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!
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?!
“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
“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…
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.
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.
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?
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!