Through my writers’ group, I’ve met far too many talented writers who are frozen with fear when it comes to submitting their work for publication. I can understand why; I went through it myself. For years I would whip up tsunami-sized excuses as to why my work wasn’t good enough to be inflicted on others. Then something happened: I finally let go of my fears and insecurities, and my work found its way into the inbox of a publisher.
That was back in 2011 and it was my first published story. It took a lot of courage for me to submit. I hesitated so long on my email ‘send’ button that my screen saver popped on! Since then, I’ve had over 40 short stories published in anthologies all over the world and have two YA series with the publisher Evernight Teen. And submitting now is so much easier – in fact, it feels great. Each story/ novel I send out is like a little soldier fighting my battle to become a full-time author. Some of them land winning blows, and some of them limp home ready to be amended and sent back onto the battlefield.
I know what you’re thinking: letting go is easier said than done. And you’d be right. You should never underestimate how hard this part of being a writer can be. To accept it, you need to know in your heart that you can edit and fiddle with your piece ad nauseam and it will never be perfect. Why? Because creative work is subjective, and you can’t please everyone. No matter how hard you try or how talented you are, you will never have a perfect manuscript or story. Just read some reviews of popular books. Some people love them; some people hate them. This is life, and thank the creative gods – how boring would our world be if we all thought the same and enjoyed the same things?
So how do you find the courage to let your work go? There’s no a secret formula; just do it. The more you submit your work, the higher your chances of being published are. The only certainty I can promise you is that, if you submit nothing, you’ll get nothing. Your work deserves to be out there in the world, and guess what? The more you press that ‘send’ button, the easier the process becomes. Now, I’m not advising you to go on a crazy first draft submission spree – far from it. Edit and check your work and redraft until you have something to be proud of. It’s just when you have that fantastic story, novel, poem, novella, do something with it.
To aid you in your efforts, I’d recommend seeking out a local writers’ group. Being around a collection of creative people who know a little something about creative writing, who meet regularly, who can motivate and inspire you and of course, beta-read your work, can give you the momentum to start your journey to publication, and also rewards you with a support system to take along for the ride.
So, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this blog post and start looking around for publisher callouts so you can submit your work. You can find some here:
https://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com (free access)
https://duotrope.com (paid for, but worth it)
https://horrortree.com (free access)
https://www.darkmarkets.com (free access)
https://www.submittable.com (free submission software that also lists opportunities)
You may already be lucky enough to have a piece that fits a publisher’s wishlist that you could send right away, or perhaps a specific call-out will catch your eye and inspire you to write something completely different, whichever route you take I hope your destination is the same…published.
About Nicky Peacock
Nicky is an OCA Creative Writing student and published author and details of her books can be found here. She is currently on Level 3 of her degree. To learn more about Nicky, please see her blog and if you are in the Northamptonshire area you can join her free Corby Writers’ Group, Creative Minds by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Creative writing Programme Leader Barbara Henderson adds: This is a post that will, I hope, be inspirational to many students – big thanks to Nicky for writing it and huge congratulations on all her deserved successes. I’d just add a couple of words of caution! One is to remember that you can’t submit anything for OCA assessment that’s been published elsewhere first – so only send out work that you don’t want to submit or that’s already been through the assessment process. And the other thing I want to say is this: I’m a big fan of entering your work in competitions, as this can give you a morale boost and even lead to publication. But if you submit to agents or publishers before your work is good enough, it can have the opposite effect: it can mess up your chances with publishers and agents, as they rarely consider a piece twice and it can be very demoralising to have a string of rejections. Get as much experience, advice and feedback as you can first: it’s a bit of a bear pit out there!