Tue 28 Apr 2015
by Lori Sambol Brody
Your cell phone chirps to alert you of an incoming email. Will it be an Evite from a friend, a notification from Netflix, or a response from a literary journal you’ve submitted to? Upon checking your inbox, you see an e-mail “Lit Journal X re: [Lit Journal X] My Fabulous Story.” Your heart beats double-time, your stomach feels like it’s full of fluttering birds.
And then you open the email.
You reread it.
Congratulations! Lit Journal X wants to publish your story!
After celebrating with chocolate, champagne, or 50 year old whiskey, what do you do next? I’ve put together a checklist to ensure I thank Lit Journal X, notify other publications to which I’ve submitted my story, and, upon publication, market the story.
Before the Story Is Published
- Send a thank you note to Lit Journal X, addressing it to the editor who sent the acceptance, expressing how excited you are about seeing “My Fabulous Story” in that journal. Because of course you are. You wouldn’t have sent it to that journal if you wouldn’t be excited. Sometimes the editor will need you to confirm that your piece is still available, that you agree with the intellectual property rights you are giving them, and provide a biography. Timely provide that information to the editor.
- Immediately withdraw “My Fabulous Story” from consideration from all other literary journals, following the instructions on Submittable or on the journal’s website if the journal accepts e-mail or snail mail submissions or has their own submission manager. Since you keep track of all your submissions on a list or spreadsheet, it should be easy for you to do. Tell the journals that the piece has been accepted elsewhere, thank them for their consideration of the story, and let them know that you’re looking forward to their next issue. Most of the editors for literary journals don’t get paid for their work, and it’s nice to let them know how much we appreciate their dedication to publishing our stories.
- Lit Journal X may send you suggested edits, questions, or proofs. Make sure you timely follow up with them.
On Publication Day
- When you see your piece published, send an e-mail to the editors you have been working with thanking them again for including your piece in the new issue of Lit Journal X. You should read the issue – or at least a portion of it – and mention to the editors something you liked, another story or poem or the look of the journal. This is not only about supporting the writing and publishing community – of which you are a part – but also recognizing the hard work of the editors who usually dedicate their time as a labor of love.
- Market “My Fabulous Story.” You should modify your endeavors to fit your specific circumstances. For example:
- Post one notification each on Facebook and Twitter (you don’t want to annoy anyone by constant promotions).
- Send e-mails to friends who are (amazingly enough) not on social media or do not regularly check their Facebook pages.
- Post an entry on your blog regarding the publication of “My Fabulous Story” and update your blog’s publication list.
- Submit news of your publication to Pamelyn Castro’s Flash Fiction Flash Newsletter (to subscribe send an email to FlashFictionFlash-Subscribe@yahoogroups.com).
- Send a “yahoo” email to the Internet Writing Workshop list serv, which posts publishing successes once a week on its blog (http://internetwritingworkshop.blogspot.com/; to join see http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/ ).
- If you are involved in a community author’s group, notify the group of your publication. (Our local library has a local author’s group with a Facebook page.)
- Thank anyone who responds positively to your story. Contrary advice exists on re-Tweeting positive Tweets concerning your story. Most of the writers I follow do it, although I have read articles that re-Tweeting these comments is a breach of etiquette or bragging. Re-Tweet if you are comfortable doing so. I usually do since it appears to be socially acceptable in my Twitter-sphere.
- If you receive negative feedback to your story, you can either ignore or respond briefly with a note thanking them for reading and giving you constructive criticism. Do not engage a dialogue with your critiquers or belittle them.
And what if Lit Journal X has rejected your piece? I have a list for that as well. After drowning your sorrows with chocolate, champagne, or 50 year old whiskey:
- Send a quick note to Lit Journal X thanking the editor for considering your piece. Most journals put considerable time into reading your piece and “Your Fabulous Story” has gone through multiple readers. Where the editor has given you encouragement or feedback – one journal, in rejecting my story, sent me reader’s notations – mention this in your email. Editors are writers too and don’t like rejecting work: they know you have sweated (metaphorical) blood over your story.
- Note on your submission spreadsheet that your story was rejected. Specifically note if you received any encouragement, feedback, or if the journal asked you to send more work. While the latter may seem like a form rejection, that request is sincere. In the future, when you have a piece perfect for that journal, you can note in your cover letter, “Thank you for your encouragement on my piece ‘My Fabulous Story’” or “Thank you for your feedback on ‘My Fabulous Story.’ I made revisions pursuant to your suggestions and it was accepted elsewhere.”
- Take a look at “My Fabulous Story.” Was any of the feedback helpful? Do you feel like it needs another revision? If so, revise it or set it aside for revision.
- If your story doesn’t need revisions, send it to two other journals in the same “tier” as Lit Journal X.
These are the steps I follow and can be modified for your purposes. What do you do?
Lori Sambol Brody lives in the mountains of Southern California. Her short fiction has been published in Tin House Flash Fridays, New Orleans Review, WhiskeyPaper, alice blue review, Atticus Review, and elsewhere. Her first piece of non-fiction is forthcoming in Pithead Chapel and she will be participating in the chose-your-own-adventure at Lockjaw Magazine. She can be found on Twitter at @LoriSambolBrody.