Roxane made this post over at HTMLGIANT about Modern Submission convenience.
I made a comment immediately after I read it but have been thinking about it.
The first things I submitted were poems when I was 17-18 years old. I didn’t own a computer or typewriter. The first submissions I made were laboriously hand printed. Even small poems took me forever because I have awful penmanship. I copied resume cover letters because I didn’t know what else to say. I was in high school.
I sent things to magazines I liked that had poems in them. I sent some to the big name literary magazines.
They were probably awful. Awful poems that were slaved over forever.
My first publication was when I was 18ish in a local DIY zine and it was an angst ridden thing about this woman I was madly in love with who thought I was a cute puppy.
When I got a little older I invested in a pack of 5 3.5″ floppy disks. I used the computers at the library or when I could afford it at Kinkos. I had read somewhere that the quality of paper and envelopes made a difference in being published. I bought these insanely expensive envelopes that I kept in a plastic gallon ziploc bag and very fine cream colored paper. I had to pay by the page so I spent a lot of time poring over things before printing them.
Most of the time though because I didn’t have money I just didn’t submit. The majority of magazines and things I saw that my work might fit cost money to submit, it cost money to buy postage and take the bus to the post office and I just didn’t have it.
These days I submit everywhere I feel is a good idea.
Sometimes if a place has a 3-5$ reading fee I can dash off and do some short articles for pennies at Text Broker. Some months I’m able to make 8-10 dollars that way and thus spend that on submission fees.
When I read about the ease of submission causing authors to be careless I was appalled. I know that I don’t have perfect grammar. I work very hard at it but it’s just not my best thing. I know that occasionally there will be an oops in formatting. I spell check and reread etc.
I agonize about submissions. I never submit if I haven’t thought about it long and hard. Of my finished work, I debate with myself on whether or not to send X piece to X zine.
It’s gut wrenching at times. More so because the most common rejection reason I’m told (as are most authors I assume) is that this piece is not right for us.
Given the frequency of this I’m having kind of an issue with myself. Is my judgement really that off?
Friday I was having this moment. It was a dose of double consciousness with a side of plain old self doubt. When I look over a contribute list and read what a magazine publishes sometimes I feel that I just shouldn’t send them anything based on the fact that I am not fancily educated. I don’t have books or chapbooks published by darling indie zines.
When publications use words like “diverse” and I read a lot of stories about White folks falling in love, or every contributor is an MFA candidate/already has one etc is diverse the word? I think about my stories that are usually not really about people falling in love in usual ways or I say cunt a lot I feel-
Okay I’ll just admit that I’ve been stewing all weekend thinking that maybe what I write isn’t “right” for any publication.
Yes I know. I have been published. There are people who like what I do but sometimes I feel that way and it stings.
I’m not saying that every word I write is inspired genius nor is every word I write fit for publication by anyone. It is just a feeling.
I forgot what my original point was.
Since I forgot my point I am going to go engage in my submission ritual for the day. Check formatting, re-read story. Recheck submission guidelines. Reread latest issue. Check contact info. Prepare cover letter, find author bio. Attach/cut paste story. Reread. Redo cover letter. Chew the inside of my cheek. Click send.