I’m very pleased to share a guest post from the lovely Sarah Collie, where she discusses that nerve racking moment when you decide to send one of your beloved stories out for submission, and what happens next…
Confidence as a writer is a tricky thing. Maybe you’re one of the (few) lucky ones who never doubt your work, but I’ve discovered that, initially at least, it can seem incredibly daunting to send off your work for the first time, even the second time. Sending your stories off feels like packing your kid off to school without knowing if they’ll have a good day where they get lots of praise, or even just taught well or if their favourite teacher will have a hangover and be snappy and grumpy and they’ll get beaten up and their lunch money stolen by bullies.
I recently sent off my first piece of work to an online publication, if I’m honest then I really didn’t expect much from it however I knew that unless I took that leap of faith then I’d procrastinate again and again wondering if my work was good enough for publication. I took some great advice from a friend who is also a fellow writer, called Gill Hoffs, and submitted to a publication called Pure Slush. She assured me that my work was good and that a professional editor wouldn’t ever send an email saying “Honestly? Most awful piece I’ve ever seen!” At the very worst I would at least get some advice on how to improve my writing. So I wrote the story, I edited, I edited some more, I procrastinated so much that I nearly talked myself out of it. But late one night with her words ringing in my ears I hit the send button.
She was right. Not only did I get a surprisingly swift reply, especially since it was over the Christmas holidays, but it was accepted! I started to get feedback on my work from readers and from other writers, it has been an incredibly positive and rewarding experience and now that the first terrifying time is out of the way I have so much more confidence about doing it again in the future. I’m looking at several other online publications and what they are looking for as well as entering competitions that I would have talked myself out of before.
If you do get a rejection then that’s alright as well. It’s a learning experience. Not every editor or every publication is going to be suitable for your style, but keep going. Taking that first step can be scary, but letting your work stay hidden in a drawer or on a computer and never sending it off is far sadder.
Basic tips before you do.
Write what you love, it comes across if you are only writing because you think it’s what people want to read.
Research. Glaring flaws are irritating to the reader and are sloppy practice, obviously you can’t know everything but with the internet at your fingertips there’s no excuse for not spending a little time finding out.
Leave your work at least one day after you have written it before you go back to edit, This allows you to see mistakes that you might otherwise have missed. I edit to death but if I didn’t then I’d worry I wasn’t sending my best work out.
If you have someone that you trust to read over your work then let them, sometimes incredibly obvious mistakes get missed if you have read the same story ten times over.
Read the submission guidelines for each publication carefully before you submit. This is an important one, it shows that you have bothered to find out what they are looking for as well as how they prefer it is presented.
Finally, send your stories out into the world; if you have put in the work making them good and strong then they will flourish.
Sarah enjoys writing in a few different genres depending on her mood as well as on when and where inspiration strikes. She loves travelling, meeting new people and trying new things. Sarah is studying part-time with the Open University for a degree in English Literature. She hasn’t won any awards yet but is working on it.
Click to read Sarah’s flash fiction: Surfing the Storm