Friday, February 28, 2014

Reading Towards Submission

...for writers!...

I was going to change the title of this writing, but it's too good to let go. It could be about something totally different. I could be plugging the newest version of "50 Shades of fill-in-the-blank" or starting a dialogue about something else - but I'm not.

 I would like to start a conversation about the process of reading publications, for writers, with the intent of determining if the maga/zine is appropriate for a specific story or article. The pros, articles, books, submission guidelines always say to read the publication before you submit. I "get it" and I agree. And I'll be honest: it isn't easy for me.

I mean, the reading is easy. The determination if my work will fit, has a chance of being selected, is difficult. It's relatively easy for me to read a publication and recognize that my work won't fit. The style of writing may be vastly different from mine, the content may differ from their description (or my interpretation of their description is probably more accurate than faulting their description), or there may be other flags where I feel that my writing or a particular piece would not be chosen. Or I may read some pieces and decide I don't want to be included in this publication; again the actuality of the writing may differ from the description or there's, well, a not so hidden slant. Or something.

But it is not so easy for me to know if my work is a fit. I could be mistakenly basing this on prior rejections; I know that every publication - or most of them - get many more submissions than they can publish. Sometimes I think my work would be a fit - maybe - probably.

What do you look for when you're reading publications with the intent of determining suitability of your writing to the maga/zine? One example which comes to mind is from a few years ago: a writing friend and I were discussing submission options and she noted that one publication under consideration seemed to not have any profanity in any of the pieces; the piece I was looking to place did have (shock) profanity. Or if a publication is sci-fi, I won't submit a slice of life piece.

Some obvious things come to mind: length of writing, dialogue, poetry versus prose or first person versus third person, hit-me-over-the-head moral or draw-your-own-conclusion, etc.

What do you look for in a publication in which you want to be published?

What are your red flags of either "yes, pick me!" or "hell no, you're not getting my work" or "they'd boot me out of the park;" how do you know? Or how do you guess?

Do you target your writing to publications? Or do you target publications for a particular work?

What are your criteria? And how do you know?