Thursday, November 23, 2006

Get Organized

Submitting to markets can become rather tedious. I’ve found that the time I spend in finding markets and preparing submissions is time taken from writing. I have a few tips for minimizing the amount of time spent with this particular business end of writing.

Use a template for cover letters. A template is like a cookie cutter so that all copies look similar and uniform. Fill in the parts that won’t change (like author’s bio, your address and signature line). Then leave space for the recipient’s address, greeting line and verbiage specific to the work or the person you’re submitting to. Now, whenever you need to submit your query letter, start with the template and fill in the gaps.

With each work you complete, take a moment (the sooner the better) to write a simple synopsis of the story (for short stories, this should be only a few sentences). It should read like the back of a book, spurring interest in the story. Eventually, you will plug this into your template when submitting to markets.

Now that your work is complete and you know the word count, find all the markets that match up (fantasy writers, check out this article: finding a fantasy market). Make an ordered list of the markets you want to submit your work to. If you’ve already found and prioritized markets ahead of time, you won’t need to periodically repeat the same search. I advise keeping a link to each magazine in the list so that you can quickly lookup the address and confirm that they are still in existence and accepting submissions.

Another time saver for me is to purchase large envelopes ahead of time from the post office (my personal choice is the more expensive type used for photos because it doesn’t bend easily). Then all I need to do is print the story and cover letter. At the post office I go to, there’s even a machine set up that will calculate the correct postage and sell the appropriate stamp, keeping me free of any frustratingly long lines (unless I need more high quality envelopes).

By using these tips, you should be able to flip stories from one market to the next efficiently and painlessly. The amount of time needed to apply changes to the template, print and go should be hardly noticeable. It just takes a little organization up front.

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