7 Rookie Mistakes I Made When Submitting My Writing (that you can easily avoid)

In Tips & Tricks by Susan Maccarelli | | 18 Comments

7 Rookie Mistakes I Made When Submitting My Writing - Beyond Your Blog

Sometimes I like to think I am all-knowing when it comes to blogging, writing submissions, and getting published. The truth is, I’ll never know everything, and neither will you. While I am happy to report that I am over the initial submission vertigo, I definitely have lots of experience making all the mistakes I tell you not to make.

Here are just a few of the rookie mistakes I made when I first started submitting my writing, so that I may help others with my former ineptitude!

7 Rookie Mistakes I Made When Submitting My Writing (that you can easily avoid) - Beyond Your Blog

Forcing It

This refers to the times I wrote something pretty good and also had a strong desire to be published somewhere, so I convinced myself that my pretty good piece was a fit, even when it probably wasn’t. Just because I wrote something funny doesn’t mean I should submit to a humor site that publishes a totally different brand of funny than I write. I’m looking at you McSweeney’s, and I’m sorry (times 10).

Trying Too Hard

I had a major crush on Mamalode after interviewing Publisher/CEO, Elke Govertsen on my podcast. I was going to get on Mamalode! I read the site often and convinced myself I could write the poignant and heartfelt stories the site is known for. The problem was, when this humorist tried to write that way it came out dry and boring. I submitted anyway thinking maybe I was fitting the mold. Not so much. After several flops, an editor there suggested I send them some humor, and it turns out I can write humor with a heartfelt twist – who knew?!

Trigger Happy

Step away from the submit button!” is what someone should have told me shortly after I started submitting my work. After a few acceptance I started to think my writing was gold and would send something immediately after writing it with barely a quick read-through/edit. It was a case of writers beer goggles, without any adult beverages. This resulted in some seriously sub-par writing going out to editors. I quickly learned that sitting on a piece for at least a day and doing some additional editing that involved reading out loud, taking out fluff, and reading with a fresh set of eyes gave a major boost to my work.

A case of writers beer goggles, without any adult beverages Click To Tweet

Simultaneously Submitting

“Susan! Tell me you didn’t!”

Yep, I did.

I didn’t need to be told twice, but I needed to be told once. In my case, it was more a case of poor tracking than not knowing better. I submitted a piece to BlogHer and a week later forgot I had posted it there. I subsequently sent it to BonBon Break and they accepted it. Yay! Later that same day BlogHer reached out letting me know they were featuring my piece, reminding me that I had indeed already posted it there. Ugh. I had to then go back to BonBon Break to let them know I had double dipped. It is a wonder that they ever published me again considering the next rookie mistake also played out at BBB…

Multiple Submissions

Slightly different from simultaneous submissions, this is where a writer sends multiple pieces into the submission pool of the same publication before they have heard back on any of them.

Dear BonBon Break, My name is Susan and I didn’t know any better.

There were several months where I submitted EVERY. BLOG POST. I WROTE. to BonBon Break. I later interviewed Editor-in-Chief Val Curtis for a piece I was doing on submission etiquette and she listed multiple submissions as an annoyance for editors. At first I thought: ‘What kind of tool bag does that?

Then I realized I was Home Depot.

RELATED: 7 Common Mistakes Writers Make that get Submissions Rejected

After-Publication Panic

Once when submitting to a publication I accidentally attached a draft of the submitted post instead of the edited piece. The difference between the two was that the draft was about as polished as it would be had my 5 year-old written it, and the final draft was hilariously funny and brilliant (no lack of confidence here). I had not heard back after a few weeks and went into my email to make sure I had sent it only to find my mistake.

I quickly sent the correct final draft with an explanation and note of apology. I never heard back and assumed I had annoyed them enough that they were not going to run the piece. Then weeks later, they did!My awesome piece was up for all the world to see! Except they had published THE DRAFT.

PANIC MODE!

SOUND THE ALERT!

I sent emails. I tweeted. I Facebook messaged. I snail mailed. I singing-telegrammed, and I even had a flying circus pilot write it in smoke. Guess what version of the post remained live for several years until the site recently folded?

Drafty Drafterson.

Self Sabotage Pitch Letter

Given all of blunders, it is no surprise that I experienced some self-doubt. This manifested in sending email submissions and pitches with phrasing along the lines of ‘I’m not sure if this is the right fit but…’.

If you are not sure, do some more research and send somewhere you are sure, but please, please don’t pitch with wording that tells them upfront your piece probably isn’t worthy.

