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Other Submission Issues: Self-Publishing, Payment, Community, Confidence
Written by
Anna Leahy
December 2011
Written by
Anna Leahy
December 2011

Over the last couple of live chats of The Submission Mission, I've noticed that a lot of different issues affect our motivation and ability to submit our work. These topics and questions keep popping up in discussion threads too because, of course, we can't separate submission from the writing process and our writing (and larger) lives. 

While I make no attempt to be comprehensive here, I share a few links that might get She Writers thinking about why and when we submit our work (or don't) and might provide encouragement to keep at the writing and the submitting to which writing can lead.

I've been leery of self-publishing, in part because I hold a university position, and peer review rings almost sacred in the academy. Really, though, I like the editorial process and find it valuable in my writing process. I want to know my work will be scrutinized because that forces me to be serious about it before I let it out into the world. Still, I blog (and list that on my annual job review), I know several other writers who have successful self-published projects of various sorts, and Penguin publishing is getting into the DIY biz. Being anti-self-publishing has started to feel old-fashioned and elitist, but traditional publishing has its benefits. Here is a good overview of why self-publishing isn't for everyone (at least not yet): http://www.themillions.com/2011/11/reasons-not-to-self-publish-in-2011-2012-a-list.html.

Many literary journals pay only in copies, and that's fine. But when we submit our work, many of us are also looking for literary journal markets that pay, sometimes consciously trying those first or including at least one or two in a round of submissions. Payment makes us feel valued, helps us purchase that next ink cartridge or a subscription, and may indicate some extra stability in the journal itself. Add Crab Orchard Review to this list at The Review Review: http://www.thereviewreview.net/publishing-tips/show-me-literary-magazines-pay.

A lot of She Writers aren't connected to a physical writing community. We chime in on live chats and discussion boards. Some of us have Skype-based writing groups. But there's something wonderful about an in-person exchange among writers. Many communities have writing groups or workshops, often at the local public library, recreation center, or art center. Here's one option for fiction writers who are not MFA students in the DC area to find a writing community: http://workinprogressinprogress.blogspot.com/2011/12/free-fiction-workshop-at-gw-in-dc-apps.html.

And here's the guest post I wrote for a fellow She Writer's blog about balancing the isolation and community that fosters writing: http://www.architecturetravelwriter.com/2011/11/writing-in-isolation-writing-in-community/.

This insider piece about what a short story looks like to the editorial staff making publication decisions is refreshingly open and may be a wake-up call. Being true to our art is essential, but when we submit something, it's helpful to remember that someone will actually read our stories along with hundreds of others' stories too: http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/sbeaudoin/2010/06/read-my-finger-how-not-to-get-published/.

And here's an even tougher piece about careerism for the writer, one with a lot of sting: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/08/poetry-and-ruthless-caree_n_490451.html.

On the brighter side, here's Rebecca Skloot's take on how to put a big project together and not get overwhelmed: http://www.theopennotebook.com/2011/11/22/rebecca-skloot-henrietta-lacks/.

I've read a couple of pieces lately in which novelists mention their first, still-unpublished novels. We all get rejections, but it can be disheartening to spend time on a piece, especially on a large project, only to see it end up remaining in our garage or on our desktop. But we're not wasting our time, and this piece reminds us of that: http://cathyday.com/2011/03/27/no-writing-is-ever-wasted/.

There are always reason not to write, just as there are reasons not to submit your work. Write anyway: http://www.glimmertrain.com/b58schiavone.html.

Let's be friends

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