Editor’s Geeble – Issue #128
I recently attended a new convention, HELIOSphere, in Tarrytown, New York. They invited me to moderate a couple of panels aimed at new writers. My fellow panelists offered some excellent answers to audience questions, three of which I’ll share here.
How do I know if my work is ready to submit?
This is an important one. A common mistake new writers make is to finish their story, and in the rush of excitement at having completed their work, immediately begin sending it out into the world. That’s a first-class ticket to rejection — no matter how much experience an author has, the first draft of a story is not the version that should be submitted. Instead, try waiting a few days and then reading the story with fresh eyes. No doubt you’ll find errors in continuity (e.g., a character with blue eyes at the start described as having brown eyes toward the end), spelling, grammar, and more. Take time to carefully edit your work until it is as polished as possible, and then give it to someone you trust to give you honest feedback on how well it works — ideally someone with significant writing experience of their own or at least an avid reader.
How do I find places to submit my work?
You’ve finished your first story and are ready to send it out for publication. But where can you find an appropriate outlet? While there are still paper magazines and books like Writer’s Digest that include lists of publications to which you can submit, the problem with them is that their lists quickly go stale. Online sources are updated regularly and include links directly to submission opportunities. Excellent sources for up-to-date publications open to new submissions include Ralan.com, Submission Grinder, and of course a simple Google search for “fiction submissions.”
What options are available to help me improve my writing?
Programs like Viable Paradise and Clarion are wonderful opportunities to learn from the best what it takes to succeed as a writer. There are also college writing workshops and MFA programs. However, they require time and usually a financial investment. If that is the case for you, consider alternatives like joining a writers’ support group near home. Look for one that includes a mix of novice to published writers, and offers opportunities to critique one another’s work. Alternately, you can find an online group, like Critters.org and Hatrack Writers Workshop.