There is a lot of discussion on craft. Most of the answers from the panel aren’t new to me, but good reminders for all writers.
• Be an active part of a larger community of writers
• Read critically all the time even if you’re reading a children’s book
• Read widely and deeply.
• Read everything, craft books, non-fiction, and fiction, literary, poetry. Expose yourself to good writing.
• Work on the whole package. The piece of work, the query letter, the cover letter. Present a professional package.
• Don’t write in a tunnel. Many writers buy the Writer’s Market and just send their work in randomly without ever reading the publication or knowing the market.
• Master your craft, always keep learning. Open yourself up to new learning experiences.
Because all of the members of the panel have been editors or judges in writing contests at one time they give good examples of what not to do when submitting your work based on their experiences. Their do’s and don’ts follow:
• Don’t send in a submission to a contest with a rejection letter from another contest in the envelope. Yes, this happens.
• Don’t send in crumbled, tea stained, or marked up work.
• Don’t use fancy fonts or sparkly paper. Use professional fonts and normal white paper.
• Don’t use a copyright mark, the first sign to an editor you’re an amateur. Read up on copyright info if you don’t understand why.
• Don’t think the editors are going to steal your work. This doesn’t happen.
• Don’t call the editor and ask why your submission wasn’t taken. They are looking for work that fits into their vision for the journal. Try another market.
• Don’t say you don’t have time to read. Take the time to read it will make you a better writer.
• Do read the publications back issues which are often available online.
• Do follow the submission instructions; they are there for a reason.
• Do consider the literary journal’s reputation and where you would like to see your work.
• Don’t give up. Be persistent and keep writing.
• Don’t tell the editor your mother really likes the piece or you think it’s better than whats been published previously in their journal.
• Don’t tell the editor you’ve never been published. They take unpublished writers work all the time, they are looking for good work.
• Don’t compare your piece to other literary stars. I.e. “This horror story is better than Steven King’s first story.” Good work speaks for itself.
Today, what do or don’ts could you add to the list based on your creative writing experiences? Now get back to work!
The Writing Nag