If You Are Making One of These Mistakes, You May Be Submitting Too Much
advice from the Editor of Ilanot Review
Welcome to another installment of our publishing advice column, where editors and writers share insights into the submissions process.
By Marcela Sulak
These days many writers are constantly, and somewhat aggressively, encouraged to rack up the rejections—aim for 100, we were told at first. Recently, I’ve heard writers say they’ve scored 500, one even claimed 700, rejections in a single year.
While thinking of rejection in a positive light is absolutely wonderful, it is obvious that literary journals who do not charge a submission fee are beginning to drown under a flood of inappropriate submissions fueled, in part, by a frenzy to fail farther, fail faster (as Elizabeth Bishop might have put it).
Over at The Ilanot Review, we began to charge a submission fee (though the first 500 submissions are still free) for the sole purpose of discouraging inappropriate submissions. We editors are, of course, handmaidens and footmen of literature, but we, too, must sleep and eat sometimes, and take our children to the park and push them on swings and, you know, work for money, as well as write and read. We were distraught to discover that an increase of thousands of submissions each reading period has not resulted in a better quality journal issue.
You may not realize this, but if you are submitting on Submittable, and not paying a fee, that means the journal is paying each time you submit. If they say the first 300 or 500 submissions are free and after that they charge, it means that if you use multiple free submissions, then fewer other folks can use them. That’s not nice.
How much submitting is too much? As an editor, I’d suggest that if you engage in any of the behaviors below, you might be concentrating too much on volume and not enough on quality. Because, the goal of submitting should, at some point, be acceptance and publication; submitting is time consuming, so at a certain point, massive submission goals might be hurting your chances of publication.
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