Poets & flash fiction writers, what do you do when you need to withdraw a single piece out of a submission of several pieces?
Poets and flash fiction writers submit work in batches. How do you withdraw one piece from the batch?
I know, I know, there is much on our minds these days other than literary magazines. Sometimes, when I get into a frenzy about world events, it is Walter Mosley’s voice that brings me back to my desk. In This Year You Write Your Novel, Mosley advises writers to cultivate a daily practice of writing. Even when it feels like you’re jumping out of your skin to respond to social or political events.
You can save the world in an hour, Mosley advises. First, your job is to write.
And if you’re a reader of this newsletter, you know your other job is to read, support, submit to, and chat about literary magazines.
Which brings me to this weekend’s question, which has to do with submitting poetry and flash fiction, or any short works that you submit in batches. This question has come up several times in private emails from readers, and also led to a fascinating conversation recently in our monthly Submissions Q & A session.
What do you do when you need to withdraw one piece from a submission that contains several submissions at once?
In other words, let’s say you submit five poems to a lit mag. You’ve done your work of formatting the submission properly. Each poem is on a separate page, all contained within a single document.
Then, one of these poems gets accepted somewhere. How do you proceed?
Should you contact the magazines still considering the batch of five poems, tell them you need to withdraw one of the poems, and then offer to submit another one in its place? Should you simply withdraw the one poem? Should you withdraw the whole batch?
Might it work in your favor to say one of the poems has been accepted by another magazine? Surely the editors at Magazine X will be very impressed to hear one of these poems has been swept up by Magazine Y, right? A note to this extent would be great.
But wait. If you’re using Submittable, should you send a “note” or a “message”? What’s the difference? Or should you skip Submittable and email the editors directly? What is least annoying? What is most efficient?
As a fiction writer who has only ever submitted one story at a time, it was a revelation for me to hear all the maneuvering that poets and flash fiction writers have to do with their submissions. For good reason, some of you might still be confused about the process.
So, poets and flash fiction writers, and any and all writers who submit work in batches, teach us your ways! What is the best way to go about the happy circumstance in which you have a piece accepted, but it is part of a group of pieces still under consideration elsewhere?
If you’re a journal editor, are you seeing people handle this all wrong? Any suggestions you want to share?
And if you really can’t do the work of writing some days, remember: Reading lit mags (or anything at all) is good too.