set up overnight, it's more about curating your online experience, and here are a couple things to get you started.


  • Follow your favorite presses on social media

  • Follow your favorite creators

  • Sign up to creative newsletters (but not so many you get overwhelmed)


Most the calls that we host on our submissions page are things I saw first on Twitter. And once you find yourself in a community of writers, you'll find that you hear about calls a lot more often, which is to everyone's benefit.



Basic Submission Terminology


Without covering every single term that you're likely to find on a call, we did just want to run through some of the terminology that we have seen people get confused about, or which are commonly misinterpreted.


Multiple Submissions:


If a press says that they're not open to receiving multiple submissions, this means that they're not going to want to accept more than one piece per author for a single call. Sometimes they'll elaborate on this, but generally speaking it will not bar you from submitting to other open calls through the press.


This is commonly confused with "simultaneous submissions" which is altogether a different thing.


Simultaneous Submissions


If a submission is simultaneous, it means that it's being considered by more than one venue at a time. While we are big advocates for simultaneous submissions at The Scoop, not all presses are willing to consider work that is being considered elsewhere. It's important to check before submitting if this is something a press allows.


Submission Window


Sometimes you'll see a press listed with a submission window instead of a deadline. This means that the venue won't be accepting pieces BEFORE OR AFTER a certain date.


This seems very obvious, but it's a common complaint that I see with presses where people are more considerate of the final deadline, but perfectly willing to submit pieces early, before the window is open.


Reprints


Again, this one seems obvious, but in a digital age there is some confusion around it.


A "reprint" is any submission you have that has already been published. Published, in this context, means in any print or digital format. While SOME venues will make exceptions, this generally includes publication on a personal website, a newsletter, a public portfolio, or even a Patreon.


Tracking Submissions


If you are going to be in the practice of submitting a lot, it's good to keep track of your submissions. You want to know what all you have considered where, which stories are available, and a lot of writers find comfort in keeping submission stats (numbers about how many stories you submit, how many are accepted vs rejected.)


I personally like keeping a submissions journal because I'm old I guess? I find it very cathartic.


But a lot of authors I know use spreadsheets to track what they have under consideration each year, and of course there are also websites that will do that for you. The most widely recommended seems to be Query Tracker.


Conclusion


This one is for the beginners, but hopefully we did something to make the process feel just a bit less daunting.





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