There are plenty of other blunders I somehow steered clear of, including missing deadlines and not following the host site on social media, but I am anal retentive and a suck-up, so those were never an issue for me.

7 Rookie Mistakes I Made When Submitting My Writing (that you can easily avoid) Click To Tweet

Leave a comment with your biggest submission faux pas!

7 Rookie Mistakes I Made When Submitting My Writing - Beyond Your Blog


About the Author

Susan Maccarelli

Susan Maccarelli is the creator of Beyond Your Blog, a site helping bloggers successfully submit their writing for publishing opportunities beyond their personal blogs. She also offers online training and consulting to new bloggers looking for direction on submitting their writing for publication. Susan has interviewed dozens of editors from publications like The New York Times, Huffington Post, Brain, Child, Chicken Soup For The Soul, The Washington Post, and speaks at many respected writing and blogging conferences.

18 Comments on “7 Rookie Mistakes I Made When Submitting My Writing (that you can easily avoid)”

  1. I love this, Susan. You’re so funny and yes, your heart felt pieces with a twist of humor are magic. I had a trigger finger when it came to hitting the submit button once I’d been published a bit. I convinced myself that my best work was my first work; I’d write it and submit it right then! Hahaha. Now, thankfully, I have learned to write, walk away for at least 24 hours, then come back and do my first edit. I guess it was the rush from being published, I just wanted to keep the flow going. So much of what I’ve learned is from your amazing site and community at Beyond Your Blog. Thank goodness for you!!

    1. Thanks Mary! It is still hard for me to wait sometimes, but I am always glad I did. So glad you are part of this community. xo!

  2. Writer’s beer goggles – well put 🙂 It’s so strong, that exhilaration when you finish something. But I have finally got over doing submitting too early – the bubble-burst of reading a rejected piece with fresh eyes is excruciating enough to put paid to it ?

  3. Some of those made me laugh out loud! I’m definitely guilty of sending the “I’m not sure it’s a good fit….” one.
    Thanks for this great post!
    Now if I may give a piece of criticism? (sorry!) The font color of the comments is very hard to read. Any way it can be changed to black?

    1. We are working on a site redesign and will take a look at font color if the new scheme seems tricky to read. Thanks!

  4. Hey Susan,
    This is really helpful. I definitely made the mistake of simultaneously submitting. After submitting multiple different pieces in the past and hearing absolutely nothing from both the Huffington Post and Thought Catalog, I sent one of my blog posts to both of them again expecting to hear nothing back. To my surprise, HuffPo got back to me the next day with some edits and published it within a week. To my even bigger surprise, TC published my piece without asking me to make any edits. This was obviously not how I expected things to turn out. Luckily, I talked with the TC editor and I’m within the terms of both publications but I will not make this mistake again.

    1. It is definitely hard with those publications that don’t get back to you in some cases and you have to assume a rejection after some time passes. It sounds like it turned out well for you!

  5. These are great Susan, thank you for sharing your blunders to try to spare our own (or at least make us feel less alone about our own)! I was just working on a pitch that included something along the lines of “This might not be exactly what you are looking for…” Eek! Typing it here, it does sound silly.

    1. I know – looking back it seems silly, but I did it! And I have gotten many pitches like that.

  6. Lol! Writer’s beer goggles. I’ve had those. Thank you a million times for this blog. I subscribed about a month or so and am just now getting brave enough to start submitting my posts outside my blog.

  7. Fun piece, and I’ve made many of those blunders. My own biggest rookie mistake was freaking out at the first sign of interest. The assistant of a high-profile publisher nibbled at a query I sent. Her email was written in an informal tone, so I intended to start my response “Hello, Mary.” Well, with my heart racing and my mind numbed, I left the “o” off “Hello.” And yes, I sent it like that. Not surprisingly, a major contract did not materialize out of this correspondence.

  8. I feel so much better, hearing that you’ve had some oopsies, too! You really helped me out with my own BlogHer/Huffington Post double acceptance. I learned on that one and REALLY appreciated your quick advice!

  9. Multiple submissions and multiple acceptances are not such a horrible problem to have! Congrats on your success, and thanks for sharing both your success and blunders with us!

  10. Thank you for this post, Susan! I’m afraid I’ve made the mistake of sending my work in right away instead of sitting on it for awhile–even overnight–to make sure it’s up to snuff.
    Your writing is so humorous, friendly, and down-to-earth, it made me feel better about my slip-ups and down days because I know I’m not the only one.
    Thanks for the encouragement.

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