Writing Memoir: Sending to Publishers

Woman wearing a t-shirt saying “SEND IT.” Photo by Drew Farwell on Unsplash

Submitting work to journals and contests and publishers (lions and tigers and bears) is one big pain in the butt. It’s also a time-tested way of opening yourself up for rejection. More on the rejection part later in this post.

Once your work is safe for human consumption, the first step is to locate journals or publishers or agents that are a good match for your work. For memoir excerpts and personal essays, my go-to spots for info are:

Another effective way to match your work with a publisher is to read widelyin your sub-genre. When you’ve read something you admire that’s got elements in common with your own work, consider submitting to that journal or magazine — or that agent. Writers will often thank their agents in the acknowledgements section of a book.

Following other writers and writing coaches who post about publication opportunities can also give you valuable information about where to submit your work. One of my favorite bloggers to follow is Erica Verrillo, who writes here on Medium.

Once you’ve found places to submit your work, then come the tasks like record-keeping and filling out online forms. What makes submitting easier? Two things come to my mind: a system and some sisters. Or brothers, colleagues, a network, whatever face-to-face or online communities appeal to you.

Some writers use Duotrope as a system to keep track of their submissions. Many of my writer friends use Duotrope and love it. I’m too cheap to pay the $5.00 per month fee. If you submit only to publishers who use Submittable, that can be a complete (and free) tracking system. And some writers use their own record-keeping systems.

New online communities for writers seem to pop up daily. I’m drawn to those that are created by and for women, like Women Who Submit on Twitter, which offers info on open submissions and “submission parties,” both F2F and virtual.

Other online communities exist on Facebook. Most are “closed groups,” which means you must request membership. This process helps to insure that all members are real people with an interest in writing. If you see a group that looks interesting, ask to join it. You can always leave a Facebook group if it doesn’t work out.

The rejection part: Kim Liao’s post about aiming for 100 rejections a year says it all, and says it so well that it went viral. The gist of Liao’s argument is that aiming for 100 rejections means you are sending your work out. And goals are important.

“Collect rejections. Set rejection goals. I know someone who shoots for one hundred rejections in a year, because if you work that hard to get so many rejections, you’re sure to get a few acceptances, too.”

Where do you go for information and strategies on sending out your work? Help us out here, so we can get back to the fun part — the writing.

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