Emily's version - Literary Etiquette

Here at Barstow & Grand, we know that many of the works submitted to us come from new authors. Because of this, we decided to put together a small list of tips and tricks for successfully submitting to any literary journal.


Familiarize yourself with the journal.

Take a few minutes to peruse a publication’s website to gather information about their styles and preferences. Reading a publication’s mission statement and previously published issues will help you know the goals and direction of a publication, increasing the probability that you will submit work that aligns with those goals.

Don’t think you are the exception to the rules.

Always follow submission guidelines. For example, submitting six poems when a publication asks for five or fewer, or submitting a single-spaced prose piece when the journal asks for double, are simple mistakes that could jeopardize your entire submission. Respecting the requests of the editors helps you build positive rapport with them, giving you a better chance of getting your work accepted.

Be professional and polite.

Prepare for your submission like you would an interview. Do your research, proofread your materials, and be respectful when interacting with the staff. If issues arise with a submission or acceptance, courtesy, understanding, and patience will get you much further than lashing out. Editors are happy to work with amiable writers if a problem ever does arise.

Rejection doesn’t mean that you should never write or submit again.

The editors at almost all creative writing outlets are rooting for you and your writing career, even if your work does not make it into the journal. Receiving a rejection letter means that you are a real writer, because you are putting in the effort to actually submit your work. Rejection letters are not meant to be a personal attack, nor do they always mean that your writing is inadequate. It could just be that your piece does not fit as well as others, or that it could use more polishing before it is ready for the marketplace. *Rejections from Barstow & Grand usually include tips from our readers about how the piece could be improved, so a rejection is a good opportunity to get feedback and grow through reassessment and revision.*

Communication is key.

If you submit to multiple publications at once, be certain to withdraw your other submissions if the piece gets accepted elsewhere. And if you ever need answers beyond what is available on a publication’s website (and you’ve double checked!), never be afraid to contact the editors.