Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: What to Do After an Acceptance Arrives

Last Saturday evening I returned from a lovely party to some equally nice news: another of my micro-essays had just found a home in a journal.

Which reminded me of something.

As writers, we spend a fair amount of time talking about where to submit our work, and how to submit it, and when to submit it. We also devote a lot of energy to preparing for (and dealing with) rejection.

But we don’t always say a whole lot about what to do after an acceptance arrives.

Yes, we can rejoice. We can toast. We can tweet. But before we do anything else there are two things that we really need to do. Many of you may know this already. But some of you may not. Ready?


Admittedly, I didn’t sit down late Saturday night and take care of these items. But I was on task early Sunday morning.

First, I thanked the accepting editor. And then, I reviewed my records (here’s why it’s so important to keep track of your submissions!) and contacted the five other publications that were still considering the piece and told them that it had been accepted and was no longer available.

Why did I get to work on this even before I allowed myself to enjoy the Sunday paper? Because I knew I had to. I knew that it was part of the job of a practicing writer. Editors do not appreciate spending their time evaluating, discussing, and perhaps even coming up with revision ideas for a piece only to learn when they send you an acceptance that, alas, the piece is no longer available. It’s simply common courtesy in this business to make that notification yourself in as timely a manner as possible. Moreover, although most submission guidelines won’t tell you that you must thank the journal or magazine for an acceptance (hopefully, your parents may have taught you that lesson way back when), they will emphasize the importance of alerting the editors once a piece is accepted elsewhere.

What do you think? Any other immediate to-do tasks you can think of after an acceptance arrives?

P.S. For any of you who may have caught my tweet yesterday morning about another acceptance: That one is actually for a highly “niche”/themed piece that I’d sent to only one publication. So right after I sent the thank-you email, I was free to celebrate!

12 thoughts on “Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: What to Do After an Acceptance Arrives

  1. EKSwitaj says:

    Step three: let people know about the acceptance via social media. It’s a good way to promote your own work and the market in which it is going to appear. 🙂

    (Congratulations, BTW.)

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      You know, there’s something so super-cautious/anxious about me that I almost feel as though it jinxes things, even at that stage, to name the publication. Maybe that’s something I just need to get over. Thanks for the thought (and the congratulations!).

    2. Agreed about #2, informing other editors. Submittable facilitates that clearly, yes? Then again, I also have an Excel file for those places who don’t follow that process and include them too.

      If only all editors had the time, patience, and resources to be equally as kind to us and give detailed info on rejections as we do to reject them… I can’t say I share your concern about common courtesy though I do understand that you’re right in calling it that; I simply call it not wanting to piss off editors who might publish me in the future. It’d irritate me as an editor to have that done.

      Having only had my first acceptance back in March and finally having the piece published last week, I’m new to this game. I didn’t tell anyone it was accepted until a month or more afterward. Like you, the jinx factor lurked in the background.

      But yes, a thank you is indeed divine.

      Your posts rock, Erika. Keep it up and keep getting those acceptances.


      1. Erika Dreifus says:

        Congrats again on that publication, Nichole. Yes, you can withdraw submissions on Submittable, but not all journals use it, so it depends on where your work may be. None of the the journals/magazines I had to notify this time were using it.

  2. Sarah says:

    Good advice! And congratulations!

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thanks so much, Sarah!

  3. Good advice. I do the same with pitches, too. My one question would be when to finalize the fee discussion. Some magazines or publications do not list their fees explicitly, and I’ve gotten jammed up occasionally by that. In my excitement to be accepted, I don’t tend to compensation perhaps as promptly as I should. Any thoughts on the timing of that topic?

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Fair question. In both these cases, I knew the payment policy up front (basically, that there won’t be any). With freelance pitches/queries, and with paying journals, the editors typically discuss payment along with the acceptance. But if that weren’t the case, I’d absolutely ask about it when acknowledging/accepting the acceptance.

  4. Lisa Romeo says:

    Good tips.

    I too generally won’t publicly name where a piece has been accepted until I either know the journal is at the printer, or the online issue is set to go live quite soon. Rarely, a venue will go out of business before your piece has appeared, or have to reschedule your piece for a later issue, and you don’t want to have to backtrack and explain why it isn’t appearing (yet).

    BUT I would be sure to connect w/the venue via its Facebook page, on Twitter, and if I could, to support the publication/site in any other suitable public way without saying why just yet.

    Also should go without saying — be prompt, cooperative, and open-minded regarding any edits suggested or other interactions/requests. I’ve learned a lot from editors, even when at first I did not agree w/their editing ideas. You always want to have an editor say/think, after your work has appeared, that you were a pleasure to work with. Word spreads.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Lisa–YES! Thanks so much for chiming in. Much appreciated.

  5. Dan says:

    As a rule, I don’t immediately withdraw my work elsewhere after it’s been accepted. I’ve been unaccepted a couple times. Editors change, stuff happens. If you withdraw your piece, then you’ve either lost a submission fee or you’ve lost your spot in the submission queue and have to start all over again. I wouldn’t withdraw unless you are more than 100% the publication is publishing your piece.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Dan. The situations you outline are certainly all possibilities. But I still feel better following the policies that many publications explicitly state in their guidelines, and that I do consider to be good manners. For me, any risk having to resubmit, ultimately, is one that I’m willing to take.

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