Today we welcome Mandy Brown, who’s going to share with us some submission do’s and don’t from an editor’s POV.
Mandy Brown is the former Managing Editor for eSteampunk, an e-magazine and Amazon bestseller.
Pet Peeves from a Steampunk Editor: Some Dos and Don’ts
By Mandy Brown
I was a writer long before being hired as the Managing Editor for eSteampunk, and what I wanted the most then was some kind of direction on how to submit my work. How do you write a cover letter? What does it mean when it says that multiple submissions aren’t allowed but simultaneous ones are? I had so many questions, and the publishing world became a mystery to me just as the my writing path started to become more clear. Now I’m also on the other side of things, evaluating submissions and sending responses, and managing eSteampunk’s daily workings and needs. As its editor, I’ve developed a better understanding for how editors see submissions, and I’ve developed some pet peeves. Hopefully they’ll give you the insight I didn’t have and help you on your road to publication!
1) Cover Letter Crutch
A big mistake I see when reading submissions is that writers feel the need to tell me more than necessary about their piece. Cover letters are meant to introduce you to the editor. It’s your first impression. When you spend time to tell them about the characters’ personal histories and deep desires, you’re watering down your piece, and often I find I don’t want to read the piece after the cover letter tells me so much. When you explain your piece in the letter, you’re giving me the impression that you don’t think your piece will stand well by itself and using the cover letter as a crutch. If you don’t have confidence in your work, why should we?
Greet the Editor-in-Chief or the Managing Editor in your salutation line. Name the piece you are submitting and provide a word count (for prose) or line count (for poetry). State whether or not the submission has been previously published and if it is also being sent to other places. And write a bio if the guidelines asks for one. But that’s all you really need.
2) The Ignored Revision Request
It’s been my experience that revision requests tend to be rare, which may explain why writers see “needs more work” and assume it’s a rejection letter. I send revision requests out from eSteampunk when I believe in a piece but also believe that it needs to shine a little more, needs a little polish. It’s always difficult for me to send a revision request out because I’m never sure if I’m going to see it again, and (lean in close as I whisper a secret) I really want to see it again! It’s hard to let a piece that shows so much promise go back to the writer, and it’s even more disappointing when I never hear back.
If you get a revision request, respond one way or another. A good editor will respect your decision either way, but an editor who takes the time to send a revision request, deserves a moment of your time in response.
3) The Burned Writer
I hate sending out rejections as much as I hate getting them. Every time eSteampunk gets a new submission, I get butterflies and hope it’s the next piece we accept. The unfortunate truth is we can’t accept everything that comes our way.
Believe it or not, editors receive scalding emails from rejected (and even revision requested) authors. It’s absolutely okay to write such emails, but don’t hit the send button. You can get your name blacklisted with that publisher, and editors of different magazines talk to each and know each other. It would be a shame to let a brilliant piece of writing later on be overshadowed in a moment of rejection pain.
It’s sometimes okay to ask for feedback. I try to provide that for writers who submit for eSteampunk, but I usually withhold the comments until a writer asks for them. Be careful not to ask for such feedback while you’re still bruised. It can be easy to take offense online.
Above all keep writing and submitting! I remember the names of people who persevere and send more work to us, even after getting rejected multiple times. (Another secret, I’m rooting for them!)
So there you have it, some of my biggest pet peeves as an editor. I hope they’ve given you some insight on how an editor might view your submission. It’s important to think about how you and your writing come across when you submit work, but it’s also just as important to see editors as human beings rather than robots just ready to hit the rejection button. Life of a writer can be hard, but it’s well worth it. Press onward! There are more cheering you on than you probably know, myself included.