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How To Make Sense Of Submission Guidelines

Submission guidelines have their own jargon and going through the process of submitting your literary works requires etiquette and professionalism. This article will help you understand the words involved in the process of making great submissions.

Multiple submissions: When you make multiple submissions, you are sending different pieces to a single literary agent or editor. For instance, when you send a novel and a collection of poems to one agent, you are making a multiple submission. There are few agents and editors who allow you to send several pieces for evaluation.

Simultaneous submission: It is the opposite of a multiple submission. In this case, you send your book to several agents or editors at the same time.

Payment: Literary journals are usually not in a position to pay writers because of limited funding. However, some of them might offer people who contribute to the journals some free copies of the journals. Others offer honorariums which are sums of money as a form of appreciating contributors. Others give contributors free subscriptions to their journals. Agents should not ask for money from authors and if they do, authors should tread carefully.

Reading period: This is a period of time within which literary magazines accept reading submissions. Reading periods are often used by university-affiliated magazines which only work during specific times of the year. Independent publishers have either monthly or all-year-round reading periods. Literary agents don’t have reading periods because they are always open for submissions.

Response time: This is the time an agent takes before getting back to you on your submission. This time is different for various literary markets. It is generally not a good idea to follow up with an agent after submitting your book for review unless there is a good reason. Some agents might take as long as one year and others reply within a few days or weeks.

Submissions manager: This is a database designed to track and manage submissions online. Submissions managers are particularly helpful to small literary journals. Many traditional agents, however, prefer query letters sent by email.

Sample copy: This is a copy of your novel that you offer a literary journal to find out if the editors in the network can buy your book. There are several literary journals that don’t require subscription.

Page count, word count, or line count

Most manuscripts are measured in terms of words. All word processors have a word count feature and authors should include the estimated word count on the first page of a manuscript. Page count is the number of pages based on the industry-standard formatting guideline. A manuscript should have Times New Roman font, 12-point character size, one inch margins, and normal (single) paragraph spacing. Line count is mostly used in poetry. The number of words or pages is not very relevant in poetry.

It is easy to understand how a publisher handles submissions when you look at their submission guidelines page. If the page has casual and easily understandable words and phrase, you should assume that the agents are too. However, if the page is standoffish and formal, you should expect no-nonsense agents.