Submission Tips for New Writers

Since Conte is committed to publishing first-time writers as well as established voices, we would like to offer the following suggestions to help all of our potential contributors make a good impression. While we make no claim that this advice is universal, we have found that the following applies to most journals, both in print or online:

  • Be sure to read at least one issue of any journal before submitting your work. Be aware of your own aesthetic leanings and send work to publications that are a snug fit.
  • When you discover a journal you like, send them your best work. If a poem or short story is good today, it might be amazing with another week of revisions. A premature submission quickly discloses its imperfections.
  • Editing can be a thankless task, and requires reading hundreds of submissions each month. If you strictly adhere to a journal’s word-limit or poem-limit – as well as their guidelines concerning attachments – you are bound to impress an editor rather than make them groan with dismay.
  • Cover letters are optional at some publications, but here at Conte, we like to know a little about our submitters. The type of things you probably should include are 1) how you learned about our journal; 2) a few places you have been published previously, if at all; and 3) whether or not you are sending a simultaneous submission. All of this can be done in a few short sentences. The types of things you probably shouldn’t include are that you just spent three weeks hiking the Ho Chi Min Trail, that you absolutely love Golden Retrievers, or that you wrote your dissertation on Wallace Stevens back in 1974. Succinctness, rather than verbosity, conveys professionalism.
  • Prepare an online submission with the same care and attention to detail that you would prepare a print submission; use basic fonts and a simple layout to keep the focus on your writing rather than on your idiosyncratic formatting.
  • After you make a submission, be patient. Fight the urge to query about the status of your work until a journal’s proposed reading period has expired. At Conte, we try to respond within 3 months, so if we keep your work longer than 6-8 weeks, it has probably made it through the first round of rejections.
  • This brings us, finally, to the delicate issue of rejection. If a journal rejects your work, especially Conte, do not take it personally. While we often pass on pieces we feel are not well crafted, we also may reject well-written poems or stories that are a poor fit for our upcoming issue. If you have talent as a writer and believe in your work, your writing will find a home somewhere.

Good luck, and we look forward to reading your work!