Do You Follow These 7 Rules of Etiquette When Submitting Your Writing?

In Tips & Tricks by Susan Maccarelli | | 16 Comments

Do You Follow These 7 Rules Of Etiquette When Submitting Your Writing

Submitting your writing for consideration on websites is not usually a high interaction activity, however, it still calls for a certain etiquette.  While not always necessary in getting your writing accepted, blog submission etiquette goes a long way with editors, and could definitely earn you some brownie points with certain publications!

I have found that following these 7 simple rules has helped me keep my elbows off the table when submitting my work and even earned me a gold star a few times.

Do You Follow These 7 Rules Of Etiquette When Submitting Your Writing

#1 Leave Your Mark

You should be visiting the site(s) you are most interested in frequently.  This helps give you an idea of the types of writing they tend to publish before you submit anything.  Reading comments and checking out social media share stats in the post headers can give you an idea of what types of posts have the most success on a given site.  As you are visiting, be sure to let them know you were there by commenting on posts you like.  Reading and commenting on one post per day on a site you are targeting for submission, only takes about 5 minutes in most cases, and can go a long way with editors.  You may not think this is the case for larger sites, but while the head honcho may not see your comment, the section editor will.

#2 Follow

Leslie Marinelli (Editor In Chief for In The Powder Room) summed it up best when she said ‘Buy me dinner before you stick your tongue down my throat!’.  When preparing to submit a post for consideration, you should be sure you are following the site you are submitting to on social media.  This doesn’t mean you have to follow them 10 different ways or join new social media platforms you are not on just to follow them, but you should follow them on at least the sites you frequent.

#3 Subscribe

Who doesn’t love a new subscriber.  99 if not 100% of the sites you consider submitting to will have a newsletter you can sign up for.  Sign up for it.  This will keep you in the loop, help you learn more about the best fit writing for that site, and may even provide submission opportunities and updates in some cases.

#4 Share

You always knew that sharing was good manners in daily life, and that goes for submitting writing too.  If your writing is accepted, the site will most likely promote your writing/post via social media (often to a wider audience than your own) and/or  their newsletter.  Doing your part to share posts you find on their site is very important and just good manners.  I remember thinking that sharing to my tiny audience didn’t mean much at the beginning, but these sites are looking to expand their readership too, so sharing content is always important.  Be sure to tag the site and author in your share for extra brownie points :o).

#5  Read the Submission Guidelines

All of them. I know it isn’t the most compelling stuff, but read the submission guidelines.  Please. Please. Please.  If the guidelines tell you to include your email and bio in the body of your post, do it.  If the guidelines tell you to email everything in a Word document formatted a certain way, do it.  If the guidelines ask you to use all caps and Wingdings font, do it!  I had an editor accept a submission from me once and specifically comment on how I had followed all of the instructions, which was apparently rare.  You will also see guidelines around whether they publish original vs. existing work, specific subject matter they are interested in etc. Follow directions.

#6 Submit Best Fit Work

I have been guilty of submitting writing to a site because I thought it was good and it was a site I aspired to be on, even though I knew it wasn’t the best content fit for the site.  Don’t do it.  They want to feel like you know their site and are submitting thoughtfully.    Once you have been hanging around their site, following them on social media, and reading their newsletter, you will have a good idea of the type of writing they are looking for.  Tailor your submission accordingly.  If you are dying to get published on a site and have a great piece that is just not a good fit, check out other places to submit it and wait for a better fit piece for that site.

#7 Be A Good Loser

If your submission is not accepted (or you never hear back), don’t take it personally.  If they send you specific feedback about why it was not a good fit, jump for joy and use it to improve the next time. If they reject it with no reason given, you can always do some editing and resubmit or submit it to a different site, or publish it on your own site.  No one gets accepted every time (and if they do, we don’t like them very much :o).

My rule of thumb when first submitting my work to various sites, was to focus on one site at a time for several weeks before submitting my first piece for consideration, since following these tips does take a little time and effort.

Questions about submission etiquette?  Leave us a comment or question about minding your blogger Ps and Qs in the comments.


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.

16 Comments on “Do You Follow These 7 Rules of Etiquette When Submitting Your Writing?”

  1. Hey, the new site looks great! I had a question. How do most sites feel about simultaneous submissions? I assumed not to do that but I have seen the same post on different sites so I wondered.

    1. If it is a site that runs existing posts from your blog and doesn’t require them to be first run, a lot of times they are be okay with it. If it is a site who wants an original that has never been published anywhere before, I typically submit only there until it either 1) gets accepted 2) gets rejected (then I submit somewhere else or post on my own blog) or 3) if I don’t hear back in a reasonable amount of time (typically for me that is a month, but it depends on the site), I will publish on my own blog or submit elsewhere. In the last scenario, if they accept it after you have already submitted somewhere else, you would want to let them know the status and make sure they still want to publish it, or see if you can withdraw the submission from anywhere else you sent it.

  2. Excellent advice! I am a new writer/blogger and always need tips like these to be sure I am following etiquette. I want to have a stellar reputation from the beginning and am going to follow YOU for more great tips. I was glad to have found you through the SITS Sharefest! http://faithalongtheway.com

  3. Hi there. Still lovin’ the new site. These are good rules of thumb for most interactions where you seek to obtain some benefit yourself. Giving more than you get and being considerate really does work. Cool – I’ve just subscribed – I’m hoping I haven’t accidentally done it twice or thrice now! Haha – I used to think clubbing made you sleepy, now I know 4 kids and linkie parties are tougher!

    1. I use MailChimp for subscriptions and it won’t let you subscribe more than once, so you are all set. Glad you did, because I have a great newsletter coming out tomorrow – cheers!

  4. Ha, me too – I get compliments on having followed directions and it always shocks me. Like, didn’t we learn that in kindergarten? I have a pretty decent success rate with my submissions and I’m sure it’s because I do pretty much everything you suggest. The only thing I need to start doing more of is sharing other people’s stuff. I’m very supportive of other people’s work (commenting, following, etc.) but I don’t often share articles. Time to start!

    1. I tend to do things in bursts — one day i am a sharing piggy, the next i am a comment maniac.

      1. Can you tell I’m in a comment burst? I just binge-read your blog and went nuts 🙂 Someone could track the sleeping patterns of my kids based on my online activities!

  5. Excellent. Thanks for sharing these. Though they are pretty simple and straightforward looking at them now, I hadn’t really realized a few of them : ) Maybe they’ll come in handy sometime.

  6. Its true,

    If you need help from a person , you don’t walk to a stranger or do you?

    You go to friends..

    Blogging is no different, if you really wish to get published anywhere, you should First build relationship with the host.

    i love this post and just shared it.

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