Writescape’s summer contest is over, but for writers, the process of submitting is never over. We’ve noticed on Facebook, that Writescape Retreat alumnus Lisa Reynolds has been submitting relentlessly, and succeeding! Her poem “Midday in a Café” was accepted by the online literary journal, Loud Coffee Press, and her entry was chosen by PonderSavant.com for its One-liner Abound contest.
Not just that, but she has had works published or accepted by intriguing sources: groups that fight world hunger, or support women’s issues or an international online Berlin-based arts/cultural/politics magazine called The Wild Word.
So we asked her: How do you find all these interesting markets? How do you pick the ones that work for you?
Guest Blogger – Lisa Reynolds
I used to scan the internet for hours, trying to locate reputable contests, blogs, journals and other places to send my work. This strategy was not only draining but time consuming. I ended up submitting short stories and poetry I already had on file instead of writing fresh pieces which were more in line with the aesthetic and vision of the magazines, anthologies and online publications I sought publication in.
When rejections came back, I knew I had to change things up before my self-confidence plummeted and I stopped submitting altogether.
This is when I decided to use Facebook as a resource to find submission options.
A Wise Decision
I’m happy to say it was a wise decision. In the past three months, ten of my works have been accepted for publication. Although I am no expert, I increased my chances of success with these five steps:
- Join Facebook Groups
I am a member of Facebook groups that post poetry and writing contests. Some of these groups are Public while others are Private, requiring three to five basic questions be answered prior to acceptance.
Although I initially found the high number of members in these groups intimidating (for instance, the Calls for Submission Group has 65K private members), I didn’t let fear of competition deter me from joining. I focused on the positive, believing the popularity of these groups meant they were credible.
- Be Selective
When perusing markets posted in these groups, I was able to quickly eliminate those that didn’t appeal to me because of the type of literary form, theme, requirements in terms of length, and/or deadline.
After saving my preferred choices in my Facebook portfolio, I created an Excel spreadsheet so I had a tangible list on hand. Then I focused my energies on reviewing the submission guidelines for each choice in detail.
- Do Your Research
Reducing my longlist of submission options to a manageable shortlist was easier than I expected.
With more time available to research past issues of magazines, read previous contest winners’ works and check out blog archives, I was able to determine whether my writing fit their preferred style and had a chance of being accepted.
- Find Your Personal Fit
It wasn’t long before I noticed my selections gravitated towards certain publishers: those that published works that related to my themes of interest, particularly social justice.
This led to self-reflection and the realization that I wanted to write about issues that mattered to me. I wanted to be a small part of supporting charities, saving wildlife, fighting hunger, feeding the homeless, advocating for children and women in crisis, and other social justice issues. When I write about these issues, I believe my voice is sincere and authentic. Perhaps that is why they been have been chosen for publication.
- Share with other writers
Having a target list of places to submit to and constant deadlines keeps me writing regularly. But for me, the most exciting part is the domino-effect of sharing. This mindset has helped me remain humble and committed to my writing practice.
I regularly post on my Facebook page to encourage others to submit, and I am overjoyed when I receive messages from writers saying, “Did you see this one?” It’s a wonderful feeling to share and celebrate our successes together.
Using Facebook as a resource to locate contests and other markets has worked for me. I hope it works for you too.
Below are a few links to groups that you may find helpful. Good luck!
- Calls for Submissions Private Group (63K Members)
- For Authors! Calls for Submissions Private Group (1.7K Members)
- Call for Submission Public Group (7.9K Members)
- No Fee Calls for Poems Public Group (8.1K Members)
- Writers Post No Fee Calls for Submission Public Group (6.1K Members)
Lisa Reynolds is a teacher, writer, and proud member of the Writers’ Community of Durham Region, Ontario. Her poetry and short stories are published in several print and online publications. She lives in a waterfront community east of Toronto.