Disclaimer: This is the way I operate as an editor for literary magazines. Some may operate like this. Some may not.

In March, I wrote an entry about what causes me to lose interest in a submission through the cover letter. Let’s talk about how to lose me in the work submitted.

  1. Reading submission guidelines is important. If the guideline says “story”, you don’t submit a traditional poem (prose poems can have narrative and I’m good with that). If the guideline states a specific word count, you adhere to that word count, even if you believe your work is so good it can ignore said word count. Trust me, your work won’t be exemplary enough to ignore the rules.
  2. Using your title of the work within the work may kill my interest depending on where you use it and how you use it. Avoid this as much as possible.
  3. When I catch typos early in your submission, it shows that you didn’t take the time to proofread your work, which indicates to me I shouldn’t take the time to read it.
  4. Using the wrong editor’s name in the cover letter demonstrates a lack of attention to detail on the submitter’s part. It will make me wonder about the quality of your work, and the attention to detail within.

Yes, your work may not be a fit for the journal you submitted to. However, you can reduce the risk of that happening, from the craft of creating the work, to the act of submitting said work. It’s up to you to do so.


Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. I like this level of strict attention.


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About J. Bradley

J. Bradley's is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals including decomP, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. He was the Interviews Editor of PANK, the Flash Fiction Editor of NAP, and the Web Editor of Monkeybicycle. He is the author of the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), the novella Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012), and the graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), illustrated by Adam Scott Mazer. He is the curator of the Central Florida reading series There Will Be Words and lives at iheartfailure.net.

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