BY NANCY KAY CLARK
I HAD written this story that I believed in greatly, but it kept on getting rejected—not once, not twice, but over and over again. After each rejection, I would read through the copy and wonder why. The rejection emails did not tell me much, but occasionally an overworked editor would throw in a line about not understanding this, or this bit not working. And, even though to my mind my meaning was clear, I took those hints seriously.
The result was that after each rejection, I’d tweak the manuscript — sharpening, cutting or adding here and there, and, often times, shaping it to fit the publication or platform I was going to submit to next. That story finally got accepted to an ezine this year.
Here’s what I learned from that experience:
1. Typos and sloppy formatting are big turn-offs. Clean up your copy, and then get someone you trust to proofread it for you — you can’t see your own typos. To prove my point, when this column appeared in the last email newsletter, I was in a rush and did not get another person to proof the copy, and of course, there was a typo (which I have corrected here).
2. Read the publication’s submission guidelines carefully and follow all formatting and copy style recommendations.
3. If you’ve received some feedback and are attempting a rewrite, be careful that you don’t go overboard with those changes. When an editor says something is unclear, it doesn’t necessarily mean they want two paragraphs full of exposition. They probably just want a line or a couple of words here and there. It’s difficult, but try not to be heavy handed.
4. The story is not set in stone. You can use it as a base and tweak it to suit the needs of a particular publication or theme.
5. Keep submitting.