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Thursday’s Work-in-Progress: Submission Dilemmas

So, I’ve been considering where (else) to send a fairly new essay (just two rejections so far!). It’s a brief essay, but it doesn’t necessarily have to land in a publication that focuses on micro-forms. Which means that I’m thinking about sending it to all kinds of places.

I’m noticing that several literary journals I’d like to target–especially before the imminent seasonal shut-down–are charging fees to submit electronically. For this short piece, a $3 submission fee is no savings for me, especially when multiplied by the several journals that could be good matches. Dilemma #1.

Dilemma #2: Sure, there’s usually an option to send the piece via snail mail. But I can’t help wondering if snail mail works to a submitter’s disadvantage these days. Any off-site editors are probably checking in only via the online systems. And how do the on-site editors feel about material submitted via postal mail? Do they even have time to open the envelopes?

What do you think? Any of you have experiences submitting via postal mail when you could have submitted electronically (for a fee)? And would any editors care to weigh in on how they view postal submissions when the electronic option is available?

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6 Responses »

  1. I’ve been wondering too about this business of electronic vs analogue (snail mail) submissions. I hadn’t given consideration to the “off-site” editor you note. That’s a good question and probably the spoiler. The notion I’ve etched in my pointy little scheme of things is this: the editor sits down at her desk and goes through the electronic submissions. The mail comes and there’s my analogue submission. “Oh, how old school,” she thinks. Continueing, curiosity triggered, she is compelled to open my envelope, “Who lives in such a world and what do they have to say?”

    For what little it’s worth, I’ve begun this submission approach in belief of my notion above. So far, no results to report. I’ll let you know if I have any breakthroughs.
    Such is life in my head.
    I enjoy your thoughts. Thanks.

  2. I am interested to hear what you decide and what the result is. I, for one, am inundated at my PR job with emails and welcome anything via “regular” mail that isn’t junk. It always catches my attention, but then I’m not the hip editor of a literary journal.

  3. I may be old fashioned, but the USPO has been pretty good to me, and I generally take my chances with them over paying a fee.

  4. I’m inclined to disagree with the other commenters, although literary journals are not my field of expertise. Still, as a freelance magazine writer with past experience as an on-staff editor, I believe that if I really wanted to see my essay published, I would pay the fee (especially with publications where I’d really like to see my essay) and chalk it up to the cost of doing business. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

  5. Basically, you’ve all summed up a number of thoughts I’ve had, too. No real decisions or m.o. here yet. To be continued! Thanks very much for the comments.

  6. I recently submitted to a journal using snail mail and received an email notification a month later when an intern entered my submission into the online queue. My hunch is that a lot of magazines will be doing the same thing.

    I felt a bit foolish for not using the online submissions manager in the first place!

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